MERCIFUL TO THEIR INIQUITIES, AND
REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE: hoti hileos esomai (1SFMI) tais adikiais auton kai ton hamartion auton ou me
mnestho (1SAPS) eti: (Hebrews 10:16,17; Psalms 25:7; 65:3;
Isaiah 43:25; 44:22; Jeremiah 33:8; 50:20; Micah 7:19; Acts 13:38,39; Romans
11:27; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; 1John 1:7-9; 2:1,2; Revelation 1:5)
For an excellent review of Hebrews 8:1-13 listen to Dr
S Lewis Johnson (former
professor of Systematic Theology at Dallas Theological Seminary)
Right Click here - download
and listen on your computer or Ipod - ~61 minutes but well worth the
time - Hint: Listen
in a setting where you can take a few notes.
William MacDonald reminds us
the law (Old Covenant) could not
deal effectively with sins. It provided for the atonement of sins but
not for their removal. (The Hebrew word for atonement comes
from the verb meaning cover.) The sacrifices prescribed in the law
made a man ceremonially clean, that is, they qualified him to engage
in the religious life of the nation. But this ritual cleansing was
external; it did not touch a man’s inward life. It did not provide
moral cleansing or give him a clear conscience.
John MacArthur adds...
Here is the capstone of the New
Covenant. Here is what men need more than anything else—and what the
Old Covenant pictured but could not give. The promise of the Old
Testament is finally fulfilled! Under the Old Covenant, sins could
never really be forgotten, because they were never really forgiven.
They were only covered, foreshadowing and anticipating true
forgiveness in Jesus Christ. But for those who belong to His dear
Son—whether they believed under the Old Covenant or under the New—God
forgets every sin.
I will - Seven times in 3
verses. Clearly a key phrase. Every time God says "I will" it's like
another degree of assurance regarding the trustworthy nature of the
Andrew Murray offers an
OF the blessings of the new
covenant, the one which is here ‘mentioned last is in reality the
first. For I will be merciful—this is what precedes, and is the ground
of the renewal of the heart and the fellowship with God. Pardon is the
door; holiness of heart and life the pathway; the presence of God the
blessedness of the Christian life. The first leads to the second, the
first and second to the third. To live in God’s presence and
fellowship two things must be clear: the thought of sin must be put
away out of God’s heart, and the love of sin out of our heart. These
two blessings are together secured in the new covenant. First, the
forgiveness of sins so complete, that He remembers them no more for
ever; they never more enter into God’s heart. And, second, the renewal
of our heart and will so complete, that the law of God is written
there by the Holy Spirit, so that the will of God is our will.
The three blessings—the pardon of
sin, purity of heart, and the presence of God—are so joined, that as
our views and our acceptance of one is feeble, our hold on the others
will suffer. In Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant they are
offered and secured to us in their fulness, in the power of an endless
life. But our experience of this depends upon our knowledge, our
faith, our surrender. And it is because our understanding and
acceptance and experience of the two first blessings is so defective
that our fellowship with God, our entrance into the holy presence, and
our abiding there, is still so much in Old Testament failure—But they
continued not. Let us try and realise this. (Hebrews 8 Commentary (Holiest
(hileos - related in stem and meaning to
hilaros = glad,
merry, cheerful) means propitious (Webster 1828 = "Be Disposed to
gracious or merciful; ready to forgive sins and bestow blessings;
favorable"), benevolent, forgiving or favorably disposed to another. It
pertains to the demonstration of mercy or compassion. "Appeased,
merciful, as of gods; cheerful, propitious, favorable, merciful, as of
Hileos is the root of
hilaskomai in Luke 18:13
“But the tax-gatherer, standing
some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven,
but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful (be
favorable) to me, the sinner!’
MacArthur: He had no hope
but the mercy of God. This is the point to which the law aims to bring
every sinner (cf. Ro 3:19, 20; 7:13; Gal 3:22–24).
The only other NT use of hileos is...
Mt 16:22 And Peter took Him aside
and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it (Young's
Literal = "Be kind to"), Lord! This shall never happen to You.”
expanded sense in this statement would be, "God save you from those
NET Note: "Merciful to you."
A highly elliptical expression: "May God be merciful to you in sparing
you from having to undergo [some experience]". A contemporary English
equivalent is "God forbid!"
BDAG: The idea is "may God
be gracious to you, Lord, i.e. may God in mercy spare you this, God
BDAG says hileos
being favorably disposed, with
implication of overcoming obstacles that are unfavorable to a
relationship, gracious, merciful, in the wider lit. mostly—in our lit.
and in LXX always—of God.
A predicate of persons, hileos
means “happy,” “friendly,” “gracious.” It is used especially of rulers
and deities. In the LXX it is a predicate of God alone, e.g., in
phrases for “to forgive,” “to have pity.”
W E Vine
Hileōs means propitious; not that
God is ever to be conciliated, but that in grace and on a basis of
righteousness, consistent with His attitude toward sin and with His
essential holiness, and through the expiatory sacrifice of His Son, He
delivers the sinner from his deserved doom and, in free, sovereign
grace, justifies him.
NIDNTT in classic Greek
is chiefly used of rulers or gods;
in connection with gods the phrase hileo poiein, to make gracious, is
found (Plato, Laws 10, 910a).
Hileos - 25x in the
Septuagint (often with the sense " ("far be it from you, Lord" as in
1Kings 21:3; 1Chr 11:19) -
Ge 43:23 (LXE = And he said to them, God deal
mercifully with you); Ex 32:12 (LXE = be merciful to
the sin of thy people); Num 14:19-20; Deut 21:8 (LXE = Be merciful to
thy people Israel); 2Sa 20:20; 23:17 (LXE Lord, forbid that I
should do this); 1Kgs 8:30 (LXE = "and be gracious"), 1Ki 8:34, 36,
39, 50 (LXE be merciful to their unrighteousness); 1Chr 11:19;
2Chr 6:21, 25, 27, 39; 7:14; Isa 54:10; Jer 5:1, 7; 31:34; 36:3;
50:20; Amos 7:2
Jeremiah 31:34 "They will not teach
again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know
the LORD,' for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the
greatest of them," declares the LORD, "for I will forgive (Hebrew =
salach = forgive, pardon; Lxx = Hileos = be propitious toward) their
iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."
Spurgeon writes that...
The covenant is the sure foundation
of mercy, and when the whole fabric of outward grace manifested in the
saints lies in ruins this is the fundamental basis of love which is
never moved, and upon it the Lord proceeds to build again a new
structure of grace. Covenant mercy is sure as the throne of God.
I will be merciful
to their iniquities...I will remember their sins no more - These
promises by God in essence are teaching that the New Covenant brings
complete forgiveness of our sins, something the Old Covenant could never do
as the writer explained in Hebrews 10...
For the Law, since it has only a
shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can
never by the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer
continually, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they
not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once
been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? 3 But
in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. 4 For it
is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats (the only
provision available in the Old Covenant) to take away sins
(procure the forgiveness of sins). (See notes
Comment: The new and better
covenant would not have been needed if the first covenant had been
(adikia from a = without + dike = right, expected
behavior according to an external standard, in this case God's) is
literally "unrightness" or the condition of not being right according
to the standard of God's holy demands.
Will I remember no more. This is
evidently spoken after the manner of men, and in accordance with human
apprehension. It cannot mean literally that God forgets that men are
sinners, but it means that he treats them as if this were forgotten.
Their sins are not charged upon them, and they are no more punished
than if they had passed entirely out of the recollection. God treats
them with just as much kindness, and regards them with as sincere
affection, as if their sins ceased wholly to be remembered, or which
is the same thing, as if they had never sinned.
Wiersbe adds that...
There is no forgiveness under the
Law because the Law was not given for that purpose. “Therefore by the
deeds of the Law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight; for
by the Law is knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20). The Law could not promise
forgiveness to Israel, let alone to all mankind. It is only through
the sacrifice of Jesus Christ that forgiveness is possible to all who
will call on Him. The Old Testament sacrifices brought a remembrance
of sins, not a remission of sins (Heb. 10:1–3, 18)....
What does it mean that God
remembers our sins and iniquities no more? (Heb. 8:12) This
important statement is quoted again in Hebrews 10:16–17. Does it mean
that our all-knowing God can actually forget what we have done? If God
forgot anything, He would cease to be God! The phrase “remember no
more” means “hold against us no more.” God recalls what we have
done, but He does not hold it against us. He deals with us on
the basis of grace and mercy, not law and merit. Once sin has been
forgiven, it is never brought before us again. The matter is settled
As a pastor in counseling ministry
I have often heard people say, “Well, I can forgive—but I cannot
forget!” “Of course you can’t forget,” I usually reply. “The
more you try to put this thing out of your mind, the more you will
remember it. But that isn’t what it means to forget.” Then I go on
to explain that “to forget” means “not to hold it against the person
who has wronged us.” We may remember what others have done, but we
treat them as though they never did it. How is this possible? It is
possible because of the cross, for there God treated His Son as though
He had done it! Our experience of forgiveness from God makes it
possible for us to forgive others.
W: Bible Exposition Commentary - New Testament. 1989. Victor)
(mnaomai from mimnesko = to recall to mind, to remind)
means to be mindful of. God will not recall their sins to mind!
Note that "remember...no more"
does not mean the omniscient God does not have a memory of our past
sins. Omniscient means that God knows all things actual and
possible and knows them in one simple and eternal act. God's attribute
of eternal means that He has no beginning, end or succession of
moments in His being and that He sees all time equally vividly, and
yet also sees events in time and acts in time (Modified from Grudem's
Systematic Theology). If you are believer, then you can be
confident and at peace over the fact that God has forgiven (sent
away, remitted the debt) all your sin, past, present and future
(placing them on our Sin Bearer, the Lamb, Christ Jesus - Isa 53:6,
1Pe 2:24, 2Cor 5:21, Jn 1:29).
Some individuals say that they
cannot forgive themselves. The question is this - is this genre of
forgiveness mentioned in Scripture? You can search the Bible from
Genesis to Revelation and you will never find a Scripture that says we
are to forgive ourselves. This is simply not a Biblical teaching. Yes,
the Bible speaks of VERTICAL (DIVINE) FORGIVENESS and HORIZONTAL
(HUMAN) FORGIVENESS but there is not one word about a person forgiving
themselves. It is simply not taught in Scripture!
DIVINE and HUMAN
DIVINE FORGIVENESS is predicated or
made possible by the execution of the penalty of death and the
shedding of blood (Heb 9:22, Lev 17:11, cp Ro 6:23). In the OT the
penalty was death of a sacrificial animal. All of the OT ceremonies
and sacrifices pointed to Christ but could not actually take away the
sin (Heb 10:4). The sins which believers committed in the OT were
"passed over" (Ro 3:25, cp Heb 9:15) but ultimately were paid for in
full by Christ's death on the Cross ("It is finished" = "Paid in
full!" = Jn 19:30). Jesus' death and shed blood inaugurated the "New
Covenant in His blood" which made divine forgiveness possible (Mt
Human forgiveness means the
remission of a penalty deserved. As believers we are called to confess
our sins and receive God's forgiveness of our sins (1Jn 1:9). When
someone sins against us (Let's say they gossip or speak falsely about
us and we find out about it), we are called to forgive them (Col 3:13,
Eph 4:32). But even then we recognize that their sin is primarily
against God (Ps 51:4-note,
cp Ge 39:9, 2Sa 12:13-note)
and only He can forgive their sin against Himself. We are never
expected to forgive the sins of others toward God because we have no
power to do so (Read Mark 2:5-12, cp Lk 5:22-26, Mt 9:1-8), but we are
expected to forgive others for the sins done to us. Jesus instructed
us to pray for this forgiveness asking God to "Forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors" (Mt 6:12-note,
When we forgive someone who has wronged us (by surrendering to
the enabling power of the Spirit), we are giving up our right to any
feeling of animosity we may have had against them and we re-establish
a heart attitude of friendliness and affection (as far as that is
possible on our part). We do not hold the wrong done to us against the
person anymore. Why are we charged to forgive? We forgive others
because we have been forgiven far greater offenses by God. Read- Eph
4:32 (note the phrase "just as God in Christ has forgiven you"-
and Col 3:13 (note the phrase "just as the Lord forgave you, so
also should you."-
So yes we are to forgive others but
we are not ever told to forgive ourselves. When someone says “I
just can’t forgive myself”, the problem is often that they do not have
a true understanding of the completeness of God's forgiveness of their
sin. What they are saying in essence is they cannot forgive themselves
because they really doubt that God has truly forgiven them! If
you struggle with guilt over a past sin and wonder if God still holds
you guilty or condemns you, then ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten your
heart and enable you to meditate on Ro 8:1-2-note.
Then take some time to meditate on the pictures of the completeness of
divine forgiveness in the following passages...
As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our
transgressions from us.
Comment: Ask yourself "How
far is east from west?" Had the verse stated "as far as north is from
the south" we would have been able to "measure" God's forgiveness by
some "finite measurement." However, there is no east or west pole, so
God is clearly teaching us that His forgiveness has no limits. It is
"perfect" and complete forgiveness, whether we believe it or whether
we feel like it. In both cases, it is absolutely, eternally true!
sermon - A Sense of Pardoned Guilt))
“I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own
sake; And I will not remember your sins.
sermon - God's Non-Remembrance of Sin)
“Lo, for my own welfare I had great bitterness; It is Thou who hast
kept my soul from the pit of nothingness, For Thou hast cast all my
sins behind Thy back.
(Spurgeon's sermon - Sin Subdued)
Who is a God like Thee, who pardons iniquity And passes over the
rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain
His anger forever, Because He delights in unchanging love. 19 He will
again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot.
Yes, Thou wilt cast all their sins Into the depths of the sea.
counselor Jay Adams says that the...
concepts (self esteem and self
forgiveness), as Packer has seen, stand or fall together; they are of
a piece. The problem supposedly is that men look down on themselves.
But Jesus told us to love our neighbors as ourselves, implying that we
already do pretty well in that regard and need instead to start
working on loving our neighbor with some of the same devotion and
concern that we already show ourselves (Lev 19:18, Mt 19:19, 22:39, Mk
12:31, Lk 10:27, Ro 13:9, Gal 5:14, James 2:8). There is never, in all
of the Word of God, a statement to the effect that men have a low
self-image, that they must learn to love themselves, or
that they must learn to forgive themselves. On the contrary, it
is assumed that we do this without the slightest difficulty. So the
Bible aims all its commands at turning our concern from self to God
It is not simply a matter of the
Bible not using the jargon of the self-image teachers, as Packer
thinks, but rather, a matter of the entire Bible knowing nothing of
self-love, self-forgiveness concepts, and a doctrine of man that
depicts him thinking so lowly of himself. It is not enough
to assert that the Scriptures teach that man has a low self-image
problem and, therefore, command him to think more highly of himself
and learn to forgive himself. If we are told that not to do so is sin,
biblical warrant for that fact must be
clearly demonstrated. Otherwise, we have theologians, psychologists,
and other writers placing new burdens on men’s backs that they need
“But what is the problem then?
Surely there are people who will tell you that they are having a hard
time forgiving themselves. Haven’t you ever had counselees who have
said as much?”
Certainly, but their speech was
filled with the lingo of the psychologists and others who propagate
such things. I tell them, “You will never solve your problem by
misunderstanding it as a problem of self-forgiveness.”
“What do you tell them to do, then?”
Well, something like this. Suppose
someone, through carelessness, runs over a child in his automobile and
comes in saying, “Ill never be able to forgive myself for what I did.”
Or suppose a woman confesses the abortions she has had were murder and
says much the same. I make it clear to them that the problem is not
self-forgiveness. Their expressed agony stems from the very fact that,
in the worst way, they want to forgive themselves. They want to put it
behind them, they want to bury it once and for all. They want the
burden of guilt lifted from their shoulders. If they had such low
self-esteem as some think, they would instead be saying such things
as, “Well, you’d expect someone like the to do that, wouldn’t you?”
Or, “I guess this is just true to form for a lout like me.” But they
don’t. They say, “I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to forgive myself
for what I’ve done,” indicating they are certainly anxious to do so.
Lack of ability to forgive self is not the problem.
The problem is that people who talk
this way recognize something more needs to be done. Forgiveness is
just the beginning; it clears away the guilt. They also recognize that
they are still the same persons who did the wrong—that though they are
forgiven, they have not changed. Without being able to articulate it,
and using instead the jargon they have heard all around them, they are
crying out for the change that will assure them they will never do
anything like it again. When, as a counselor, I help them to deal with
the problems in their lives that led to the wrong, in such a way that
they have adopted a more biblical lifestyle, I then ask, “Are you
still having trouble forgiving yourself?” Invariably, they say no.
(Jay Adam's -
From Forgiven to Forgiving Learning to Forgive One Another God's Way
D L Moody
spoke of self forgiveness
I want to ask you this question: If
sin needs forgiveness--and all sin is against God--how can you work
out your own forgiveness? If I stole $100 from a friend, I could not
forgive myself, could I? No act of mine would bring about forgiveness,
unless my friend forgave me. And so, if I want forgiveness of sin, it
must be the work of God.
conveyed the idea of missing the mark as when hunting with a bow and
arrow and then came to mean missing or falling short of any goal,
standard, or purpose. In Scripture sin often describes our thoughts,
words and deeds that miss the ultimate purpose God has for each
individual, these thoughts, words and deeds falling short of God’s
perfect standard of holiness.
WHAT A GREAT GREEK
No more (ou
is a double negative, which could be paraphrased "Absolutely no, never will
I remember". Part of our difficulty with accepting the completeness of God's
forgiveness and His promise to remember our sins no more" is because we
don't really understand the meaning of remember. English dictionaries
emphasize that remember means to bring to mind, to give attention to. When
you remember something, you are retrieving that information from your stored
knowledge (memory). To not remember is to not retrieve the stored data from
your memory. Not remembering does not mean that the data has been lost or
deleted. Nor does it mean that it is irretrievable… it is retrievable
but not retrieved. That is the common use of remember. … and is so
used in many Biblical references. When we believed in Jesus, our sins were
forgiven…and God remembers them no more. He no longer gives attention to our
sins…no longer considers them…no longer brings them to mind. After we became
His children, He disregarded our sins because they had already been paid for
by Jesus on the cross. They were, and are, no longer of any consequence. The
knowledge of our forgiven sins has not been deleted from His memory. There
is just no reason for Him to retrieve that information. It is wonderful that
our sins have been removed from us as far as the east is from the west … and
wonderful that God intentionally considers them no more. He knows absolutely
everything about us. He has archived the data about our sins … but does not
retrieve it. God is omniscient. The data about our sins is in His memory …
but when He considers us, it is as if it had been deleted.
To summarize, the better
promises of this better covenant, the New Covenant, are
centered in the forgiveness of sins and the divine enablement (God's
laws are now within = when we by grace through faith enter the New
Covenant, God's Spirit gives us a "new inner control center").
Kent Hughes commenting on
"superior forgiveness" of the New Covenant observes that...
This is precisely what the Old
Covenant could not do. Under the Old Covenant, sins were never
completely forgiven because they were never truly forgotten. They were
covered, awaiting and pointing to the true forgiveness through
Christ’s death. (Hebrews: an anchor for the soul: Preaching the
><> ><> ><>
Grip Of Guilt: Can you think of anything too hard for God to do?
Put yourself in the shoes of a fellow Christian who has committed a
sin so awful that the person simply cannot imagine that God would
forgive it. Think about what he or she considers to be impossible
In an article on forgiveness, Pastor Charles Stanley wrote about
talking to a teenager who was having a hard time believing that God
could forgive her sexual sins. She told him she was a Christian and
had asked Jesus many times to forgive her. Even though she knew the
Bible says God had forgiven her, she still felt dirty in her heart.
This teenager thought she had found something that was too hard for
God to do—forgive her.
When we tell
ourselves that our sin is so bad God won’t forgive us,
we are doubting His power. (Ed: and His promise)
We are robbing
ourselves of the great gifts of a clear conscience and fellowship with
God (1John 1:5-10).
Does guilt for sin have
its icy hands around your heart? Is it strangling your joy and making
you forget that God’s forgiveness is not based on what you do but on
what Christ has done?
Ask for His forgiveness. Then thank Him for it, and moment by moment
remind yourself of the wonder of God’s grace. — by Dave Branon
Thinking It Over: If you're struggling with accepting God's
forgiveness for something you've done, meditate on these verses: Psalm
32; Ps 51; Ephesians 1:3-8; Colossians 1:13-14.
it's time for us to forget.
We can forget, but that does not mean we can never remember. In
this context the idea is that we consciously make a choice (enabled by
the Holy Spirit) to cease remembering the sin and the guilt we felt
when we were not forgiven by God.
><> ><> ><>
God Forget? God longs to
forgive sinners! But in the minds of many people, this thought seems
too good to be true. Countless sermons have been preached to convince
guilt-ridden individuals that it is true. Many of these sermons
emphasize the idea that God not only forgives the sinner, but He also
forgets the sin. I've often said it myself, never doubting its
soundness. Then one Sunday I heard a sermon that revolutionized my
thinking. The speaker caught my attention when he said, "The idea that
God forgets my sins isn't very reassuring to me. After all, what if He
suddenly remembered? In any case, only imperfection can forget, and
God is perfect."
As I was
questioning the biblical basis for such statements, the pastor read
"Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."
Then he said,
"God doesn't say He'll forget our sins--He says He'll remember them no
more! His promise not to remember them ever again is stronger than
saying He'll forget them. Now that reassures me!"
Do you feel that you are too bad
to be forgiven? Remember, God promises to forgive and never bring up
your sin against you. Confess it to Him now. --J E Yoder (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)