Study 4 WHEN GOD FORGIVES, HE FORGETS!
GREAT STATEMENTS OF THE GOSPEL
by Francis Dixon
(Key verse: Isaiah 43:25)
If you were to visit a jeweller’s shop and ask to see a diamond, the first thing the jeweller would do would be to place a black cloth over his counter, and he would then show you a sparkling diamond against the jet black background of the cloth. The diamond would appear all the brighter against the black surroundings. Now, God employs this same method in His Word. Over and over again, when we are reading through a dreary account of sin and failure, we suddenly come across a gem of divine grace that shines out in the darkness that surrounds it. We have an example of this in our key verse. In verses 22-24 we see the dark background, but verse 25 is the gem that God places against this dark background, a gem that sparkles with heavenly radiance. We learn from this great statement of the gospel that God is not indifferent to sin. He is not complacent about it. Men and women cannot sin with impunity and get away with it. God is just and holy, and sin is never treated lightly by Him. We are in danger on the one hand of thinking that sin does not matter, and on the other hand of thinking that we are too sinful for God to help us and to save us. The wonderful message of the gospel, however, is that although God hates sin and must deal with it, He has made provision for the sinner to be forgiven and His promise is that when He forgives He forgets. Look at the key verse, and notice three things that it declares:-
1. THE PERSON WHO SPEAKS
Who is it who says, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions… ?” It is God, and when we speak about God it is always as well for us to remember three things about Him:-
- 1. He is the one who made us, and He made us for Himself. This is clearly stated in verses 7 and 21. He is the Creator of the world, but He is our Creator – look up Colossians 1:16 and compare Genesis 1:26; Malachi 2:10; Acts 17:28-29. God created us, not for our own sake, but for His glory.
- 2. He is the one against whom we have sinned. Verses 22-24 state this very clearly, and while the primary application is to Israel, we find here a perfect description of men and women everywhere, for there is not one of us who is without sin. God is the offended One – “I, even I…” – and we must never forget this. Sin is not a light matter, but is very serious, and we can only ever come to know God and be brought back into fellowship with Him when the question of our sin has been dealt with and the barrier of our sin has been removed.
- 3. He is the only One who can save us. Verse 11 makes this absolutely clear, and the reason is that we have sinned against Him – look up Psalm 51:4; Isaiah 59:1-2; Luke 15:18,21, and compare Psalm 130:4.
So we see that God is speaking to us, inviting us to come and receive His pardon.
2. THE OFFER HE MAKES
What is it? It is two-fold. He tells us that if we will place our trust in Him, He will not only forgive our sins but He will forget our sins. We have all sinned in two different ways: we have committed acts of sin and we have omitted to do those things that are pleasing to God. We are guilty of sins of commission and sins of omission; we have done things we should not have done, and we have failed to do things we ought to have done. Both aspects of sin are mentioned here. The word ’transgressions’ means rebellion, lawlessness or revolt, which are sins of commission. The word ’sins’ means failures, and includes the idea of coming short of God’s glory or missing the mark (Romans 3:23) - and these are sins of omission. Now, God offers to forgive and to forget both kinds of sin, which is very much more than human forgiveness can do. When someone sins against us, even if he comes and asks for forgiveness and we gladly forgive him, as we should, it is not by any means always possible for us to forget the sin that he has committed. We may try to forget and wish to forget, but sometimes we cannot do so; but God can, and He promises to do just this! Our key verse tells us that He blots out the record of our sins. This is a commercial term. We are hopelessly in debt to Him, but He cancels the obligation. He wipes it out completely. He leaves no record against us (compare Romans 8:1 with Colossians 2:14). He blots out the very memory of our sins. He puts our sins for ever out of His sight - behind His back (Isaiah 38:17), at an immeasurable distance from Him (Psalm 103:12), even into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19). On what grounds does He do this? He does it on the grounds of Calvary, where His Son, our Saviour, died to make provision for our pardon and our cleansing - once again look up and revel in the glorious truth of 1 John 1:7.
3. THE REASON HE GIVES
Why does the Lord offer to forgive us and to forget our sins? He does so because He loves us, because we need Him greatly, and because we are in danger of judgment and hell; but in our key verse He tells us that the supreme reason for His action toward us in grace is not because of anything in us, for there is nothing good in us anyway, but simply because of what He is in Himself. He forgives our sins and forgets our sins ”for his own sake”. In other words, for His glory, for the glory of the Lord Jesus who has died and has risen again to provide a full and a free salvation - rejoice in the truth of Ephesians 2:7-9. Have you accepted God’s gracious offer to forgive and to forget your sin? Have you come to Him, bowed at His feet, and thanked Him for His Son’s great sacrifice on the Cross?