Are you carrying memories of your past errors and worry about God forgiving you?
Have you wondered, “Can God who knows everything completely forgive and forget?”
I like to share the story of a minister who had sinned very badly and even though he had confessed his sin, he never felt forgiven.
A lady in the minister’s church was always saying, “The Lord said to me such and such.” It wasn’t that he didn’t believe her, because she was usually right. It’s just that she really irked him.
One day the minister said, “If God is speaking to you, ask Him to tell you what it was I did years ago.” The next time he saw her he demanded “Well, did you ask God?” “Yes,” she replied. “And what did He say?” asked the minister. “He said He doesn’t remember.”
God Doesn’t Remember
The minister’s problem was a lack of understanding. God chooses to not keep an account. Rather than focus on our past, God forgives so He can help each of us move forward, learning to do better. In essence what He has forgiven is no longer relevant—it is as forgotten.
The same misperception about God is all too common among many believers. We tend to think God has a personality like the fictional Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. We believe God loves us with an “unfailing love” while we also think our error causes Him to disdain and condemn us to “unfailing punishment.” We perceive God is very gracious and yet can be very cruel.
God forgives rather than focusing on our past.
God’s True Nature
Our confusion is over the nature of God. Do we really believe God’s nature is tainted with hate or disdain for us? We even think His justice condemns rather than corrects. Scripture tells us God ‘is’ love. All His actions are motivated by the love that makes up His nature (see 1 John 4:7-8, 16). The only dark side of God arises in our mistaken views.
The confused perception seemingly gives some folks license to represent Him as an angry God; ready to destroy those who disagree with Him. Thus, many of us often use this flawed perception as an excuse for our own love-hate reaction to each other. After all, isn’t God like this?
While our human love can fail; God’s simply cannot. He ‘is’ love. His forgiving nature is often lost in our lack of understanding of such perfect love. Chapter three of The Christ Culture elaborates on just how full God’s forgiving love is.
God’s forgiving nature is often lost in our lack of understanding of His perfect love.
Fear of the Lord
So where do we get the idea that a loving God has a “Mr. Hyde” dark side? I believe this recurrent thinking stems from teaching that we are to fear the Lord. A well-known verse used to support such is:
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10)
The Hebrew word translated fear in this verse means reverence; a deep respect mixed with awe and wonder. A different Hebrew word represents a dreadful fear. This verse is actually saying, “The reverence and knowledge of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and understanding.”
God does not want us to dread Him. On the contrary, He beckons us to come with awe and wonder. It is a reverence of God that nurtures a trust and confidence in our heavenly Father’s unfailing love and forgiving nature toward each of us.
Rather than dread Him, God wants us to come with awe and wonder.
Forgiven and Forgotten
Most certainly, we can count on God’s forgiving nature. His forgiveness is full and complete. Toss away the Jekyll and Hyde perception—free yourself of such nonsense—and trust God’s love for you. He wants to help you do so!
The more we understand God’s love and forgiving nature, the more effectively we are transformed into better expressions of that love. Our Father’s abundance is unmeasurable.
Join us on this journey with our forgiving God! Grab your copy of The Christ Culture. Get a few copies to bless your friends and family. We’ve even prepared a Guide to assist small group discussions.
Keith Carroll, “The Relationship Guy”
Relational Gospel Founder