Perhaps the title to this article caught your attention as a “typo.” You may have thought I meant to write “Faithful to Forgive.” Not so fast! Inasmuch as our God is faithful to forgive, He has also promised to be faithful to forget.
Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.
God is not forgetful like we are. If you’re like me, you forget where you left your car keys…you forget to bring the shopping list to the store…you forget where you left the remote control for the TV. This is not the case with God! God is omniscient; He knows all.
So what is the writer of Hebrews telling us? He is saying that our God is so gracious, He will never bring up any of our past sins to accuse us. He has placed our transgressions as far away from us as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). He has hurled our iniquities into the depths of the sea, never to be seen again (Micah 7:19). Every sin has been nailed to the cross and covered by the blood of Jesus.
In his devotional, Faith’s Checkbook, Charles Spurgeon, often called “the prince of preachers,” put it this way:
According to this gracious covenant, the Lord treats His people as if they had never sinned. Practically, He forgets all their trespasses. Sins of all kinds He treats as if they had never been, as if they were quite erased from His memory. Oh, miracle of grace! God does here that which in certain aspects is impossible to Him. His mercy works miracles that far transcend all other miracles.
I remember hearing this truth expressed this same way as it relates to our justification . . . when we are justified (declared righteous) by God, it’s just as if we’d never sinned. What a God we serve! Because of the cross work of Christ, we who are in Him—by grace through faith—are clothed in the righteousness of Christ and seen by God the Father as perfectly holy. God will never remind us of our past sins.
If you are struggling with feelings of guilt from any past sin, commit Hebrews 10:17 to memory and keep it at the forefront of your thinking every time the devil causes you to think about it. Remember, as long as the devil can keep you focused on some past sin, he succeeds in keeping you from faithfully serving God in the present.
When we appropriate God’s incredible promise to forget all our sins, it strengthens us to treat the past as a school. We can and should take every lesson from the past, but we are never to live there. God has chosen to “remember no more” every time we turned away from Him. Knowing that our spiritual slate has not just been cleaned, but actually broken and thrown away, we are freed to make forward progress in serving our Lord. We are freed from the strongholds of past sins.
If this message finds you in the grip of any past guilt, take that guilt to the cross and lay it at the nail-pierced feet of Jesus. You have been buried with Christ in baptism and raised to walk in the newness of life . . . His life, not your life. You live under the victorious banner of the finished work of Jesus Christ, and that includes the truth that God sees you just as He sees His Son Jesus: He sees you as perfect in every way!
Let that truth set you free from anything that has you chained to the past.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!