Do you remember when you messed up? When you got drunk and went too far? What about the flirtation that went too far? What about saying stupid stuff at the job or Thanksgiving? When you lost your temper? What about your bad behavior generally? What about that abortion? Shoplifting?
We all have regrets.
Biblical theology says that God forgets your past. That may be difficult to believe, but there is in Scripture a doctrine called Judicial Forgetfulness. It is summed up in these words in the context of the New Covenant:
“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 8:12; cf. Jeremiah 31:34)
God is omniscient, so he doesn’t literally forget, but he expunges your past judicially; the past is gone, wiped clean. If you have repented of your past, God never throws it in your face again. If you still have regrets about it, you are not listening to Scripture. Instead, you wandered into the devil’s playground.
We need to have confidence the next time accusers bring up our nation’s past. One on one, we can tell the accuser that national leaders like Reagan have already apologized for national sins. Imposing guilt and a demand for an apology on individual citizens like you and me is unreasonable. Instead, we’ll study history, but we won’t be guilt-tripped by it anymore.
In your personal life, you can inform the accuser that you have repented of your own sins, and Scripture assures you that God has forgiven you and judicially forgets your past. In your own soul you understand that you no longer play in the devil’s playground. Now you have confidence in God’s love. Remind the accusers of the gospel of love and forgiveness.
But what if the accusers claim that the past is still impacting the present?
The answer is always the same: the accused need to move past the past and get injected with forgiveness and gratitude, two virtues that are the opposite of bitterness and unforgiveness. The answer is always that the good news of the gospel of Divine Judicial Forgetfulness — or simply the gospel of grace — releases all of us from the past. We no longer have to feel an ill-defined guilt that hovers over our head like a dark cloud.
How does this post help me grow in my knowledge and relationship with God?
If you cannot seem to forget your past, then you have a condemned heart. But here is what 1 John 3:19-24 says:
19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us. NIV, emphasis added)
To get rid of your condemned heart, all you have to do is believe in Jesus and love others–but only by his grace! And you have the Spirit living in you, so you are acceptable to God–he accepts you!
Heb. 9:14 says the blood of Christ cleanses our conscience:
How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
And Heb. 10:22 says our hearts have been sprinkled with by the High Priest (Jesus), so we can draw near to God.
Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience
As the old saying goes, the next time the devil reminds you of your past, remind him of his future doom and hell (Matthew 25:41).
Personally, leave the devil’s playground behind. Leave the past behind. Leave the regrets behind. Follow Jesus to a bright, new future.