For I will be merciful to their wrongdoing,
and I will never again remember their sins.
It is I who sweep away your transgressions for My own sake
and remember your sins no more.
Last Wednesday, my daily devotional reading was near the end of the book of Judges, where Samson met his fateful end after a life of disordered love and disobedience. As I closed my Bible that morning, I recalled how the sad epitaph on Samson’s life in Judges (“he killed more in his death than he did in his life”) is not repeated in the New Testament. The author of Hebrews lists Samson as a man of faith. Period. How kind of the Lord, I thought, to put Samson’s flawed legacy in the background and simply list him as a hero, one who “gained strength after being weak.”
Later that day, Johnny Hunt spoke at LifeWay’s chapel and delivered a truth-filled message about how God’s grace overcomes past regrets. He brought up God’s promise to “forget” our sins, to never bring up our past again, and he pointed to the New Testament’s discussion of Old Testament heroes as proof.
Think about it. No matter how flawed our heroes are shown to be in the Old Testament, they are presented at their best in the New.
Noah’s story doesn’t have a flattering end. The one righteous man who obeyed God and survived the flood winds up drunk and naked in his tent. But the New Testament makes no mention of Noah’s drunken escapade. We see him as a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5) who condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith (Hebrews 11:7).
Lot seems to be a half-hearted believer, waffling between his position in Sodom and his faith in the Lord. His family members laugh at him when he warns them of judgment, perhaps due to his lack of godly credibility. In the end, the angels must compel him to leave the city. Then, after Sodom’s demise, there’s a tragic scene of incest between Lot and his daughters. But the New Testament holds up Lot as an example of righteousness, someone “distressed by the unrestrained behavior of the immoral” (2 Peter 2:7).
Abraham is the father of the faithful, but he had moments of significant weakness. He was willing to put his wife’s life at risk by lying to Pharaoh, and he slept with a slave in order to produce an heir. But these stains on Abraham’s record are not mentioned in the Hebrews account of his life. He was looking forward to the city whose architect and builder is God (Hebrews 11:10).
Moses’ anger and pride kept him out of the Promised Land, but the New Testament refers to him as “faithful as a servant in all God’s household” (Hebrews 3:5) who “persevered as one who sees Him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27).
Then there’s David. The great king of Israel covets his neighbor’s wife, steals her for himself, lies to cover up his sin, and then has her husband killed. But David is never remembered for his wickedness. In fact, the New Testament quotes more heavily from the book that bears the name of this philandering murderer than any other Old Testament book.
God Promises to Forget
What do these examples show us? When God promises to forget your sin and never bring up your past indiscretions, your flaws, failures, and rebellious deeds, He is serious. He will never again bring up your sins. As far as the east is from the west, our sins have been removed.
As Gil would remind us:
“Isn’t that a glorious promise? That God won’t ever bring up our sin again? Takes a lifetime of determination to get that truth planted deep in your heart. We commit to memory. God commits to forgetfulness.” - Clear Winter Nights