I have a terrible memory. I might have been this way all my life but I don’t remember. I can remember big events and strange events like my wedding, or the time I was in Cardiff and helped a Dalek to cross the road, but so much I forget quickly. It’s a bit embarrassing at family get-togethers when we reminisce about the good old days and I don’t remember them, or when someone asks me about what I preached in church and I can’t remember what I spoke about.
If I do remember past events it’s often the ones I’d prefer to forget. The embarrassing experiences, like ruining a performance of a play by falling off a platform on the stage and landing with a big crash. The painful experiences like failing an exam, or two. The heartbreaking experiences that are too personal to share. The shameful experiences. We all have those don’t we? Something we may have said or done that we wished had never happened, and that we would do anything to undo. It may be a reckless action or an unkind word. It could be so many things and we live with the shame because we can never forget them.
I believe some people may be desperate to have a Christian faith. They see clearly what Jesus did when he died for them at the cross of Calvary. They know that faith in him brings forgiveness of sins but they don’t come to Jesus for forgiveness and salvation because they’re ashamed of their past mistakes, their sins. However much they want salvation they can’t believe that God would ever forgive them. They’re wrong.
Unlike me God has a perfect memory. He would be imperfect otherwise. It’s true that everything we do he is aware of and cannot forget, but the Bible tells us something quite remarkable :
“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (1)
“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (2)
This point is so important that God tells us about it twice. A perfect God cannot forget, but he can choose by a conscious act of his will to remember no more. He forgives when we come to him in faith for salvation, he blots out our transgressions (sins) and he remembers them no more. He treats them as if they didn’t exist.
That is amazing but why does he do it? Why does he choose not to remember our sins and not punish us? What has happened to make him forgive us? The answer is that Jesus happened. Jesus came to earth 2000 years ago and died on a cross as a common criminal. He suffered more than any man has ever suffered, and in so doing he was taking our sins upon himself and being punished for them. Those who come in faith God recognises that his Son was punished and died for their sins, and he does not punish the same sin twice. If Jesus has been punished God is willing and able to forgive us.
What does God do with our sins? He remembers them no more. He essentially says, ‘what sins?’ Nothing you’ve done is unforgivable. How wonderful is that.
- Hebrews 8:12
- Isaiah 43:25