42. God who Forgets

God in the Psalms No.42 – God who forgets

Psa 25:7 Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways;

Memory is a strange thing. We want to remember things and can’t, and the things we’d rather forget we can’t.   We’d like to be able to remember all the good things we’ve done and all the good times we’ve had – but so often we forget. But then there are the bad things we’ve done, the embarrassing things we’ve said, and we wish they could be utterly blotted from our memories, but they remain there in stark clarity. David has been asking the Lord to teach and guide him, and he’s fearful of anything that might hinder the Lord doing that. He looks back and, like we’ve just said, he’s got memories of the past that he’d rather forget and he worries that those things from his youth might disqualify him from knowing the Lord and receiving His blessing. It is a common worry. So he cries to the Lord, Lord, please forget my foolish past, see my heart today.

Isaiah made a similar call: “Do not be angry beyond measure, O LORD; do not remember our sins forever” (Isa 64:9). Most of the time the cry to the Lord was to remember the past, His relationship with Israel, or the Lord Himself saying He would remember their sin to judge it. So, here we have just two calls for the Lord to forget, calls that find echoes in most of our hearts.

And the good news? Isaiah has it again: “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Isa 43:25). How was the Lord able to say that justly? Isaiah heard it: “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.” (Isa 40:2). The Lord had dealt with Jerusalem in Isaiah’s day and therefore once dealt with, He did not keep on harping back to it. Also Isa 44:22 “I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist.” The Lord laid down the principle through Ezekiel: “And if I say to the wicked man, `You will surely die,’ but he then turns away from his sin and does what is just and right….. None of the sins he has committed will be remembered against him. He has done what is just and right; he will surely live.” (Ezek 33:14-16) In other words where there is true repentance the Lord will wipe away from His memory the past sins. David came to really know this: “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psa 103:12). There is no measurable distance between ‘East’ and ‘West’ so he says they have been completely taken away and forgotten!  The prophet Micah knew the same thing: “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance?” (Mic 7:18).

Here was a principle being wrought in the Old Testament that burst through into full glory in the New Testament: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Rom 3:23,24). And do you remember what they say justification means? It’s “just as if I’d never sinned”. That’s what the work of Jesus does. He so completely deals with our sins on the Cross that it’s like there was never any sin. We’ve been forgiven, washed and cleansed (1 Jn 1:9), and once God cleanses or purifies, He doesn’t keep going back to look at the dirt that was washed off. That’s why Paul could say, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1). The past has been dealt with. God has forgotten it. Move on!  What’s next?

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