““Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”” (Jeremiah 31:31–34 ESV)

“Is the evidence of having forgiven someone forgetting what he has done to you? Jeremiah 31:34 is often quoted, where God says, “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

There are at least two problems with this understanding of forgiveness. First, it is not realistic. Trying to forget a sin someone has committed against you will only encourage you to remember it. Completely erasing an offense from your memory is not realistic. Second, it is not biblical. Our omniscient God does not forget anything! The word “remember” in Jeremiah 31:34 is not a memory word, but a promise word, a covenant word. God is promising that when we confess our sins, “I will not treat you as your sins deserve. Instead, I will forgive you.” Forgiveness is a past promise you keep in the future. It is very important to understand these two dimensions of forgiveness. If you don’t, you will veer off in one of two equally wrong directions: (1) You will be plagued with doubts about whether you have forgiven someone because you think that forgiving equals forgetting.

Or (2) you will give in to bitterness because you think that, since you have forgiven someone in the past, you are allowed to hold onto the vestiges of hurt in the present. Neither reflects the way God has forgiven us.”

by Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp, May 26, p 147.  From Heart of the Matter: Daily Reflections for Changing Hearts and Lives by Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation. Copyright © 2012 by Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation. Used by permission of New Growth Press.