What does it mean that God forgets our sin? Does He forget?

In Isaiah 43:25 God declares, "I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins." In talking about Jesus as a perfect, once-for-all sacrifice for our sins, the writer of Hebrews says, "For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, 'This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,' then he adds, 'I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.' Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin" (Hebrews 10:14–18). What does it mean that He "will not remember" our sins? Does God forget our sin?

We know that God is omniscient, meaning He knows all things. Thus God cannot forget in the sense that a human does. It is not that our sins slip God's mind somehow. Rather, He chooses not to remember our sins. When we receive God's forgiveness, He does not hold our sin against us or treat us according to what our sins deserve. Psalm 103:12 says, "As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us." There is immeasurable distance from east to west. In going around a globe, there is really no point where a person starts going east and stops going west, or vice versa. God completely removes our sins. He does this through the Person and work of Jesus Christ. When Jesus died on the cross, He made payment for our sin. When we come to Him in faith, we receive complete forgiveness. God does not treat us as sinners deserving of death (Romans 3:23; 6:23), but treats us with love and grace (Ephesians 2:8–9). Second Corinthians 5:19–21 says, "In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. … For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." God not only makes payment for our sin, but puts our sin completely out of view and replaces it with His own righteousness.

That being said, it is true that Christians will still struggle with sin (1 John 1:8). And we still need to ask for forgiveness of our sin to restore open fellowship with God. But, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Romans 8:1 says, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). God will not rub our sins in our noses or remind us of our sins to shame us. He lavishes us with His love and His grace. When we fall, we come to Him in humble confession, accept His forgiveness, and then move forward. We can remember that we were once sinners, enslaved to the flesh, but we need not endure accusations or feelings of false guilt over these sins. God forgives completely, and we can rest in that. With Paul we can "forget[] what lies behind and strain[] forward to what lies ahead, [we] press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13).

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