You’ve got 30 seconds to open up your Bible and find the passage where Jesus coined the common idea of “forgive and forget.” Ready, set, go!
Found it yet? No? Wanna know why? You guessed it - its not there! Another myth exposed. It’s amazing how some positive, feel-good phrases in culture today are automatically linked to Scripture, but when you ask someone to identify the biblical reference, the most common answer is, “I’m not sure where the exact verse is, but I know its in there somewhere.”
This may be the verse people are talking about: “I, I am he who blots out your transgression for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25).
Now wait a minute . . . isn’t that pretty straight forward? I mean, doesn’t the text say verbatim, ‘I will not remember your sins’? Sure, that’s what the translation says. But remember that sometimes cultural, social, and even grammatical details can be lost in translation. Let’s look at the original text to find out what God is really saying to Isaiah.
The Hebrew word for remember is 'zahkhor.' Despite the English definition meaning ‘recalling something past’, the Hebrew word means ‘actively focusing the mind upon something in the present.’ What God is really saying here is not ‘I can’t remember’, but more along the lines ‘I will choose not to remember.’ God will not focus on your sins in the present day once you ask forgiveness. It’s not that God is incapable of remembering something; He just chooses not to bring it back up. It’s almost like saying, ‘Let’s just act like this didn’t happen and move on.’ God is willing to forgive you of your sins and move on (despite being very aware of your past and the many times you have disobeyed him). Sometimes the grace of God is unexplainable, and we just have to accept it.
That is the amazing thing about the Gospel. When we ask God for forgiveness, he forgives our sins, but he does not forget what we did in the past. If you believe God forgets things, then you have pigeonholed the Creator of the universe as nothing more than a nice guy with short-term memory loss. God chooses to give you grace and mercy and eternal life - NOT because he has forgotten every wrong thing you have ever done, but because He loves you that much. Forgiveness always costs somebody. It’s not like your sins just disappeared into thin air as soon as you said a prayer. Your sins were paid for through a sacrifice that cost God His only Son. Sometimes the grace of God is unexplainable, and we just have to accept it.
Instead of “forgive and forget,” let’s change the motto to “remember and forgive.” Remember what God has done for you. Remember how God forgives you of your sins and separates your transgressions from you. Remember how God has forgiven you, and go and do likewise.
Remember and forgive.