“Didn’t God promise to forgive and forget all my sins through the finished work of Christ? After all, we are sinners, not perfect.”
Some of the most blessed verses in our Bibles tell us how thoroughly God has dealt with the issue of our sins. Yet some passages also show that God will remember sins if certain conditions are not met.
“Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (Heb. 10:17).
“I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins” (Isa. 43:25).
“You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19).
“My little children, these things I write to you, that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1).
“I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you” (Isa. 44:22).
“You have cast all my sins behind Your back” (Isa. 38:17).
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Ps. 103:12).
We should rejoice in the abundance of forgiveness through our God. Our studies will not be complete, though, without considering several verses which seem to indicate that God will remember certain sins for certain reasons. In other words, there are exceptions to the rule!
1. Pursuing Sin
“If we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. And again, ‘The Lord will judge His people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:26-27, 30-31).
This seems to indicate that if we want our sins forgotten, we should live as though we did not want to sin. We should hate sin and guard against it, not pursue it “willfully.”
2. Persisting in the Works of the Flesh
“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, . . . envy, murders, drunkenness . . . those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21).
If Christians accept these ungodly attitudes and behaviors in their lifestyle, the sins will not be forgotten, but will form the basis of whether they will enter the Millennial kingdom or not. Is it wise to interpret these verses in any other way?
3. An Unforgiving Heart
“Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’
And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses” (Matt. 18:32-35).
When we could not save ourselves or produce any works to redeem ourselves, God gave His Son to die in our place. He made it possible to freely forgive us every sin. If we accept such forgiveness, according to divine reasoning given in this passage, should we not practice it ourselves? If we withhold compassion and forgiveness from others, God will treat us the same way. “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you” (Matt. 7:2).
If we love mercy, God will have mercy on us. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matt. 5:7).