Can God Really Forget Your Sins?

In response to a question from a reader:

“This question is off topic…but what do you think this verse means?”

Hebrews 8:12
“For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness,
and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.”

“Do you think it’s bad to go as far to say that when God sees us, He doesn’t see any of our sin and only views us as perfect and righteous?”

This is a great question and one that many people mistranslate much of the time.

The reason I say this is that there are also other scriptures that back this up but also clarify it more, to the point that it changes what it looks like it says in this scripture.

(Hebrews 10:16-17; Psalms 25:7; Psalms 65:3; Isaiah 43:25; Isaiah 44:22; Jeremiah 33:8; Jeremiah 50:20; Micah 7:19; Acts 13:38-39; Romans 11:27; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; 1 John 1:7-9; 1 John 2:1-2; Revelation 1:5)

The actual thought behind this statement is this: God the Son – Jesus – came to earth, shed His blood as the perfect sacrifice to forgive our sins, once and for all, and we as Christians have chosen to accept that sacrifice as payment for our sins. That being the case, the fact becomes that Jesus’ blood has enveloped and covered our sins so that it appears that they never happened, in God’s sight.  Once we have been saved, we are saved for eternity – we can NEVER lose His salvation.

Think about this:
If we sin, God sees it. He sees us on the very inside of our souls and sees every sin that we have ever done or ever will do. Since God is omniscient, He knows everything.

Can God forget something to the point that He can’t see it ever again? Since He created man and we are fallible; even though we have asked Jesus to come into our heart and His blood has forgiven and cleansed us of all of our past sins.  At that point, in God’s redemptive eyes, we have never sinned and are therefore perfect in His sight making us, because of Jesus’ blood, worthy of entering Heaven (since there can be no sin in heaven).

Did those sins disappear? NO! We can still remember them. We remember what we did, what it was like when we did it, how we felt and we may even have a propensity of committing that sin again (or one like it).

Can God, now, not see any of that? Yes. Because He knows us better than a brother knows us or our best friend. Being fallible, we have the ability to root up that memory of that action (sin); He doesn’t wipe our memory clean. Even if God had forgotten all of our sins prior to our salvation, if we remember that sin after that, God would know of that sin again.

It is just impossible for God to forget our sins to the point that it appears to Him as though we never sinned. He knows that we are “blood-bought”, “born again”, fallible Christians.

He knows that we have sinned but He also sees Christ in our lives and says, “Since you know My Son, you can come into Heaven.” Jesus has become our door pass into the Party of the Universe!

Remember that I said that Jesus’ blood forgives all of our sins up to that point – the point of salvation?

What happens to the sins that we will inevitably commit after that?

Won’t that then make us dirty in God’s sight and unable to enter Heaven? Yes, and No. We will be dirty but since we still have Jesus in our lives, and the Holy Spirit dwelling within us; we will still be allowed entrance to Heaven.

Does that then give us a free pass to commit any sin we want after we are “saved”? NO! The whole chapter of Romans 6 talks about that.

What happens to the sins that we commit after we are saved?

Wow, that is a whopper of a question. The sins that we committed prior to salvation had, and still have, their consequences.  Even so, sin also has its consequences after we are saved and, if it results (or resulted) in some other consequence, regardless if it is physical, emotional or even judgmental (earthly).

Some of our sins are not seen by other people, maybe they were just a thought, but God sees them and so you are sinning against Him.

Much like the earthly courts, we will also stand before Jesus and face accountability for our unrepentant sins and our actions, whether right or wrong (1 Corinthians 3:1-11). Because of the verses before indicating that God remembers them no more, I believe that the judgment that the believers will face will be two-fold: 1) Judgment for the sins left unconfessed before God prior to the judgment (in Heaven), and 2) Judgement for the acts of service that we did and DID NOT do for God while we had the opportunity here on earth. Yes, we will be charged for the things that we knew we were supposed to do to please God and yet still didn’t do them (James 4:17).

Just for the record, the judgment that we will face as Christians is NOT the same judgment that the unsaved will face. The believer’s judgment is called the “Judgement Seat of Christ” or the “Bema Seat Judgment” (1 Corinthians 3:11-15; Jeremiah 17:7-10; 1 Peter 1:17; Romans 14:11-12; 2 Corinthians 5:9-10; Matthew 25:23; Proverbs 24:12). The unbeliever’s judgment is called the “Great White Throne Judgment” that will ultimately penalize the unsaved to an eternal separation from God in the Lake of Fire with the Devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:11-15)

Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, was reminded one day of a vicious deed that someone had done to her years before. But she acted as if she had never even heard of the incident. “Don’t you remember it?” her friend asked. “No,” came Barton’s reply, “I distinctly remember forgetting it.”

Luis Palau, Experiencing God’s Forgiveness, Multnomah Press, 1985.

That little story may be a bit humorous but I assure you that the difference between what God sees and what God doesn’t hold us accountable for, is not going to be too funny when we finally stand before God at the Judgment, whether it be the judgment for the believers or the judgment for the unbelievers.

Friend, if you fall under the heading of the unbeliever, I urge you to settle that between you and God.  Accept Christ’s sacrifice of His life on the cross as He shed His blood to be able to forgive your sins and mine, so that we may no longer have to stand accountable before Jesus and be thrown into everlasting fire (Hell) for never accepting that FREE gift of forgiveness and with it, eternal life in Heaven.

If you need any help in asking God for that forgiveness and don’t really know what to do, please contact me and I will be more than happy to guide you along.  You will never be sorry that you did.

If you have any further questions after studying through this article, please note them at the bottom of this page or you can go to our Contact Us Page to leave a more private comment that will come straight to me.  I will not try to embarrass you, but rather, I just want to make sure your questions are all cleared up.

God Bless You,

–Mark

©2013 Mark Davis

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  1. Why Did Jesus Fold the Napkin? | Christians Are Us

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