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Many have a problem with forgiving themselves for things even after they have asked God’s forgiveness. Sometimes, even those who are baptized continue remembering their past and wondering whether God has truly forgiven them.
There is a difference between forgiving and forgetting. Saul of Tarsus was forgiven of his sins when he was baptized to wash them away (Acts 22:16), but he still remembered his past life and often referred to the things he had done. He said “many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them” (Acts 26:10). He wrote Timothy that he had been “a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man...This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Tim. 1:13,15).
King David was forgiven of his sin with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 12:13), but later his conscience caused him to write, “my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight” (Ps. 51:3,4).
The apostle Peter denied the Lord, and his conscience was pierced by the crowing of a rooster (Lk. 22:54-61). How do you think he felt every time he heard a rooster crow?
When a child of God commits sin and asks for God’s forgiveness, how does he know that he has been forgiven? The same way that one who has obeyed the Lord in baptism knows that his past sins are washed away—by what God promised. John said, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9). This does not mean that we cannot remember that we committed them, but it does mean that we can also remember that God forgave them.
The Bible records many sins of which God’s people had been forgiven. A man in Corinth, who was living with his father’s wife, obviously repented after the action of the church (1 Cor. 5), and later Paul told the Corinthians, “you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow” (2 Cor. 2:7). He remembered he had committed the sin, but he remembered also that he had repented and been forgiven.
Forgiveness, from God or from one another, does not mean that it is forgotten, but that it is no longer held against the person. When a person says, “I’ll forgive you, but I will not forget it,” they usually mean something wrong, but in a sense, we can forgive a person without forgetting.
Forgiveness from God or from one another, does not mean that it is forgotten, but that it is no longer held against the person. When one says “I’ll forgive you for that, but I won’t forget it,” he usually means something wrong, but in a sense we can forgive without forgetting.
Copyright Midway Church of Christ 2014 This page last modified July 03, 2014