How To Know the Biblical Truth About Forgive and Forget

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Is the phrase "forgive and forget" in the Bible? Is it even possible to truly forgive and forget? Does it mean you haven't forgiven if you can't forget? We're taking a look at the Biblical Truth.

Christians have been told for years that forgiveness includes forgetting.

Henry Ward Beecher said, “I can forgive, but I cannot forget,” is only another way of saying, “I will not forgive.”


What is the truth from the Bible about the phrase “forgive and forget”?

I decided to do some digging to find the Biblical truth and I think the teaching that combines forgiveness and forgetfulness comes from the following verses…

Isaiah wrote…

This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake
    and will never think of them again.

Isaiah 43:14,25

David wrote…

He has removed our sins as far from us
    as the east is from the west.

Psalm 103:12

And Paul wrote…

Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Ephesians 4:32

I believe that because God tells His children that He not only forgives but that He does not remember their sins once they have been forgiven, there are Bible teachers who have combined those verses with verses that tell us to forgive as He forgives us.

But the truth is that the phrase “forgive and forget” is not found anywhere in the Bible.

We are commanded to forgive one another because God has forgiven us and when we quickly and willingly forgive others, we show people the God who loves and wants to forgive them.

The truth about “forgive and forget” is that there are some circumstances when it’s impossible. We have memories and we can’t willfully make them forget life-changing events.

Got questions says it like this…

“We cannot selectively “delete” events from our memory.”

And adds…

 “God is still all-knowing.” Because of Jesus and our faith in Him, God chooses to treat our sins as if they have never occurred.

So, our heavenly Father’s command to forgive is His will that we would continuously live with an attitude of forgiveness. That we are willing to leave offenses in the past and move ahead unhindered by anger, bitterness, or a need for retribution.

Ideally, the person who hurt us will repent and ask for our forgiveness but even if they don’t, we are commanded to surrender our feelings to the Holy Spirit and our will to God … that means living with a forgiving heart that is always ready and willing to show people God’s love.

When you and I refuse to forgive, when we live with anger and bitterness … we are giving the person who hurt us power over our thoughts and emotions. But when we forgive them, it takes the power we’ve given the offender and gives it back to Jesus. Forgiving is an act of obedience that opens us up to the One who is the TRUTH that sets us free.

Jesus said…

“You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:31–32


“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. 

Luke 6:37
Is the phrase "forgive and forget" in the Bible? Is it even possible to truly forgive and forget? Does it mean you haven't forgiven if you can't forget? We're taking a look at the Biblical Truth.

Let’s pray and ask the Lord to give us everything we need to forgive…

A Prayer to Understand and Obey Forgive and Forget

Father, Your love overwhelms me. I don’t deserve Your love and forgiveness and yet, You generously offer it to me. You sent Jesus to show us who You are and how very much You love us. And You promise that through His sacrifice, by Your grace, we can have faith that leads to humble repentance and the promise that You do cleanse us from all our flaws and failures.

Your Word tells us Your forgiveness is so complete it removes our sins as far as the East is from the West. It says that You choose not to remember them … to treat them as if they never happened. All because of Jesus.

Your love is beyond comprehension. But although it’s hard to understand in this sinful selfish world, I believe. Because You said so … I believe. Because Your Word is trustworthy … I believe.

Father, please give me everything I need to trust and obey. Please help me forgive and love like You, like Jesus. Help me leave sin in the past, my sins, and the sins of others. Help me choose and enjoy the freedom of living with a heart and mind that holds no bitterness and animosity. Help me show people the beauty of Your love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Is the phrase "forgive and forget" in the Bible? Is it even possible to truly forgive and forget? Does it mean you haven't forgiven if you can't forget? We're taking a look at the Biblical Truth.

Finally, here is a helpful word to remember about “forgive and forget”…

Just because you haven’t forgotten doesn’t necessarily mean that you haven’t forgiven.

You and I can choose to forgive by deciding to let go of all bitterness and resentment so that we experience God’s peace.

You may have heard Ann Lander’s quote – “Hanging onto resentment is letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head.”

God doesn’t want that for us. He wants us to be filled with His love and to generously share His love with others.

So, let’s forgive. And if we find ourselves reliving an offense … let’s take it to God. Let’s choose to honor Him by freely sharing His love and forgiveness even when it’s hard and even when we can’t forget.

May God bless you and give you everything you need to let go of anger and enjoy the freedom of forgiveness.

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  1. Martha Orlando says:

    Forgiveness is the door to freedom for ourselves and others. May we all be willing to let go of the past and the offences committed against us and others.
    Blessings, Deb!

    1. Amen, Martha! It is impossible to live in true freedom without it. Oh, how we need Jesus! Blessings and hugs!

  2. Kathy Francescon says:

    Amen, Deb! If we want to truly love as Jesus loved, we must forgive. And to truly forgive, will also diminish the memory and the pain. Forgiveness frees the heart and soul and our minds.
    Romans 12:14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
    18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
    21 Be not overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.
    We MUST forgive and forgiveness will help us forget…I want the joy of rejoicing, not the bitterness battering! Have a joyful day of rejoicing in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

    1. Thanks for adding this, Kathy. You’re right. True forgiveness frees us and lessens the pain when we do remember. His grace is sufficient to forgive us and to help us forgive others. Blessings, my friend. I hope you are having a great week.

  3. I can forgive but some things need to be remembered to protect others…never leaving your child with someone you know is abusive, a pedophile etc.

    1. That’s a good point, Penny. Thanks so much for visiting and for adding this to the conversation. God bless you!

  4. Claire scott says:

    You absolutely delight my life

    1. What a lovely word of encouragement, Claire. I’m so glad to know that you are being blessed by your visits. God be with you and fill you with His peace and much joy.