Does Hebrews 10:17 mean the omniscient God has chosen to be less than omniscient by blanking our sins from His mind? 

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Hi Greg,

Thanks a lot for helping me to grapple with this issue. It came up when I was teaching a Sunday Bible class on forgiveness based on Dr. Neil Anderson's book "Victory Over the Darkness."  He said, "Forgiveness is not forgetting. God who is omniscient doesn’t forget our sins but He promised not to use it against us" in reference to Hebrews 10:17. Our pastor in charge of intercessory and deliverance ministry, who was present, instructed me to remove the statement from the students' notes as it contradicted what another teacher taught the day before. That put me in a dilemma because my understanding of scripture is: If God's nature is eternal, unchanging and all-knowing, how could the knowledge of sin possibly be erased from His mind? It would make Him less than omniscient and therefore less than God. Further, if we still retain knowledge of our sins and He has erased it from His rememberance, then, we know what He doesn't. How could He be omniscient, then? This really is mind-boggling!

Really? Do you really wonder, or is this a point for theological discussion?

Hey brother,

Yes. I would like to know your views on this issue.



Just checking...


We had this discussion not too long ago. This idea of conflict comes from people who insist on one meaning for a word and disallow the Bible from being a normal piece of human literature with figures of speech and shades of meaning. The Bible was expertly written by men who were inspired of God. Because they were men, they used the common language of their culture. This language used idiom and figures of speech as well as multiple shades of meaning. 


So for me, it's not a huge leap to think of "Remember" in this context to mean, "I will not bring it up again". We say things like that all the time - "forget you ever heard this". Of course we never forget, but we will act as if it never happened.

First off, I'm quite sorry to hear that your pastor is so fearful of contradiction between teachings.... we all see through a glass darkly; sometimes we need to hear both sides of an apparent contradiction and make up our own minds.

I'd tend to agree with Greg: I think "remember" in this context means simply that the sins are not called to mind any longer, that they are no longer allowed to be a barrier between us and God. Forgiveness is a very Christian, human, act and I think that when we forgive we are reflecting something of God's character. When we forgive, it isn't simply a case of us blanking the hurtful thing from our memory; rather it involves a recognition that the thing being forgiven was wrong, that it did matter, that it did hurt. But it includes the offer of not allowing this thing to come between us. Similarly, to accept forgiveness is to accept that what you did was wrong.

Hebrews 10 is all about Christ's sacrifice being (by whatever is your favourite mechanism for explaining it) a final, once-for-all way of dealing with the consequences of sin. One of the biggest consequences of sin is a separation between us and God, but Hebrews 10 tells us (v19 onwards) that we can now have confidence coming into his presence.

A couple of really good books on the subject of forgiveness are Demonds Tutu's "No future without forgiveness", and Miroslav Volf's "Exclusion and Embrace".

Hi Daniel,


The non-offensive and lucid way you explain this issue is really helpful. Thanks a bunch.




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