When God becomes “Forgetful”
Read Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 10:11-18
“And their sins and their lawlessness deeds I will remember no more”
The hardest thing to forget is the failures we have made in the past. Those events and acts that we have done that bring the most shame and regret. We can forget many things, but these we never do. Even though we hid them in the deepest recesses of our mind, they come back to haunt us in the night with the pain of guilt. We fear that these things will be exposed to others and so we shroud them in cloud of protective isolation.
In Jeremiah 31:31-34 God promises a new covenant with Israel for Israel had done the unthinkable, they have broken the covenant they made with God and pursued the gods of the Canaanites. God likened their disloyalty to a wayward wife who had abandoned the love of her husband to pursue lovers in the dark. But even when Israel abandon God, God did not abandon them. Instead of rejecting them because of their failure, he promised to make a new covenant, one that would be radically different than the old, one that would bring full and final transformation to Israel. Unlike the old covenant that Israel made with God on Mt. Sinai that focused upon external activities, this covenant would result in complete, internal change. They would now know God completely.
It is this new covenant that we celebrate in the church when we celebrate communion. When we affirm the words, “this cup is the new covenant in my blood” we are testifying of the New Covenant that Jeremiah spoke of. As the writer of Hebrews then points out, this covenant was substantially different. But unlike the old covenant which was inaugurated with the sacrificial blood of an animal, this covenant was inaugurated with the sacrificial blood of Christ when he died on the cross. Consequently, this covenant is eternal and brings about the finale inward transformation. It in the context of the new covenant that we then are given the promise that God will no longer remember our sins. Because of his work on the cross, this forgiveness is complete, no longer needing any other offering or sacrifice (Hebrews 10:18).
God forgets our sins. This becomes the paradox, that the God who knows all things from eternity past “forgets.” This does not mean “forget” in the sense that he no longer knows about our sin (that would be impossible), but that God “forgets” in the sense of never letting the knowledge of those sin affect how he relates to us. He no longer views us from the context of our sin, but from the context of our righteousness in Christ. God now makes us completely new so that the past is no longer significant. Paul states that the effect of Christ death is that anyone “who is in Christ is a crew creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). This is what we remember on Good Friday and Easter. We celebrate the work Christ did in removing the effects of sin so that those things that we did in the past, no matter how shameful, are a part of our identity and relationship with Christ. They are removed and made irrelevant in our life. If you have embraced Christ as your savior, the past is now “forgotten” by God. He no longer views them as significant in our relationship with him. Therefore, we have freedom from the guilt and shame because we can glory in the transformation of the new covenant. Easter is not a celebration of a bunny who only brings candy, it is a celebration of a Lamb who brings completely and final forgiveness.