To Say God Does “Not Remember” Our Sins Denies His Omniscience
Go to the internet and google images with the search parameters, “God forgets Isaiah 43:25,” and you see many pictures with the representative caption “God doesn’t remember our sin.” Isaiah 43:25 (ESV) reads:
25 “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.
To publish an image with such a caption is understandable because, on the surface, Isaiah 43:25 seems to teach that God suffers from amnesia. Yet, to say that God does “not remember” denies God’s fundamental attribute of omniscience. Theologian Dr. Wayne Grudem defines omniscience:
3. Knowledge (Omniscience). God’s knowledge may be defined as follows: God fully knows himself and all things actual and possible in one simple and eternal act.
Grudem, W. A. (2004). Systematic theology: an introduction to biblical doctrine (p. 190). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House.
Since God must be omniscient, i.e., all-knowing, what does Isaiah 43:25 teach us about what God does with our sins?
Anthropomorphisms Cannot be Taken Literally
Every Bible student must remember that God is infinite, and man is finite. This vast difference requires Scripture to describe God in human terminology. One cannot take this human terminology literally. In his Practical Christian Theology, Floyd H. Barackman writes on page 59:
In the Bible, it is said that God has human forms (anthropomorphisms) and animal forms (zoomorphisms) and that He expresses human emotions (anthropopathisms), all of which are not attributable to His divine nature. Since God does not have parts as we do, the purpose of these figurative expressions is to reveal truth about Him in an impressive way to which we humans can relate.
The Bible Student Must Apply the Analogy of Faith
Isaiah 43:25 tells me is that God (1) “blots out” my sins, and (2) “will not remember” my sins. To understand what this means, the Bible student must employ the bedrock principle of biblical interpretation termed “analogy of faith.” One very brief definition reads:
ANALOGY OF THE FAITH. Conferring with other Scriptures to interpret unclear sections by the clear ones.
Swanson, J., & Nave, O. (1994). New Nave’s Topical Bible. Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems.
Scripture is clear that God forgive the sins of a believer. For example, Ephesians 1:7 (ESV) teaches God’s forgiveness unto salvation:
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,
The same is true for John 3:16–18 (ESV):
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should
not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
God Doesn’t “Not Remember” Our Sins. Instead, He Forgives All Our Sins
Rev. H. P. McCracken ends a great article on this verse in the August 2019 issue of Tabletalk Magazine (link: https://tabletalkmagazine.com/article/2019/08/isaiah-4325/ ) with the true basis for how God can “blot out” and “not remember” our sins:
The rest of the Scriptures reveal how it is that God can have such a covenant relationship with sinful people, how He can “forget” their sins. It is not because of a memory lapse, nor is it a trite idiom. It is
because God sent His Son to bear all the sins of His people and to die in their place on the cross, erasing the guilt of His people’s sins and making them as if they were forgotten forever in our relationship with Him.
Bible Study Takeaways
This brief look at Isaiah 43:25 teaches that the Bible student must keep in mind that any interpretation cannot contradict God’s attributes. One critical resource that helps to better know God’s attributes is a systematic theology textbook. Systematic Theology (Zondervan) by Dr. Wayne Grudem is an excellent resource.
A second Bible study takeaway is the Bible student must implement the analogy of faith.
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