Writing this post is like lifting a particular burden off of my chest. This title has been in my drafts for as long as I can remember. I remember coming up with the title after almost drowning in the dilemma of what “forgive and forget” actually means for us as human beings, and especially as Christians. Then, I am hit with verses like Hebrews 8:12 where God says, “I will remember your sins no more”, and this is me wondering wait. so my sins are just wiped out like that? No traces. Nothing. God doesn’t remember I did this or that. But then God isn’t a God who is forgetful. Isn’t He the one who knows the end from the beginning and the beginning from the end?
All of these thoughts led to my quest for answers about what forgiveness TRULY means. Some people have tried to describe this act of God not remembering our sins anymore as God putting those sins “behind his back”, and that we also should put people’s “sins” behind our backs. But please, isn’t that only a figurative thingy? What if I look back…or say God looks back in reflection? Guess what? The sin is right there, reminding us of itself.
Then, some ridiculously described it as God having selective memory. Nahhhh. That’s not it either. Selective what? So let’s even play that out – maybe God says I choose not to remember you committed adultery but does it occur to you that in the process of choosing not to remember, there is still a remembrance, so do you reallyyy forget?
So, in this post, my goal is to help us look at God as the standard. What is the model of forgiveness that we see in Scriptures? Because guess what? If you are made in the image of God, the connotation is that you have God’s nature in you, and that you have every capacity to fully forgive because the One who created you is a forgiving father. How does he do it? How does he forgive sins, then remembers them no more? What’s the secret?
The secret is: God sees you as new.
Now you’re probably like duh of course I knew that. Well, please read on so you know if you really know and understand that. Let’s use a scenario: you are a murderer and I mean a hard-core hired assassin, who has killed, say, forty (40) people, but then one day, you come to the realization of what Christ has done for you on the cross and you become born again. When this happens, forgiveness happens. God does this and He says, “Son, Daughter, you are as good as new.” Then, you come across Isaiah 43:25 or Jeremiah 31:34 or Hebrews 10:12-14, and you are elated that God “forgets” your sin. You think God has amnesia, sis? NO. He doesn’t.
So what exactly does this mean? It means God now sees you in a new light! He no longer sees you as that hired assassin or murderer; he sees you as changed. You have a clean slate – you have literally just come out of the womb again (born again) and your life is like a tabula rasa (those compulsory uni courses are paying off yoh). But then, yes! He no longer sees you as a sinner, but as a son. But aren’t these easy descriptions? How do you even know this is true? This is where the true test of forgiveness comes in.
So, you have a new vision to begin a church or a Bible Study class, and God does not say, “Oh I know you’re forgiven, but because you killed the mother of that girl who would be in your Bible Study class, I won’t let you lead that class. You’ve gotta shoo.” NO. The all-forgiving, all-loving, ever-merciful Father says, “You are no longer who you used to be, child, and your past does not define you. Take the stage.” That is what “I will remember your sins no more” means!
THE MODEL OF FORGIVENESS
Before you say Alex this is just a story, let’s go to the Bible. In Acts 9, we see the conversion of Saul to Paul (please read it). After visiting Saul, God appeared to Ananias in verses 10-12 saying, ““Go at once to the street called Abundance[g and look for a man from Tarsus[h] named Saul. You will find him at Judah’s house.[i] While he was praying,[j] he saw in a supernatural vision a man named Ananias[k] coming to lay hands upon him to restore his sight.”[l]” (TPT. Source:Bible Gateway) and like most of us would have responded, Ananias goes, “But Lord” in the sense of What? Saul? Saul?? The same Saul? and he says, “many have told me about his terrible persecution of those in Jerusalem who are devoted to you.[m] 14 In fact, the high priest has authorized him to seize and imprison all those in Damascus who call on your name.” Guess what? God exclaims, “Arise and go!”
You see that? This is the ultimate of forgiveness for us as humans and this is our model. This is why we came up with things like “forgive and forget” in an attempt to define God’s nature of remembering our sins no more. God’s standard is that after you claim to have forgiven the one who has hurt you, who do you see? Do you still see a heart-breaker or do you see a great guy? Do you see that backbiter or do you see a special girl?
When God says, “I remember your sins no more”, He is not telling us He has amnesia or a selective memory; He means I don’t see you in the light of what you have done. I don’t use your past as a determinant for your future. I don’t say oh because your body count was 20 before you became born again, you are not entitled to a good marriage. NO. Not the God that I serve.
So next time you claim to have forgiven a person, ask yourself, “When his/her name pops up, what do I think of first? If I have the opportunity to move this person up the ladder of life, will I do it or will I drag the person down altogether?” Forgiveness is not staying 10,000 miles away and hoping that you never cross paths.
No, forgiveness is letting go of the hurt and the pain; it is seeing the person in new light and knowing that whether you cross paths or not, it’s all good. And this applies to you too when it comes to forgiving yourself. When you make mistakes and you come to forgive yourself, do not see an adulterer in the mirror. When you have a flashback of what life used to be, let it be that you can laugh it off because you know that old person exists no more.
Let me break the ice here: IT IS HARD. IT TAKES TIME. Again, IT IS HARD, but IT IS NOT IMPOSSIBLE.
Sigh this is the longest post I have typed in my history of blogging. This post is speaking to me as much as it is to you. You might be in the process of forgiving; you might just be starting out. But any time you find it hard, ask yourself, if God were to judge me by all the lies I have told, would I even be here today, smiling and getting it? So yeah, while we acknowledge that total forgiveness, the type that Christ modeled, is almost an unattainable, utopian life for the Christian, because the flesh tempts us to judge people by what they have done in the past, whether we still hold grudges or not, it is not an impossible task.
In case you are hurting right now from your own mistakes or someone else’s, I pray that the Holy Spirit grants you the strength and grace to let go of the hurt and pain. I pray you are granted peace that passes all understanding and that you are given grace to see the offender in new light, in Jesus’ name. AMEN.
Please leave a comment. Don’t be a ghost reader today. Abeg. I realllyyyy want to know your thoughts! Thank you!
With Overflowing Love,