While I was listening to the local Christian radio station on the way home, Jon Courson touched on Hebrews 8:12:

For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more. (NIV)

Courson said, "Man cannot do this. We have the capacity to forgive, but not to forget. Only God can actually erase His own memory, and truly not remember your sins."

Now I'm a Biblical literalist, but this makes no sense to me. Even Biblical literalists believe that the authors of Scripture used figures of speech, such as hyperbole, and I'd always assumed that this was one such example. To take this literally makes no sense to me alongside the doctrine of God's omniscience.

CARM agrees with my view, too. So does every preacher I've heard up until today. They all teach that it means He will not hold our forgiven sins against us. His judgement will be as if He doesn't remember them.

But if a nationally syndicated preacher can make this claim, it leaves me to wonder if his take on this is common.

My question isn't whether or not this is hyperbole or if God can really wipe His own memories.

What I'm interested in knowing is whether or not this is a common view/teaching, or supported by established traditions or denominations.

  • 2
    I haven't heard anyone of any significance make this claim but have heard it from a few places and always written it off as a bit of folk religion getting mixed up with sound doctrine. It would be interesting to know if this seriously is sanctioned teaching anywhere.
    – Caleb
    Commented Jun 13, 2013 at 23:20

2 Answers 2


The best explanation of this I have ever heard is by Jay Adams in his book on forgiveness. God does not change, and His memory does not change. Instead, Adams argues that God is not-remembering, instead of forgetting. That is, God is promising not to bring these sins against you ever again.

Adams goes on to say that forgiveness in general is a three-fold promise. When you forgive someone, you are making three promises:

  1. You will not bring the offence up again to the person who offended you.
  2. You will not bring the offence up again to anyone else.
  3. You will not bring the offence up again to yourself.

I have found this definition of forgiveness to be extremely helpful.

I do not think the majority of Bible-believing, gospel-preaching denominations believe that God forgets anything. God is omniscient, and will always be omniscient. Now your Open Theists might believe that God can forget things, or that He doesn't know everything; and some of your mainline denominations that have departed from Scriptural teaching might also believe this.

  • 3
    Thank you, I appreciate that, and I really wish I could vote it up, but this is an answer I said I was specifically not looking for. I already subscribe to this view myself. Check the last two sentences in my question. Again, I wish I could vote this up, because I agree 100%, but it doesn't answer the question I asked. Commented Jun 14, 2013 at 3:28
  • Ah, I see. My apologies. I'll edit my answer. Commented Jun 14, 2013 at 13:13

Heb 8:12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

Mic 7:19 He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

Heb 10:17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

Rev 12:10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

While many denominations have ideals like omniscience we preclude the ability of God to forget something not all do. In Word of Faith circles and many other evangelical denominations we call God forgetting things the sea of forgetfulness and many of us literally believe that God cannot remember and has forgotten. Remembering bad things and making accusations based on those negative things is a work of the devil and not something which God takes part in.

  • Psalm 10:11 (ESV): [The wicked] says in his heart, “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”
    – NeRoboto
    Commented Oct 22, 2022 at 22:08

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