Does God Forgive & Forget?
Updated: Feb 21
I recently heard someone say that not only does God forgive our sins completely…God also forgets our sin completely. When we ask for forgiveness, God does not remember our sin at all.
Jeremiah 31:34 says “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more”
I’ve read this verse before, but the idea of God forgetting anything made me question it. I mean, God is omniscient! He is all-knowing. How can He forget something? What does that mean? Does God know our sins, but He chooses to forget or overlook them?
The Strong’s Concordance says the word for “remember” used in the verse from
Jeremiah is “Zakar”. Which means, ‘To mark (so as to be recognized) i.e. To remember, by
implication to mention. Also, to be mindful, recount, record, bring to remembrance, still, think on.’
The Strong’s Concordance says the word for “sin” used in the verse from Jeremiah is
“chatta’th”. Which means, ‘An offence (sometimes habitual sinfulness) and its penalty, sacrifice or expiation’. Expiation is defined as atonement. Which means, ‘The act of making amends or reparation for guilt’.
Looking at the verse (Jeremiah 31:34) again knowing the definitions helps me understand. “I will [mark, mention, recount, record, think on, bring to remembrance] their [offences, sin, penalty] no more.
Which goes along with what we know of Jesus’s sacrifice and God’s forgiveness already. When Jesus died for our sins and rose from the grave, he paid for all our sins- past, present, and future.
Psalm 103:12 says “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us”
Which got me thinking about the second judgement to come. The first judgement, or The Great White Throne Judgement, I know will be to separate those saved that have their names written in the Book of Life from the unsaved. God will judge each person according to what they have done. Those who are saved by Jesus Christ are forgiven and saved from what our sins deserve. But then if there is a second judgement just for Christians about how we live our lives…how can God forget our sin? There are quite a few scriptures about the second judgement, here are some:
“You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with
contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written:
“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will acknowledge God.’”
So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.” Romans 14:10-12 NIV
The Greek word used here in Romans for “brother or sister” is “adelphos” referring to
believers. So, we know that the judgement being talked about here is for believers.
“Therefore, judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will
bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.” 1 Corinthians 4:5 NIV
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may
receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” 2
Corinthians 5:10 NIV
These two verses show that God will judge the motives of our hearts and things done
whether good or bad. While we won’t be held accountable for the penalty of our sin, this doesn’t sound to me like God forgets our sin as if it didn’t happen.
“By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else
is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.” 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 NIV
We know this is talking about the judgement of Christians since all have the foundation of Jesus Christ, and that they will all be saved. What we build on that foundation is our works. If using gold, silver, or costly stones the works will prevail in the fire under God’s testing of our motives. If using wood, hay, or straw, those would burn up in the fire and it will be like nothing was done so that person would not receive a reward.
I thank God for his forgiveness, and Jesus for his sacrifice! How wonderful to be forgiven of our sins, that Jesus took the penalty for us! We know that since Jesus is our savior there will be no penalty for our sin. Only rewards or lack of rewards.
After reviewing these scriptures though, I cannot say that God forgets our sin- since we
will "give an account of ourselves to God", "that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad" and that He will “expose the motives of the heart” so we will “receive praise from God".
I do not want to be the Christian who barely escapes the flames and whose works are
burned up in the fire. Even though I know Jesus paid the sacrifice for our sins, that does not
mean we should continue sinning (Romans 6:1-2), but instead we should lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20).
Posted by Emily Stark.