I often struggle with those verses in the Bible that teach us that God not only forgives but he also forgets. Jeremiah 31:4 says “For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Hebrews 10:17 says, “And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Many other examples could be given, but although it’s clear that God forgives and forget it’s just as clear to me that I don’t! Max Lucado writes, “No, he doesn’t remember. But I do, you do. You still remember. You’re like me. You still remember what you did… In the cellar of your heart lurk the ghosts of yesterday’s sins. Sins you’ve confessed; errors of which you’ve repented; damage you’ve done your best to repair. And … the ghosts still linger. Though you’ve locked the basement door, they still haunt you. They float to meet you, spooking your soul and robbing your joy.”

One theologian did a study of the Hebrew and Greek words for forgiveness in the Bible. He discovered that the concept of forgiveness is never, no not once, referenced in respect to forgiving ourselves. In the Bible forgiveness has only two directions, both of which extend from us not TO us. We receive forgiveness from God, vertically, and we receive forgiveness from others, horizontally. This theologian writes, “Self-forgiveness is tied back to the self-love movement. Its proponents justify loving oneself from the often quoted passage about loving a neighbor ‘as yourself’ (Lev 19:34). They contend that, if a man does not love himself properly, then he cannot really love his neighbor. Self-love advocates interpret the ‘as’ in the second greatest commandment to mean ‘as you should.’ However, the context of Scripture interprets ‘as’ to mean ‘as you do.’ In other words, we should love our neighbors as we already do love ourselves. The Apostle Paul wrote, ‘So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it ….’ (Ephesians 5:28–29). This passage teaches that people naturally look after themselves.” I’ve always struggled with the “self-love” movement because of 2 Timothy 3:2. In the end times there will be a strong movement away from God and His word and those that are part of this movement, according to Paul, will be “lovers of self…” along with other ungodly traits.

Some may argue that there are people who do not love themselves and do themselves harm. But truly those with such tendencies are doing what they do because they become too “self-centered” rather than God centered or other centered. My theologian continues his case: “In either case, the focus is on self. That is the problem with all this ‘self’ terminology. There are self-forgiveness, self-love, self-hate, self-esteem, self-image, self-worth, self-awareness, self-ad infinitum. This self-centered therapy may sound caring, but it is only a Band-Aid that will never cure a deeper spiritual problem.” Jesus teaches us to deny our “self” and focus our attention on God and on others. The only truly biblical focus is both upward and outward. It is in this context that we obey the Greatest Commandment – Love God, and Love others above all else. I believe this will satisfy God, others and ourselves. God said that He has forgiveness us. Only the enemy of us all wants us to feel unforgiven. He is still whispering in our ears, “Yea, hath God said….?”