Forgive and Forget

Are forgive and forget the same thing? Can we forgive without forgetting? Can we forget without forgiving?

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, one of the lines was: Mat 6:12 ‘And forgive us our debts [fig., sins], in the same way as _we _ also forgive our debtors [fig., the ones having sinned against us].

Let’s define a few of these words first. Forgive = to send forth, in various applications: – cry, forgive, forsake, lay aside, leave, let (alone, be, go, have), omit, put (send) away, remit, suffer, yield up.  Debts = something owed, that is, (figuratively) a due.; morally a fault: – debt

He goes on to say in Mat 6:14-15 “For, if you* forgive the people their transgressions, your Father, the [One] in the heavens, will also forgive you,*  (15) but if you* do not forgive the people their transgressions, neither will your* Father forgive your* transgressions.

Transgressions = a side slip (lapse or deviation), that is, (unintentional) error or (wilful) transgression: – fall, fault, offence, sin, trespass

God tell us that all sins except blasphemy against the Spirit will be forgiven in Mat 12:31 “For this reason I say to you*, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven to the people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven to the people.

Jesus told Peter in Mat 18:21-22 Then Peter having approached Him, said, “Lord, how often will my brother [or sister] sin against me, and I will forgive him, up to seven times?”  (22) Jesus says to him, “I do not say to you up to seven times, _but_ up to seventy times seven!

Whether you believe this to mean 77, 490, or an unlimited amount of times, we would have to agree that this means a whole lot.

Jesus also told us in  Mar 11:24-26 For this reason I say to you*, all [things], as many as while praying you* shall be asking [for], be believing [or, be having faith] that you* are receiving, and it will be [granted] to you*.  (25) “And whenever you* stand praying, be forgiving, if you* are holding anything against anyone, so that also your* Father, the [One] in the heavens, shall forgive you* of your* transgressions.  (26) “But if you* do not forgive, neither will your* Father, the [One] in the heavens, forgive your* transgressions.”

In 1Jn 1:9 it says “If we are confessing our sins, He is faithful [or, trustworthy] and righteous that He shall forgive us our sins and cleanse [or, purge] us from all unrighteousness.”

So by now, we should know that we are to forgive, if we don’t, we won’t be forgiven ourselves. I would go as far as to say that we should forgive even if the person doesn’t come and ask for forgiveness. But is forgiving the same as forgetting?

Paul writes in Hebrews 10:17 a reference to a scripture originally found in Jeremiah 31:33-34 where the Lord said, “And I shall by no means remember their sins and their lawless deeds any longer.”

The only form of the word forget that I could find was in Jas 1:24and its meaning is “to lose out of mind; by implication to neglect.”

But all through revelations God tells the churches to repent of their sins or he will remove their lamp stands (2:5); wage war against them (2:16) and he speaks of other’s who did not repent. Repent means to turn back, to reconsider, to think differently afterward.

Jesus told the disciples in Luke 17:3 “Be watching yourselves! Now if your brother sins against you rebuke him, and if he repents forgive him.

Paul writes in 2Ti 4:2 Preach the word! Be ready in season [and] out of season [fig., whether the time is favorable or not], convict, rebuke, [and] encourage, with all patience and teaching.

And God said in Rev 3:19 ‘As many as I affectionately love, I rebuke and discipline. Therefore, be zealous and repent!

So in all of these they require repentance. Yet, in Mark 11 we are told when we are praying we need to be forgiving, whether they have asked for it or not.

I didn’t find any scriptural reference that says that we should or should not forget. But based on these scriptures, I would have to say that the forgiving is not for the one needing forgiveness, but for the one holding the grudge. If we do not forgive, we will not be forgiven. The Bible lists unforgiveness among many ugly things in 2 Timothy 3:2-5 and Romans 1:28-32. So unforgiveness isn’t good for the person holding it.  Forgiveness means to lay aside what is owed to us, that could even mean an apology.

Yet God doesn’t forget our sins unless we are washed in the blood of Jesus and repent. Repent means to change, to realize what we’ve done is wrong and stop doing it. We may not always be successful, but I think it is about what is in our hearts, whether we truly believe what we did was wrong or not. That is where the rebuking comes in. This is not the same as judging (we can look at that later but judge means decide (mentally or judicially); by implication to try, condemn, punish: – avenge, conclude, condemn, damn, decree, determine, esteem, judge, go to (sue at the) law, ordain, call in question, sentence to, think.). Even though we forgive someone, when we let someone know what they have done wrong, they have a choice to make. That choice would make the difference as to whether we would forget, or not. If that person chooses to continue to walk in that sin, we can’t just forget or ignore that choice. Just as God does not forget our sins if we make that choice.

You know, there are a couple of things that I notice when talking about forgiveness. First, the person wanting it is usually the one talking the most about it. Have you ever noticed that? How many times have you heard someone say, “You have to forgive me, the Bible says so.” Or, “forgive and forget, the Bible says to.” Which brings me to my second thought. If we are truly followers of Christ, how often should we need forgiveness from others? Really. I mean, shouldn’t we be putting others before our selves anyway. I am sure that we will need forgiveness from time to time because we tend to open our mouths before we think, but again, IF we are truly followers of Christ, when we are rebuked, shouldn’t we be quick to apologize for our unthoughtfulness, hurtfulness, or whatever we have done to offend someone? Should a brother or sister in Christ have to forgive us 77 times? I hope not, especially for the same offense.

So, bottom line, I’m not sure I can give a solid conclusion in regards to ringing out the false and ringing in the true in regards to the questions.

Are forgive and forget the same thing? I don’t think that forgiving and forgetting are the same things. Forgive means to lay aside what is owed; forget means to lose out of mind. Maybe over time if the offense doesn’t happen again we would be able to forget, but we definitely should forgive.

Can we forgive without forgetting? I think that if God forgets only after repentance that we could forgive without forgetting. Because we are told that we have to forgive for our own good. And the Bible doesn’t specifically talk about forgetting unless there is repentance. It may take longer to forget than to forgive, and the Bible is clear on us forgiving one another.

Can we forget without forgiving?” I don’t think we can because I don’t think our hearts would let us. Unless we truly forgive, we will hold an ugliness inside of us that can spread.

Ring out the old, Ring in the new
Ring out the false, Ring in the true
Ring out sorrow, pain and care
Ring in happiness everywhere.

A friend of mine also blogged on the subject of Forgiving, check it out:


2 thoughts on “Forgive and Forget

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