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Forgive and Forget?

When God forgives our sins, does he really forget what we have done? Or, as some translations indicate, is it probably more accurate to say that, when he forgives us, he does not remember those sins against us (Psalm 79:8)? I’m raising the question because I ended an earlier post saying that forgiveness, as described in the Bible, does not require a return to business as usual. Before I add a few more thoughts to the problem of forgiving ourselves, I’d like to try to answer a question we often ask about the relationship between forgiveness and consequences.

If we really forgive one another, does that mean we will act as if nothing ever came between us? You’ve probably noticed, as I have, that those who have confessed their wrongs sometimes ask something like, “Now that I’ve admitted my wrong, now that God has forgiven me, and now that the Bible requires you to forgive me, can we act like this never happened?”

According to the Bible, forgiveness allows for appropriate consequences. From all indications, God forgave Adam and Eve, and then removed them from the Garden. God seems to have forgiven the anger of Moses, but wouldn’t let him into the Promised Land. For sure we know that God forgave David for adultery and murder, but would not let David have the child born of his adultery.

The love that motivates true forgiveness allows for and often calls for consequences. A forgiver may still wisely and lovingly ask for reasonable restitution, legal due process, a plan to avoid recurrences, and time to heal. Wise follow-through is often necessary if we are going to forgive and love well.



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5 Responses to “Forgive and Forget?”

  1. estuardo says:

    As with the understanding of what unconditional forgiveness really is, I struggle with the ‘forgetting’ aspect required in forgiveness. Since forgiveness is a process, forgetting will be too. There will be a time for an appropiate ‘letting go’, and maybe what we are really forgetting is the anger or bitterness the offense generated. If the expression, ‘fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me”, is valid, we would be wise to not let the offense be completely removed, but use it as a building block to better understand relationships (in the forms of enabling another, etc.) and ourselves.

  • charlie64 says:

    I don’t believe we can forgive and totoaly forget,but I think we can move on,and expect our act of forgiveness to heal whatever we forgave>However sometimes forgiveness is the easy part! It is the m oving on that will trip us up everytime.In our own power we cannot even forgive but with the power of the Holy Spirit in our hearts He enables us to forgive as God would have us do!!!