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“And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” — Jeremiah 31:34 (NASB)
Hands up, who agrees that forgiveness is at the core of Christianity? Okay, put them down. Hands up, how many of you actually forget the offense that you forgave? Now don’t get “Spiritual Amnesia” on this one, I’m sure there are many, possibly 99.99% of us, who hold on to that offense like luggage. Now…hands up, how many of you think God forgets your offense and then back it up with “as far as the east is from the west?” Now, don’t reach down for those stones yet or I might have to back it up with “let him without sin cast the first stone.” I am going somewhere with this.
However, I can’t really give this somewhere a name but if I could borrow a quote from Larry Osbourne, “Some of us have been taught that forgiveness is pretending nothing happened—a head-in-the -sand posture that ignores the obvious. Some of us think of it as a never-ending series of second chances. Others view it as a fresh start with all the consequences and old baggage removed. Still others imagine it as the immediate and full restoration of a broken relationship, complete with the same level of trust and privileges that preceded the wrongdoing.” And then he goes to say… “But the goofiest idea of all is the widely held belief that genuine forgiveness means literally forgetting what happened—wiping the slate so clean that every memory of the transgression disappears.”
Now you’re probably thinking that those are exactly the things that forgiveness is about, but when you apply them to The Almighty I don’t think we hit the mark. It’s almost saying that even He gets “Spiritual Amnesia” when it comes to our wrong doings. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but an omniscient God just doesn’t forget stuff. If that were the case, Noah might still be floating around on The Ark somewhere wondering if he’ll ever be rid of these animals he’s carrying as cargo. Pets are nice to have around the house but two of everything is a bit much, isn’t it?
And I’m sure that the reason we think that when our wrongs are forgiven we are escaping consequence. AH-HA!! Now we’re getting somewhere. You see, I’m a guy who realizes that most of the rules that are made by men can be broken and the punishment for them can be “negotiated.” That’s why I entered into a “Plea Deal” or two in my past. I’d admit my guilt and the judge would be lenient with his sentencing. It may have gotten me outta some serious stuff back then, but it left a residue of consequence to the life I live today, none the less. And that’s how it really goes with God.
Most Christians know about King David’s little fling with Bathsheba. Once he confessed what he had done to God, God assured him that he was forgiven and David’s life would be spared but the residue of consequence wasn’t wiped away completely. The sword would never depart from David’s house and he would always be at war. He would not be allowed to build the Temple he desired to construct. The child that Bathsheba had as a result of this occurrence would die soon after its birth. An ugly calamite would happen with Tamar, his daughter, and Amnon, his son that would eventually lead to murder and David’s son, Absalom, to boldly revolt against his father’s rule over Israel.
Ya see, God can say to us, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” and we should hold on to that promise, but I can’t find anything in Scripture that says He’ll remove the residue of consequence from us. On the contrary, even He will show us that He isn’t above consequence. How can I say that? Look at The Cross of Christ and tell me that God the Father isn’t above consequence. As the Son of David hangs on a Roman Cross as an atonement for the iniquity of man, He will repeat what David wrote in Psalm 22:1, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” [“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”] (Matt 27:46)
So, in the big scheme of it all, does forgiving mean forgetting? Not really, but unless someone is willing to go the distance that God the Father did, we better look at the subject a little better. When God forgives and says He won’t remember, it doesn’t mean He’ll just get “Spiritual Amnesia” about what we’ve done. It just means that, through Jesus, He is willing to look past our guilt and begin things anew. And as we handle the residue of consequence we need to keep this in mind, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” Amen?
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) is married (Kathy) with two grown children (Kevin and Karen) and has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008.
Daily Quote: “When we offer forgiveness to those who have no excuse—and for things most of the world would consider unforgivable—we become most like Jesus.” — Larry Osborne
This Week’s Verse to Memorize:
“And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You. Psalm 39:7