When we are God Beings, will we remember our own past sins and the sins of others, including the sins of our close friends and family members?
The Bible teaches that we will enter the Family of God and become God Beings at the time of the return of Jesus Christ, when we have God’s Holy Spirit within us at the time of our death or of our change. As God Beings, we will think and behave like God the Father and Jesus Christ. How then does God look at the sins of others?
First of all, let us quickly review the question whether we are even going to remember our close friends, family members or mates in the resurrection. We addressed this question in our Q&A about Isaiah 65:17 (“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.”).
Answering the question whether we will still retain memories of human beings of this time, including our relationships with family and friends, we said:
“It will depend on whether or not they are righteous or evil (compare Psalm 34:15-16). Simply stated, those who are in God’s Kingdom will know one-another, but those who rebel will cease to exist or be remembered.”
We do not believe in an ever-burning hell fire which will torture the wicked for all eternity, while those “saved in heaven” will continually hear their cries. At the same time, it would be difficult to imagine that we will constantly remember loved ones or close friends who turned away from God and committed the unpardonable sin. Generally speaking, we will put the memories of those out of our minds; it will be as if they had never existed (Obadiah 16). [However, in the case of King Saul who apparently committed the unpardonable sin, his deeds of rebellion and his consultation of a witch and his encounter with a demon, pretending to be Samuel, have been recorded in the Bible, for everyone to read.]
This leads us to the next question as to whether we will remember our own sins which we repented of, or the sins of others who received forgiveness from God because of their repentance.
We discussed aspects of this question in our Q&A on 1 Kings 15:5 (“David did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.”)
We said the following:
“The account of David’s transgressions ‘in the matter of Uriah the Hittite’ can be found in 2 Samuel, chapters 11 and 12. First, David committed adultery with Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba; then, he tried to cover up his sin in different ways; failing that, he had Uriah murdered in war, so that he could take Bathsheba to become his wife. We read that ‘the thing that David had done displeased [or better: ‘was evil in the sight of’] the LORD’ (2 Samuel 11:27)…
“David’s conduct ‘in the matter of Uriah’ constituted a great sin. This does not mean, however, that this was the only sin that David ever committed. The passage in 1 Kings 15:5, quoted above, must be read in context with all the other Scriptures on this subject. For instance, note the following statement in 1 Kings 14:8, ‘… yet you have not been as My servant David, who kept My commandments and who followed Me with all his heart, to do ONLY what was right in My eyes.’ Taken all by itself, this Scripture would say that David did not sin at all – not even in the ‘matter of Uriah.’…
“The truth is, of course, that David sinned in many different ways… The Bible makes it very clear that everyone sins – even after conversion – and that there is no human being [with the only exception of Jesus Christ, when He was here on earth] who does not sin (compare 1 Kings 8:46)…
“We are also told in Scripture that God forgives us our sins and even forgets about them, once we confess our sins to God (1 John 1:9). In that case, God cleanses us from all unrighteousness (same verse). He will remember our sins no more (compare Jeremiah 31:34).
“David had a loyal heart. When he sinned, he repented and asked God for forgiveness. He did not try to hide his sins, but he was truly heart-broken. He desired earnestly to be forgiven… When God forgave David, He removed his sins – not to be remembered anymore… That is why God could say, ‘David has kept My commandments. He followed Me with all his heart, to do ONLY what was right in My eyes.’ (Compare, again, 1 Kings 14:8.)
“We also understand, of course, that God forgave David his sins ‘in the matter of Uriah.’ Still, in the one passage, in 1 Kings 15:5, God brings this matter one more time to our attention. Not, because God had not forgiven David, but because this was a sin that belonged to a slightly different category. It was not the unpardonable sin, to be sure, since David will be in the Kingdom of God (compare Jeremiah 30:9; Hosea 3:5). However, it was not a sin that was committed ‘in ignorance’ – because of a temporary, passing weakness that had ‘snuck up’ on David. This was a planned, premeditated, carefully designed sin. David thought through very diligently how to cover up his sin with Bathseba, until he resorted to the murder of Uriah. God brings up the ‘matter with Uriah’ one more time, because He was terribly grieved that David would have acted in such a way – and He wanted to impress on the reader the awful consequences of that sin for David and his entire household.
“When we sin and subsequently confess our sin to God, God is faithful to forgive us… Upon forgiveness (compare Romans 11:27), God will remember our sins no more (compare Hebrews 8:12). This should show us that we must strive to do the same. When we forgive, we must also forget. David sinned in many different ways – as we all do – but he obtained complete forgiveness from God, as his heart was right. In God’s eyes, David kept God’s commandments; following God with all his heart, to do ONLY what was right in God’s eyes.”
What, exactly, is meant by the phrase that God will remember our sins no more?
Please realize that God saw to it that certain sins of David were recorded, for everyone to read. In addition to David’s sin in the matter of Uriah, some of his other sins were recorded as well, such as his fighting in war and numbering his army. Furthermore, sins of other righteous men and women were recorded: Moses’s sin of murder and his later outburst before Israel, which prevented him from entering the Promised Land; Aaron and Miriam’s murmuring against Moses; Abraham and Isaac’s lies; Abraham and Sarah’s adultery because of lack of faith; Jacob’s deceit towards his father Isaac; Rachel’s theft of her father’s idol; Peter’s sin of lying and denying Christ three times, and his hypocrisy towards Gentile Christians; and Paul’s persecution of Christians when he was still known as Saul. The list could go on and on. We also believe that Solomon came to repentance at the end of his life, but his prior terrible sins were included in the Bible.
How do we understand and explain this in light of the fact that God forgives and forgets sins once they are repented of? The sins of those were forgiven (all of those men and women listed above will be in the Kingdom of God as God Beings), but their prior sins were not erased from the written Word of God—the Bible—and we are told that they were recorded as an example for our benefit today (1 Corinthians 10:11), and that ALL Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).
In addition, we do not believe that Adam and Eve or Judas Iscariot have committed the unpardonable sin, since they never had God’s Holy Spirit, which means, that they will be given their opportunity to accept God’s Way of Life in the Second Resurrection; still, everyone knows and will know about [some of] their sins which they committed, as they are recorded in God’s Word. Jesus even said about Judas that it would have been better if he had not been born. We do not believe that these statements will ever be removed from the Bible. But Adam, Eve and Judas will come back to life, and will be offered true repentance, which they will hopefully accept. But again, their sins are recorded in the Bible, and the books of the Bible will be opened to the understanding of all who will be in the Great White Throne Judgment period (Revelation 20:12).
When we sin and do not repent, then our sins will stand against us. God will not forgive and forget them. The same is true for our friends and relatives. If they sin in this life, without repenting, God (and we as God Beings in the Kingdom) will not forgive and forget those sins prior to their repentance, but we will offer them repentance in the Great White Throne Judgment period so that their sins can be forgiven.
But what about sins which have been repented of? As we saw, generally, God (and we as God Beings) will forget those sins, by totally erasing them from our minds, but there are exceptions.
Clearly, one exception are the sins which are recorded in the Bible. Even though God has forgiven those upon repentance, He has not totally erased those from memory, but they were recorded for our benefit so that we can learn from the mistakes of others and do not make them ourselves. But in every case, God casts all repented sins behind His back and into the depths of the sea, so that when they are sought for, they shall not be found IN THE SENSE that God will never charge us with them. He does not retain them in His mind in the sense that He will not revisit what has passed.
When God says in Jeremiah 31:34 and in Isaiah 43:25 that He will “remember” their sins no more and that He will blot out their transgressions, He draws also a comparison between animal sacrifices in the Old Testament which had to be given continuously and which could never forgive sins, but were just a reminder or “remembrance” of sins (Hebrews 10:3), and Christ’s Sacrifice which brings about total and complete forgiveness and freedom from eternal death, so that God will “blot out” the sins and “remember” them no more (compare Acts 3:19). German Bibles translate Jeremiah 31:34 as, “I will not think of [or: about] their sins anymore.” The New Jerusalem Bible and the Revised English Bible say that God will never more “call” their sin “to mind.”
Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible adds this comment in regard to Isaiah 43:25: “God will not remember the sins of his people against them; having forgiven them, he will never punish them for them, which is meant by remembering them; see Jeremiah 14:10.”
The Jamieson Fausset and Brown commentary agrees, stating: “When God forgives, He forgets; that is, treats the sinner as if He had forgotten his sins.”
Under the New Covenant, God will “take away” our sins (Romans 11:27)—He will not hold them against us, if we repent of them. Jeremiah 50:20 tells us that “… The iniquity of Israel shall be sought, but there shall be none; And the sins of Judah, but they shall not be found; For I will pardon those whom I preserve.”
In God’s mind, forgiven sins have never been committed. The wall of separation between God and us, which was erected due to sin (Isaiah 59:1-2), is broken down when we repent, and access to God is again unhindered. In most cases, God will completely wipe out from His mind any memory of repented sins, but as we saw, in some cases, sins were recorded to teach us a lesson. But in all cases, no repented sin will ever be “remembered” so that man would be charged with it. As we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), we must also strive to forgive and forget sins of others who repent… and this includes our own sins of which we repent and for which we have received forgiveness. But even if we may not be able to achieve in this life total lack of memory regarding past sins, we must always truly forgive others who repent, without ever holding grudges or bringing charges against them.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link