Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog
When we forgive someone we usually do not forget what we forgave. Unless there is an underlying condition, our minds do not automatically or immediately delete irrelevant information, like something we no longer hold against another person. Because of this, it can be hard to understand what God’s forgiveness means for the Christian. We’ll think, “I know He has forgiven me, but there’s no way He’s forgotten about it. Maybe it will ‘cloud’ His decision to forgive me next time I ask.”
This is a very common mindset, and one that I struggle with daily. When we look at scripture, though, it paints a very different picture of what God’s forgiveness really does!
Forgiveness is the word ἀφίημι (afiemi). It has several definitions, according to Bauer:
1. To dismiss or release someone from a place or presence.
2. To release from a moral obligation or consequence, to cancel, remit, or pardon.
3. To move away with implication of causing a separation, to leave or depart from.
Knowing this, we should look at Hebrews 8.12, “For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will not remember their sins anymore.” We understand that context is geared toward contrasting the old and new covenant, but it at least gives us insight into the process behind forgiveness.
When we get forgiveness from God, that sin is eradicated. It no longer exists, it will not affect our relationship with God anymore. “Remember” in Hebrews eight is, “To call information to memory.” It’s not only that God no longer holds a sin against us, it’s that it ceases to exist in His mind. How awesome is that?
When we ask God for forgiveness, let’s approach His throne with humility, yes, but also with confidence that He has the power and desire to make that sin disappear from our account forever.
I am not sure what the connection is, but some people tie a string around their finger to remember an important date or appointment. Some people just write on their hand. Others preserve it electronically.
What do we do to keep from forgetting what is important to us spiritually? Peter writes in 2 Peter 1:12-13 that he was stirring them up by reminding them. Studying God’s Word awakens our memory to things we may have forgotten, things we have not looked deeply into in the past, or brings something to our attention in a way it has not previously. It is noteworthy that he was reminding them of something they already knew. False teachers were trying to distract and deceive them from what they knew.
Bible study is good for us to keep from falling into the traps of false teaching. Many of us come to the Lord from religious groups that teach something different from the Bible about salvation, worship, the end of time, leadership, or the like. Keep your Bible and your heart open to what you study, and you will keep reminding yourself of the joy and blessings of New Testament Christianity.
Later in the letter, Peter writes, “Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandments of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior” (3:1-2). That covers everything–the Old Testament and the New Testament. It is also a reminder that if you live another 50 or 75 years, you will always need to study and remind yourself of what the Bible says on every subject.
If you have ever lost or forgotten something important that cost you in some way, you learned the value of remembering. If you have ever been to a memorial or monument, you have benefited from that reflection. If you want to grow in your faith and knowledge, be stirred up by being reminded of the important, spiritual things revealed in Scripture.