May 19, 1992
During a recent visit, our oldest son noticed I kept forgetting to do something and quipped “I get that too — it’s called granny-disease.”
I should have swatted him. Most women want to forget birthdays only, and never become old enough to be forgetful! However, I did console myself with this thought: I am in good company — God forgets things too.
Directly related to God’s forgetfulness is one aspect of our own ability to forget. My husband and I marvel how the memory of confessed, forgiven sin fades. Our recall of things done in the past, things we were so ashamed of, has faded to the point where neither of us can remember details, even if we try. Yet there was a time we thought we would never forget.
Recently, God graciously delivered a friend of mine from a life of violent sin and demonic oppression that once dominated everything she did. What amazes her is that now she can scarcely remember even the most recent images from her past. She is particularly overjoyed that plaguing mental images are completely gone — as if she did not even experience them.
I know that some people are able to push painful or ugly memories out of their minds with busyness and noise, but their forgetfulness is repression, a deliberate effort. It is not the same as what God does with a Christian’s memory of sin.
To understand it, we need to first know what God Himself does with our sin. The Psalmist explains that “the LORD is merciful and gracious and slow to anger... while He does hate sin, He does not stay angry for ever...” even though He has every right to remain angry with us.
God offers forgiveness for at least two reasons. First, He can forgive because of the gospel. The death of His Son satisfied His righteous wrath against sin. We deserved the penalty but He loved us so much that He sent His Son to pay the penalty our sin deserved. Those who acknowledge their sin and need for forgiveness and believe in Christ as their sin-bearer, are pardoned. Their offenses are removed from them, nailed to His cross and God says, “Their sins and iniquities I will remember no more (Hebrews 10:17).
Second, His own nature demands forgiveness. Because He is holy, He cannot hold grudges. He says: “I, even I, am He that blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and will not remember your sins.” That is why we can pray as the psalmist did: “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember me for thy goodness’ sake, O LORD” (Psalms 25:7).
The marvel is God not only forgives our confessed sin but also removes it. He promises: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Psalm 103 goes on to say “He has not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities... as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
Christians experience the reality of freedom from guilt. As we confess daily and as each sin is cleansed, its guilt is taken away. Then, as we learn to live more and more under the control of the Holy Spirit, we more and more think like He thinks — and the more we think like He thinks, the more we are able to simply forget our sins — as He does.
None of us like it when we can’t remember the names of our good neighbors or where we put the car keys, but when it comes to forgetting cancelled sin, I do welcome having granny-disease.