Two sides of forgiveness

woman-578429_640Jeremiah 50:20: In those days and at that time,” declares Yahweh, “the guilt of Israel will be sought, but there is none, and the sins of Judah, but they will not be found, for I will forgive those I left behind.

Forgiveness is a matter for the will and not just the emotion. It is the will of God that we forgive others. It is a decision we can make, and how we feel will line up with it.

Forgiveness is given to others and received from God.

Giving forgiveness

Forgiving is good for both the giver and the receiver. Jesus said we should pray: forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us (Matthew 6:12). Jesus was an example in this. Though he did not have any sin that he needed to be forgiven of, he asked that God will forgive those who nailed him to the cross (Luke 23:34).

When Stephen was being martyred, he asked God to forgive his assailants, to not put the sin in their account. He did not hold anything against them (Acts 7:58-60). Jesus promises torment for the people who will not forgive others. In a parable he spoke of a debt owed by two men, one owned the other small money who in turn owed the king a big amount (Matthew 18:21-35).

While the king forgave one servant, the one forgiven refused to forgive his fellow servant and when the king heard about it, he was angry and asked that the unforgiving servant be put in prison to be tormented till he paid all he owed that was previously forgiven him. He did not express forgiveness to others and it was withdrawn from him. Jesus gave that parable to illustrate how important it is to forgive others from our heart, not holding anything against them.

The unforgiving do not show the same kindness to others as God has shown him. Jesus said that no one is good except God (Matthew 19:17a). So if an infinitely perfect and good God forgives us our sins, the least we can do is to forgive others, since we have faults of ours. Therefore, offering forgiveness shows humility.

When we truly receive the forgiveness of God, it means we have embraced and received the love that he has for us. Then we should be able to extend the same love to others. As far as John was concerned, love for others is the litmus test to show if we know God or not (1John 2:9-11).

To be able to extend forgiveness is part of the love package of God in us (Romans 5:5). Paul said that the way to be filled with all the fullness of God is to comprehend the height, length, breadth and depth of the love of God which passes all understanding (Ephesians 3:14-21). His love for us equips us to extend love to others.

The Holy Spirit comes to shed abroad the love of God in our hearts, not only showing us that God accepts us but also helping us to accept others with their faults and frailties.

Paul said that those who are mature should bear with the failing of the weak and not to please ourselves (Romans 15:1). Not extending forgiveness is a sign of self-focus, it is focus on how much wrong has been done you and how the other party needs to pay. In a way, that shows your sense of bloated self-importance, and twisted need for validation. Choosing to be harsh and not extend love shows how dried up the soul of that servant was, of the water of love.

Receiving forgiveness

God cannot stand sin. Isaiah said that God is limited in what he can do the life of the people because of the problem of sin (Isaiah 59:1). But in another place in the bible we read that blessed is the man to whom God does not input iniquity (Psalm 32:2, Romans 4:6). That means in your record, sin is not recorded.

This happens in Jesus Christ, Jesus brings us under the cover of his blood and we are changed under it. His blood is active as it works in us, imparting the life of God in us because the life of a man is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11). The blood cleanses us on the inside so that we can stand before God with no sense of condemnation.

The bible says in the book of Hebrews that the many sacrifices made in the Old Testament bring a consciousness of sin, but with the blood of Jesus we see that our sins are washed away, not for a time being but for all time (Hebrews 9:12, 10:12).

Paul therefore declared there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). But for the Israelites in the Old Testament, there was condemnation every time a sacrifice is made. And whether you like it or not, there are regular sacrifices made morning and evening, and special sacrifices made monthly and yearly.

Those sacrifices were loud statements of the continuous sinfulness of man, how unworthy we are. And the mighty veil covering the holy of holies (the place where the ark of God, the embodiment of the presence of God is), means there is limit in the association of man with God, in how close man can get to God because of his state of sinfulness (Hebrews 9:1-13, 10:19-20, Mark 15:58).

The veil indicates the distance between man and God that cannot be bridged, till a new covenant was brought to bear. Between God and man, there were layers and layers of sacrifices. This arrangement was really far from the ideal. But Jesus brings, into the human-God relationship arrangement, the perfect sacrifice, which is himself, to once and for all remove the veil, the limit in relationship of man with God, which was there because of sin, since a sinful man and an holy God will ordinarily not meet.

Because of Jesus we have the veil removed from the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). The throne represents the mercy seat was is part of the Ark of the Covenant located in the holy of holies in the Old Testament, with was made to represent the heavenly original.

To the spiritual throne of grace, we do not come fearfully, or self-effacing, but with unveiled faces we behold the glory which is manifested in the holy of holies (2Corinthians 8:13).

We come boldly to the throne of grace. We have not come to try to gain favour. We are already favoured. We are not coming bringing anything in our hands to appease God or any act of self-righteousness. God does not respect anything, but he responds to and respects the blood of Jesus.

God no longer has to be appeased by us. We come as his children, as people who have the right to be there, to be at the throne of grace, as those who are righteous, pleasing to him. We do not come hoping to be accepted, we come because we are already accepted, because we are part of the body of Christ.


One thought on “Two sides of forgiveness

  1. Principles of Forgiveness

    Beyond Tolerable Recovery
    By Ed M. Smith
    Family Care Publishing
    Campbellsville, Kentucky

    Matthew 6: 12: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

    Matthew 6: 14-15: “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

    Quotations are from Matthew 18: 21-30:

    Principle One: Forgiveness is not a means of changing another but rather is the avenue of release for the one holding the debt. “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”

    Principle Two: Forgiveness requires that we take a full account of the debt. “…a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him…”

    Principle Three: The debtor does not have the means to repay the debt. “Since he was not able to pay…”

    Principle Four: Anger is a normal reaction to injustice, but it must be released before freedom will come. “Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.”

    Principle Five: The integrity and sincerity of the indebted offender is not critical for true forgiveness to be administered. “The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’”

    Principle Six: Genuine forgiveness requires we find compassion. “The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go…”

    Principle Seven: Forgiveness benefits the forgiver more than the forgiven. The king “canceled the debt and let him go. But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.”

    Principle Eight: Forgiveness should not be confused with reconciliation.



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