What God Forgets That We Remember
Is is possible for God to forget? Don’t you almost feel like we are being blasphemous and sacrilegious for even suggesting such a possibility? How could an all-powerful, all-knowing, perfect, holy Creator God ever forget something?
Let’s admit that we struggle with this concept of perceiving that God might have weakness. I remember in Sunday School having great fun in tying up the Junior High teacher with the question: “Is God so powerful that he could create a rock so heavy that even He could not lift it up?”
How could God forget? Let’s begin by understanding that God’s forgetfulness is not like ours. We forget things all the time. Our minds are not as sharp as they used to be. We forget where we put things. Our keys, for example. The tech business has made an entire new product category just for people who can’t find their keys! Both Mary Kay and I have these little Apple Airtags so we won’t lose our keys.
God is not feeble. He doesn’t struggle with His memory. So why would we title the sermon, “What God Forgets”? For one simple reason. God’s Word tells us He forgets. What does God forget?
God Forgets The SINS OF CHRIST-FOLLOWERS.
“For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sin no more.” Hebrews 8:12
The most neglected doctrine of theology is the forgetfulness of God. But this is the good news of God’s Word. When God forgives, God forgets. Say that with me: When God forgives, God forgets. This truth is repeatedly affirmed in Scripture. When God forgives our sin He puts it out of His mind; He erases it from the pages of time; He forgets it.
We - on the other hand - even if we are forgiven of our sin - have a tendency to remember our sin.
Remembering Our Sin: GUILT.
So what do we do with our guilt? We usually try one of 4 approaches:
(1) We RATIONALIZE our guilt.
We attempt to excuse our sins. Instead of accepting responsibility for what we have done and facing it, we project our guilt on someone else. We blame others for our sinful actions. It’s the way I was raised. It is my family. I was hurt and you know what you say: “Hurt people hurt people.
(2) We DENY our guilt.
We often deny our guilt because we don’t want to admit to spiritual failure in our lives.
(3) We RUN AWAY FROM our guilt.
We know it is there. We know we are guilty. We know it is our fault. We just try to avoid dealing with it. We try to run away from our guilt. The problem of course is there is no running away from it. The guilt is within us. Where we go, our guilt tags right along!
Before I talk about the 4th way we deal with guilt, let’s talk about how God deals with it! The Bible teaches us that God and man treat sin very differently. We may rationalize it, deny it, run away from it. But all are unsuccessful.
On the other hand, God takes sin very seriously. He is a holy God. And He cannot abide sin in His holy Presence. And since we all are sinful, we all have a monumental sin problem. The greatest miracle of the Christian faith is that God has provided us a way out of the guilt our sin problem. He sent Jesus, his only Son, as a sin sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sin. So for Christ followers - we no longer have guilt! It’s taken away!
For Christ-followers: NO CONDEMNATION
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1
This is really good news! We don’t have to feel guilty even though we are guilty. Our guilt problem is taken away. We are not condemned. When God forgives, God forgets. Say that with me. “When God forgives, God forgets.”
But it’s not like God just miraculously clicked His fingers and made it all go away. We may rationalize guilt, deny guilt, or run away from guilt - but not God. What did God do with our guilt?
What Does God Do With Our Guilt? God FACES OUR GUILT.
“God made you alive together with Him, when He forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:13-14
Don’t ever thing that this was an easy solution. This was no easy process by which our guilt was removed. A price had to be paid. But, here is the point: Christ paid that price! God can deal with out guilt, the Bible says, because on the cross Christ “erased the record that stood against us.” God faces our guilt. Then God forgets our guilt. Wow!
Ok - so let’s go back to when I told you there were 4 ways we deal with feelings of guilt.: (1) rationalize it; (2) deny it; (3) run away from it. There’s actually a 4th way to deal with guilt - and it really is a killer.
(4) We REPLAY our guilt.
We just play the tape of our guilty actions over and over in our minds. We have a name for this: our guilty conscious. Some are much more sensitive to it than others. This can be a good thing if it points us to our need for redemption and our need for a Savior. But for those of us who are already forgiven as Christ-followers, replaying our guilt is so unnecessary. We may not realize it, but essentially what we are expressing is our lack of faith in God’s solution. “Thank You Jesus for dying on a cross for me! Thank you for dealing with my guilt. But I still feel guilty. What You did was just not enough!” None of us would ever say this or even think it, but that’s the conclusion when we still play the guilty tape over and over in our heads. So what is the solution?
How to stop feeling guilty: REPLACE the REPLAY.
In the same passage (Romans 8) that Paul talks about “no condemnation” he goes on to talk about how these forgiven, not guilty Christ-followers should live their lives. Listen to what he says:
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” Romans 8:4
As we celebrate this Thanksgiving holiday and prepare for Christmas, the greatest present we possess is a not guilty verdict! But until we replace our minds thoughts on the thought of God rather than on what often consumes our thinking (work, family, relationships, struggles, politics, sports teams), we will not be able to exercise the freedom that comes with our not guilty verdict. We could still FEEL guilty! Even though we’re not. We have to replace the replay!
There’s just no accidental way for this to happen. You have to be deliberate about it. You have to THINK about it! You have to be purposeful. You have to carve out time and space to think on the thoughts of God. You have to be deliberate to hear God speak to you. You have to set your minds on the things of the Spirit!
What about you today? Will you commit during this Advent season to be purposeful about your own God story? Will you listen? Will you pray? Will you read God’s Word? Will you make it a point to replace your replay with what God has already done for you rather than the things you may be feeling guilty about?
Praise the Lord that He forgets (and forgives) what we try to remember! Amen!