“Forgive and forget” is the good-intentioned, but often impossible advice given in overcoming the hurt and conflict that often results from the sin and selfishness of mankind. Though forgetfulness will greatly help in moving forward after a serious offence, it is by no means something that can be forced, and in the case of an offence with serious long-term consequences, forgetfulness is practically impossible. That is when “forgive and forget” becomes discouraging and merely adds a sense of guilt (falsely so) to the hurt.

We as Christians know better than merely to hope for forgetfulness after forgiveness. We have a higher standard for forgiveness, for we are required to forgive one another as God forgave us (Col 3:13; Eph 4:32). Does God “forgive and forget”? Most certainly not! Does that mean that God forgives, but keeps it active in His memory at all times? Surprisingly, also most certainly not! The all-knowing God “chooses not to remember”—that is His own preferred term for explaining what, after forgiveness, to do with the unforgettable knowledge of sin done against Him.

I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.

Isaiah 43:25

I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Jeremiah 31:34

For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.

Hebrews 8:12

The all-knowing God “chooses not to remember” the sins we have done against Him. That is our standard. Do not attempt in some passive way to forgive and forget, instead, actively put the thought of the forgiven sin out of your active memory so as no longer to dwell on it. Even if a sin, though forgiven, has lingering consequences that need to be borne together, the “forgive and do not remember” standard will enable joyful and enduring reconciliation. Let us not settle for the world’s attempts at Christian activities like forgiveness, but let us raise the standard for all to see exactly to what extent the Lord has gone to forgive us our great sins against Him.