Forgiveness journey 11: forgiveness journey into the damage of sin and the healing of forgiveness.
Wisdom requires that when an offence is so aggregious that relationship may never be fully the same. The fact that God allowed divorce for fornication exemplified such problems. King Saul sinned where he could no longer be king, and remember moses sinned and was not allowed to enter into the promised land. I Samuel 15:23; Deuteronomy 34:5 Thus a sin can compromise a persons reputation or life to the degree that their lives are forever marked. Remember Cain, marked for life. how about King David who sinned and found forgiveness but never had the same power as king prior to his sins. For example, A worker who stole from his boss can be forgiven, and even make restitution but should not be allowed to handle the business’ finances. Thus we need to repent as soon as we reckon with our own sinfulness. Restitution as much as we are able by the spirit shouldbe accomplished as quickly as it is found. Next we shall look briefly at withholding forgiveness and the time it takes to forgive.
Journey into forgiveness 10: a journey into understanding the process of forgiveness
Forgiveness has the picture of lovingly canceling a debt, unconditional forgiveness of the ignorant, and conditional forgiveness of the unrepentant. It also is the loving removal of obstacles that drive people apart. With repeated abuse, animosity, distance, pain, anger sometimes and irreconcilable hatred can occur. Repeated abuse requires loving rebuke and forgiveness when repentance is shown. Christ explained that unrepentant church members were to be excluded from worship when they had been properly confronted. But when they showed repentance restoration should occur. We should however be reminded that in reconciliation we need be careful so that we are not compromised in sin as well. Galations 6:1-3 that is why paul says you who are spiritual do the reconciling and restoration. we are so prone to judge the look and the outside without true wisdom of the nature of God and the hearts of men. How we look at people contrasted with how God sees people is seen when Samuel thought he had found the king to replace king Saul; but God had different plans. I Samuel 16:7 “But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart”. Even the church can withhold the administration of the lord supper to known rebellious members.1 cor 5: 6-16 cf Matt 18:17 for more on church discipline. However when they repent they can partake without hindrance.
Journey into forgiveness 9: the question of the when of forgiveness
Matthew 18:21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
Biblical forgiveness probably is more misunderstood than any other doctrine in scripture. Some believe it is unconditionally releasing someone from past guilt without any consequences. However a close reading of scripture reveals a deeper view.
You might say, pastor you are wrong. God unconditionaly forgives me without any consequences. However do I need to remind you, that there was a bloody horrible cost to Christ. God’s holiness requires the cross and death of Christ for his forgiveness. Also just because He unconditionally forgives me of my sin does not mean he always removes the consequences of bad life choices I have made in my past abuses. Even though he sometimes does do grand things physically at our salvation he only guarantees the new body at his return. Notice, though God forgave the thief on the cross; he still died for his own crimes. Lovingly willingly canceling the accountability for offenses defines the issue of biblical forgiveness. Three main pictures of forgiveness are seen in the bible. Sometimes we need to forgive over and over. Matt 18:22. Other times we must forgive in spite of someone’s ignorance. Luke 23:34. However we also need to know forgiveness may require proof of a changed life. God has standards that the repentant person should meet. For example, in the statement to peter about forgiving seventy times seven the answer is yes upon their repentance and ask for forgiveness. God requires unbelievers to repent. In salvation God requires repentance, to exercise faith and to cry out to him for salvation in order to be saved. Honestly I cannot know the heart of one who says they are sorry but certain things in a persons life depict repentance. John the Baptist knew this when he told the pharisees,
Matthew 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
Likewise in Luke 17:3-4 Jesus did not teach unconditional forgiveness but required repentance for forgiveness.
Journey into forgiveness 8: a journey into the meaning of forgive and forget
Micah 7:18 Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger forever, because he delighteth in mercy.
Micah 7:19 He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
Several questions arise as to what it means to biblically forgive and forget, should forgiveness ever be withheld, and does forgiveness mean to forgive without and consequences? First let’s look briefly at forgiveness and the issue of forgetting.
This passage contextually deals with pardon of sin. Note that the same God who here is said to forget sins must also be one who remembers promises. Thus this is not forgetfulness like we forget where we laid the keys but a willful action on Gods part in relation to our sins. This willful forgetfulness has to do with his pardoning us and our accountability. Necessarily God’s holiness requires just payment for sin. Thaţ payment occurs in full at calvary thru Christ’s sacrifice. Even when Christ died he cried “it is finished.” In the Greek it is an accounting term saying the debt is paid in full. This means our sins are taken away from us and placed on Christ. And at salvation he imputes his righteousness. In other words our sin debt towards God was paid in full by Christ and replaced with his righteousness. In effect he erased our debt and we no longer owe it. That is why God states he forgets our sins because we are no longer counted as owing them. In describing Abraham’s salvation, the Hebrew renders similarly “….he counted it to him for righteousness ” Gen 15:6. You might wonder to what degree God forgets our sins once pardoned. God remembers the sin in general because Christ is still known as the sin redeemer in the future.(rev 5:12) We, too will sing the song of redemption (13). And Christ will wear in his body the marks of redemption for eternity (john 20:27). So what does it mean that God forgets our sin? He lovingly accepts the payment of Christ for sin debt satisfying his holiness. Furthermore when we accept Christ payment for our sins he forgets them or no longer holds us accountable for them. Thus, though we are finite and fallen and never fully forget wrongs perpetrated against us, we the injured can lovingly choose to forgive and to hold the injurer no longer accountable. However remorse, recognition of sins committed, and certainly repentance are still required.
Forgiveness 7: a journey into forgiving others
Matthew 6:15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses
So far we have seen that finding forgiveness involves, accepting responsibility, self examination, honesty, confession of sin, full acceptance of that forgiveness given by God, and forgiveness of self. Once we forgive ourselves we must take this healing one step further. The principle clearly becomes, if God can forgive me, I can forgive myself. And if God can forgive me then I can forgive others. However, just as forgiveness of self is hard so is the complicated journey of forgiving others. Reasons for ignoring God’s forgiveness principles include, you don’t know what they did to me. They have not shown true remorse, just to name a few. The problems with forgiving others can become very complicated. In may of 2010,
According to an article by Melissa Davies, a teenager lost control in Christchurch and hit and killed a four year old child. The mother said she forgives the teenager. She admits though it would be harder if the teen had been racing or drunk. Amazing, the very fact that this mother can forgive such a tragic situation shows the power of the divine. Human nature seeks revenge only the divine nature seeks forgiveness.
In another tragedy, similar events took the life of a road construction worker in 2009. The mother stated, ” my faith helps me forgive but I also want justice for my daughter. I don’t question God because he has a purpose for everything that he does. It hurts when you loose your mom and dad but nothing compares to lose a child that’s the worst pain you could ever have,”
What complicates this story is that the young man fled the scene. If it had not been for civilian good samaritans the perpetrator would not been caught. And to complicate matters further the young man who had already been charged 3 times for drunken driving posted bail and walked in Aug 2009. Forgiveness in such trial could be nearly impossible. If forgiveness is given and received two people are free. If just the one injured forgives at least they are free. Forgiveness cost pride, fear, bondage and the right of revenge. Unforgiveness costs a lifetime of being tied to that moment, trapped in bondage, filled with hurt, fear that colors all that you touch, breathe or think for the rest of your life. Forgiveness not only frees the sinner but it also frees the victim as well. Even our Lord cried from the cross, Father forgive them for they know not what they do.
Forgiveness 6: A journey into the freedom of forgiveness.
If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed John 8:37
If you follow David’s life, it becomes clear, that because of incriminating guilt, he finds it hard to deal with his children correctly, especially Absolam. When Absolam sins by killing his brother Amnon, and even when he comes against his own father attempting to overthrow the kingdom, David responds with the weakness of misdirected guilt.(2 Samuel 13:23; 2 Samuel 15:12-17).
Remember if we confess our sin to God he faithfully forgives us. That means he no longer holds us accountable incriminating us no more. If we believe God’s truth in obtaining forgiveness then we must also believe him that he does forgive. When after forgiveness, guilt returns to defeat us, we must live by truth and not emotions. Otherwise we are saying in effect that we know better than God, thus deifying ourselves. If God forgives us we must also forgive ourselves otherwise we are sinning again.
When we confess finding forgiveness, and we accept God’s forgiveness we then are freed from guilt and can find true clarity in future decisions we make.
Forgiveness 5: a journey into forgiveness of self.
Proverbs 20:9 Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?
One of the toughest parts of the journey towards forgiveness comes when God forgives us but we allow memory to keep us in bondage to guilt that God has already cleansed. Self examination
leads towards confession but self incrimination after forgiveness leads to fear, self loathing, and an inability to properly relate with others. We may say outwardly that we are sorry for our sin and truly may be sorry. That repentant heart towards God found forgiveness for King David. However when we are alone with ourselves in our own mind, invariably we revisit our guilt, incriminating ourselves returning to selfloathing. This defeated view hinders us in loving and forgiving others. Remember what God declares clean is clean.(Acts 10:15; 1 john 1:9)