Have you ever walked out of your house without your keys, wallet, or phone? How many times? I’ve lost county how often I’ve done that. Have you ever forgotten someone’s name? An appointment? A promise?

Memory is something precious and vital. Today, memory clinics assist in the diagnosis and response to dementia and Alzheimer’s. Centuries ago, teachers and communicators would memorize significant portions of classical writings and wow their students with impeccable memories.

For most of us today, we remember what we value (a person’s name, sports statistic, or even subject in school). We have many memory aids today. Our smart phones store names, numbers, and calendars. Our laptops and tablets keep our notes and documents. These advances are helpful tools. But even so, we have trouble with our memory.

The things we want to remember, we forget, but the things we want to forget, we always remember.

While we forget some things (appointments and names), we find it very difficult to forget other things. Do we forget the grudge we are holding against that other person? Do we forget the angry word or response to a spouse or child? Do we forget the images of the forbidden pictures we’ve looked at? And these are just a sample of the sinful things we find it hard to forget.

We find it very difficult to forget the pains and wrongs done to us. Do we forget the slight of someone who is supposed to care about us? Do we forget the misdeed or mistreatment from a loved one? Do we forget the pain caused by mean or abusive behavior? Some things done to us we find it hard to forget.

The things we remember whether what we’ve done or what others have done to us too often shape our self-perception and identity. Often, these identity related self-perceptions are lies. Here are some lies we are tempted to believe: We are not worthy of love because of the way we were treated. We must deserve the anger, hate, and vitriol spewed by the person who is supposed to love us. We can’t forgive ourselves of our misdeeds, so we must be unforgivable.

But these are lies. We must learn to believe what God says to us and about us.

In the New Covenant quoted by the writer of Hebrews from Jeremiah 31, God says the following about us:

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord,
    when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel
    and with 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.
For they did not continue in my covenant,
    and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
    after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws into their minds,
    and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
    and they shall be my people.
11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor
    and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
for they shall all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
    and I will remember their sins no more.”

Hebrews 8:8-12

God says that he will make a new covenant with his people. God says that he will make his people new, putting his law in our hearts and minds. God has that his people will know him “from the least to the greatest.” God says that he will show mercy and “remember their sins no more.”

We are recipients of the New Covenant and these promises if we have trusted in Christ alone to be our Savior. And if we have become a part of his people, his family, then God has chosen to “remember our sins no more.”

The truths of this passage encourage us in some very important ways.

  • If God remembers our sins no more, then our identity must not be found in our sins. Too many of us are holding too tightly to the sins of our past. We either do this because we don’t think we deserve anything better (a form of self-punishment) or because we don’t really want to put our sins in the past (a form of self-temptation). Yes, we are sinners (see Romans 3:23), but we are also saints (1 Corinthians 6:11) who have been sanctified and set apart for God as new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17). Stop beating yourself up because of your past and start believing what God says about you.
  • If God remembers our sins no more, then our identity will one day go far beyond the pains and sins done to us. Too many of us are bound and enslaved by the abusive and sinful behaviors that we’ve experienced. Please read carefully. I do not suppose that this post is a simple answer to your emotional and psychological sufferings. But do read this. You are not defined by how others have treated you. If God can choose to forget our sins, then there is coming a day and time in eternity when our sufferings, pains, and abuse experiences will no longer enslave us. Heaven is our future, God is enthroned in heaven, and your suffering will have no sway over there. To those who have experienced abuse and suffering at the hands of others, let me encourage you to talk to someone. Confide in someone you can trust. Maybe see a counselor. You don’t have to navigate your sufferings and experiences alone.
  • If God remembers our sins no more, then we need to forgive others and ourselves. God is the only truly, legitimately, holy being in all the universe. Every sin ever committed is an affront to his holiness. And the glory of our God and his gospel is that he sent his Son Jesus to pay for our sins, to cleanse us, and to offer us redemption. If God, through Christ can and does forgive our sins, then we must not withhold forgiveness from someone else (Matthew 6:12-15). If God through Christ can and does forgive our sins, then we must forgive ourselves. We only harm ourselves when we fail to forgive–ourselves or others.

So remember this:

God will never forget his promises, but he chooses to forget the sins he has covered through Christ.

That is our God. And that is who we are through Christ.

Photo by Robert Linder on Unsplash

This week we continue in our reflection of of God’s attributes, specifically his goodness attributes. In this post and the previous two posts, we are following Millard Erickson’s division of greatness and goodness attributes found in his book, Introducing Christian Doctrine. Last week’s attributes focused on God’s character and nature with regard to his purity and righteousness. This week’s post emphasizes God’s goodness with regard to his loving interaction with humanity.

How do you imagine God? Do you think of him as an ancient old man smiling down on his poor creatures? Do you think of him as a grandfather figure? Do you think of him as a wrathful tyrant ready to strike rebellious humans with a lighting bolt? By the way, that last question describes the Greek deity, Zeus, far more than the God of the Bible.

My reason for asking your perception of God is that who you believe God to be plays a significant role in how you respond to him. If God is wrathful, then you might be afraid of hm. If God is a loving grandfather type, then you might want to just sit with him. If God is an old man prone to smiles, then you might merely laugh at him.

Our perceptions of God are not always accurate. For right and true understanding of who God is, we need his self-revelation found in Scripture.

The testimony of Scripture is far greater and more glorious than our typecast images of God. In fact, our typecast images of God might be idolatrous (see Exodus 20:3-6).

When we reflect on God, we need to see him for who he reveals himself to be rather than our preconceived notions. We need to see God as fully and gloriously as possible. These posts are my very limited attempt to get us to think of God in the greatness, grandeur, glory, and goodness that he has revealed himself to be. If this is your first time reading one of my posts, please go back and reflect on God’s transcendence, immanence, Trinitarian unity, greatness, and goodness (pt. 1). Here are three more goodness attributes that we discover from the Bible.

God is mercy. Mercy is not getting what one deserves. Mercy is the counterpart to justice. It is just when God punishes sin. Throughout biblical history, God punished sin individually and corporately. In the Old Testament, God judged Israel for her idolatry and punished individuals specifically for their sinfulness. When God shows mercy, he stays his hand of judgment. We want God to be just, and he is. But if God were absolutely just, in that he could only act according to justice, then we would be in a hopeless situation. If God were just with you and me, we would be destined for eternity in the judgment of hell. Yet God is merciful. He does not give us what we deserve.

God is grace. Grace is getting what one does not deserve. An acrostic of GRACE exhibits a biblical analogy using the phrase: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Paul explained, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). God saves us by his grace, that is his unmerited favor to us. God does not save us according to our works for then we would be doomed to punishment. He does not save us because of our work for our works are not sufficient to satisfy his holiness and righteousness. He saves us by his grace. God merits believers with the righteousness of Christ. More than that, God shares with believers his abundant riches and glory. Grace in the greek language is charis, or gift. God’s grace is an undeserved gift that he bestows upon believing sinners. His grace is that he makes saints of sinners.

God is love. If people who are not followers of Christ believe anything about God, it is that God is love. God specifically defines himself as love when John writes: “God is love” (1 John 4:7). The word used here for God’s love is agape. It is a selfless, other-oriented love. God loves not because of what he gains, but because of what he gives. His love is purely and perfectly for the good and benefit of the objects of his love. Only God can perfectly love like this. While God expects us to love him and others with this kind of love, we only can love this way because he first loved us this way (Matthew 22:37-40; John 13:34). God’s love for his creatures is what motivated him to send Jesus to save us (John 3:16).

God is greater than we can imagine, and his goodness is deeper than we can dream. These attributes are perfected in the person of Jesus Christ. He is God’s expression of love to mankind as well as full of grace, truth, and mercy (John 1:14).

These attributes of God should motivate us to follow Jesus. It is God’s mercy, grace, and love that invites wicked sinners into a relationship of forgiveness with a holy and righteous God. If you are not yet a follower of Jesus, consider these attributes.

  • Discover the God who is just and the justifier of those who believe by his mercy and grace.
  • Worship the God who loves you in spite of your sinfulness.
  • Obey the God who does not give you the death and judgment you deserve.
  • Serve the God who offers you the unmerited riches of his grace forever and ever.

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Romans 3:21-26 (emphasis mine)