Remember No More- Hebrews 10:17
As we continue in our examination of Hebrews 10, we now come upon a verse which at first glance may seem very confusing, primarily due to the use of the English word “remember” here. The verse is translated (in NIV) as follows: “Then He adds: Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more”. Does this mean that the omnipotent, omniscient God is somehow able to “forget” something? Do our sins as Christians slip His mind somehow? Of course not, and it may take a look at what is being cited here in its original form in order to determine just what the writer has in mind here. We begin by noting that the writer of this Epistle, when citing the Old Testament, uses the Septuagint version, which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament, rather than using the original Masoretic (Hebrew) version. The verse cited here is Jeremiah 31:34, and it reads in the Masoretic as : “For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sins I will call to mind no more”. The Hebrew words translated here as iniquity and sins, are, awon and chattah, respectively. The term awon refers to that which is “crooked”, and is translated as iniquity because its primary reference is to our nature rathe than to our activities. God in Christ forgives our crookedness, He forgives not just what we do, but what we are, for , as we learn in Romans 5:12-21, we are sinners by nature, and it is our nature which condemns us. It is, then, the forgiveness of our old sinful nature which makes the way for God to make us a new creation in Christ (2 Cor 5:17), with a new “holy” nature, as we have seen in verses 10-14 of Hebrews 10. The term chattah, literally means to “miss the mark”, to miss the bullseye of the target, and is translated as “sins” in order to capture the concept of our activities rather than our nature. It is at this point which our word remember comes into play. The Hebrew word here is zakar, which basically refers to the keeping of records, so God not remembering here refers to His not “keeping a record of” our sins. This touches upon a common image and reference in the Old Testament culture, the image of God dwelling up in the sky, writing all of our “sins” in a big book or books. These “books” are referred to in the passage describing the final judgement of the lost in Revelation 20:12, in which the “dead (lost) were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books”. Those who have been born again have had their names recorded in the Lamb’s book of life, and will not be subject to final judgment. This is what is meant by God not keeping a record of the believer’s sins, they are not kept track of for judgment in a big book, but are all covered by the blood of Christ and will never result in our final judgment. So what we find here in this verse, is another affrirmation of the security of the believer. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1), because “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more”.