Does God Ever Forget?
Does God forget sin?

Anyone other than me find themselves becoming a little more forgetful as they get older?

It happens, doesn’t it? The same weakness we saw in our parents and grandparents (and chuckled at!) is now showing up in us. And if you haven’t experienced this yet, no worries…it will happen!

Forgetfulness. It’s a human foible. But is it one God shares with us?

Some people say yes. They say God forgets our sin because of the forgiveness we have in Jesus. They cite verses such as:

  • “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” ~ Isaiah 43:25
  • “For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” ~ Hebrews 8:12
  • “Then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” ~ Hebrews 10:17

But is not remembering the same as forgetting? Maybe for people, but not for God. God is not like a doddering old grandfather with a faulty memory.

Whenever the Bible refers to God remembering, it has nothing to do with a poor memory. He is perfect and omniscient—He knows everything.

When the Bible says God remembers, it means God is ready to act.

Consider these examples of verses that talk about God remembering:

  • “But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided.” ~ Genesis 8:1
  • “Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb.” ~ Genesis 30:22
  • “And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.” ~ Exodus 2:24

So when God “forgets” our sin, it means He will not act on them. He will not hold them against us. He will not pour His wrath on us. And He will not judge and condemn us.

Why? Because Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath so we would not have to.

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” ~ Romans 5:8-9

When God “blots out our sins” He covers them with His Son’s blood, sacrificed for us. He doesn’t forget our sin. How could He? If He “forgot” our sin, then He’d have to forget the reason for Jesus’s sacrificial death.

An infinite, perfect, omniscient God forgets nothing.

A holy, righteous, just God requires payment for sin.

And a merciful, compassionate, and gracious God provides that payment.

The result is that there is now no sin for Him to act on—to “remember”—because everything that needed to be done was done at the Cross.

Those who put their full faith and trust in Christ are clean in God’s sight…as clean as His Son, Jesus.

That’s why King David could say with confidence in Psalm 18:20-24:

“The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness;
    according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.
For I have kept the ways of the Lord,
    and have not wickedly departed from my God.
For all his rules were before me,
    and his statutes I did not put away from me.
I was blameless before him,
    and I kept myself from my guilt.
So the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
    according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.”

Despite all his sin, David knew, in God’s sight, he was righteous. And Christians can say the same thing.

It’s all about amazing grace. Intentional grace. Grace that provides a right standing before God even though we don’t deserve it. Grace that enables us to say with David, I’m righteous in His sight.

Not forgetfulness. Grace.

May we never confuse them.

*All verses are quoted from the English Standard Version (ESV).