There is a story about a much-loved pastor who carried the burden of a secret sin he had committed years before. He had repented but still had no peace, no sense of God’s forgiveness. In his congregation was a woman who deeply loved her Savior and who claimed to have visions in which Jesus would speak to her.
The pastor was skeptical, so he gave her this test: “The next time you are with Jesus, I want you to ask him what sin your pastor committed while he was in the seminary.”
The woman agreed, and a few days later, the pastor asked, “Well, did Jesus visit you in your dreams? What did he say when you asked him what sin I committed?”
“He said, ‘I don’t remember.’ ”
Why is it hard to understand that God forgives and chooses not to remember our sins?
I need forgiveness
You know the feeling; I know you do. You are a disciple of Christ, but there, whispering in your ear, is the past, reminding you of moments when you forgot you belonged to him. That awful lie. That business trip you took that led to so much temptation. The time you exploded in anger. That day you were needed but didn’t respond. That jealousy. That habit. That grudge. You cannot forget. You and I need forgiveness.
Why is it that sometimes the hardest person to forgive is yourself?
Jeremiah 31:34 says, “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” God doesn’t just forgive. He chooses not to remember. He erases the board. He destroys the evidence. He clears the computer. For all the things he does do, this one thing he refuses to do: He refuses to keep a list of my wrongs! The common word for “forgive” in the Bible literally means to “send away.” This is what God does with your sin.
Read Leviticus 16:6-22.
As you read about the Day of Atonement and the two goats, what is God teaching about how he forgives?
The people who sin against me need forgiveness
Why do we struggle to forgive? It’s because we have been wronged, and we need to be repaid. In fact, “debt” is one of the pictures Scripture uses for sin. Jesus teaches us to pray, “Forgive us our debts” (Matthew 6:12).
When others sin against you, it is not okay! I tell my kids they are not allowed to say, “It’s okay,” when someone apologizes. Instead, tell them what you are really doing: “I forgive you.” I am sending your sin away! Why will I do this? It is because of how much more greatly God has forgiven me!
Read Matthew 18:21-35.
What are practical ways you can show others you forgive them (i.e. you forgive and “forget”)?
Author: David Scharf
Volume 107, Number 05
Issue: May 2020
- Psalm 103: When you count your blessings
- Psalm 91: When God lifts you up on his lap
- Psalm 4: When you draw nearer to the end
- Psalm 42: When you ask, “Where is God when I’m hurting?”
- Psalm 32: When you need forgiveness
- Psalm 130: When rocks fall
- Bible study: Freedom in service
- What does this mean for me? Article 6
- Bible study: Spiritual gifts
- What does this mean for me? Article 5
- What does this mean for me? Article 4
- Bible study: Rejoice in your status!
- Bible study: Baptismal blessings
- What does this mean for me? Article 3
- What does this mean for me? Article 2
- Bible study: Gifts of tongues and miraculous healing
- What does this mean for me? Article 1
- Bible study: Jesus is everyone’s Savior
- Bible study: Love one another
- Bible study: Above all things!
- Bible study: The comfort of God’s providence
- The book of James: Waiting for Christ’s return
- Bible study: Precious grace
- The book of James: Active in using prayer
- Bible study: Rewards of grace
- The book of James: Active in showing love
- The book of James: Correctly evaluating riches
- Bible study: What’s going to happen on the Last Day?
- The book of James: Avoiding loveless judging
- Bible study: Interpretation practice
- The book of James: Taming the tongue
- Bible study: The Bible’s attributes
- Bible study: The importance of the family altar
- Bible study: God’s attitude is grace
- Bible study: The Bible’s account of Easter morning
- Bible study: Different types of sin
- Bible study: God’s inspiration
- Bible study: Giving God glory
- Bible study: Judge for yourself
- The book of James: Using the Word of Truth
- Bible study: The need for the Bible and worship
- Bible study: Citizens of two kingdoms
- The book of James: Active in good works
- The book of James: When battling temptation
- Bible study: God cares
- Bible study: God made the world
- The book of James: When facing trials
- Bible study: A loving God saved people from hell
- The book of James: A blueprint for living out our life of faith
- A Bible story just for me: Guilt
- Bible study: God provides victory over death!
- A Bible story just for me: Anxiety
- Bible study: God forgives and refuses to remember our sins
- A Bible story just for me: Grief
- Bible study: God helps those who cannot help themselves
- A Bible story just for me: Depression
- Bible study: God has not grown soft on sin
- Bible study: Only one path leads to God’s presence
- A Bible story just for me: Trauma
- A Bible story just for me
- Bible study: God wants me in heaven
- Bible study: The incarnation of our Lord