As We Forgive Those...
Forgiveness is all about love. Love is all about forgiveness. The very creation is about love and forgiveness because God is all about love and forgiveness. But this fact of God's Nature became quickly lost in the beginning of human history. The serpent offered Adam through Eve a counterfeit love - being like God, knowing good and evil - so people fell into the morass of self love instead of selfless love.
Gen 3:5 "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
Instead of humbly worshipping God, nearly all people prefer to make God in their image, concerned with puffing themselves up with knowledge of, say, good and evil, in place of love - getting and taking instead of giving and forgiving. After Adam's sin, which God expected, God had the opportunity to prove His love by forgiving sinners. Of course, God decreed that sinners must die unless someone without sin had enough of God's love in him that he would die in their place. Interestingly, without mankind's fall into sin, the powerful gift of God's loving forgiveness would never emerged by which He could restore people to the greatness He intended.
Joh 3:16 = "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Jesus understood God's love completely and comp-
pletely gave himself to that love, even unto death. Jesus willingly gave his life, God willing gave His most priceless possession, to obtain forgiveness for selfish humans, who would neither love nor forgive. With Jesus' sacrifice, GodÕs love could now overwhelm us as it did with Jesus.
God is His Word and God is love; therefore, God's Word is all about love. When God's Word of love became flesh, this flesh, Jesus, lived a life of love and forgiveness. We, too, are made of flesh, so we, too, can live by God's Word of love.
Since we are made in the image of God, how can we participate in God's love by forgiveness?
Our Father in Heaven decreed that in order to obtain His forgiveness through Jesus' death and resurrection provide, we must forgive all those who sin against us.
Mat 6:14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
Mat 6:15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Unless we forgive, we will not be able to enter the Kingdom of God. More than that, God made us in His image, which means in our heart-of-hearts regenerated by the Holy Spirit, we have love and forgiveness aching to break forth. This inner heart wants to participate in the loving forgiveness of GodÕs Nature.
The Aspects of Forgiveness
Sin abounds on planet Earth, but sin can only be justified for by faith in Jesus. Although he destroyed sin and death many years ago, most people will not believe and obtain that forgiveness, which will bring them into a close relationship with Our Father in Heaven. As more and more people become convinced of their freedom from sin, it will gradually wane, but not without a war unparalleled in human history. (See below.)
Act 13:38 "Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.
Act 13:39 Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.
What is it we are to believe? We are to believe the promises. Which? Jesus said we must believe the promise of the Kingdom of God, which is eternal life on Earth, beginning when Jesus Christ returns, and living in a loving relationship with Our Father in Heaven. We will be changed into immortal spirit beings, never to taste death, disease or pain again. This promise is the hope that makes it all possible.
1Co 15:50 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
1Co 15:51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed--
1Co 15:52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
1Co 15:53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
1Co 15:54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." [Isaiah 25:8]
1Co 15:55 "Where, ' death, is your victory? Where, ' death, is your sting?" [Hosea 13:14]
1Co 15:56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
1Co 15:57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Confession of Sins
Until people admit to themselves first and then to God that they have sinned, done evil in His sight, they can never receive forgiveness. But, what must people confess? People must know what sin is: the breaking of the Ten Commandments. And, they must, obviously, know what these commandments are as found in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. Once people know what is right and wrong, they can admit their errors, or not.
1Jo 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. [NIV]
Pro 28:13 He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. [NIV]
The next aspect of forgiveness is repentance; for without a heart-felt change of heart and attitude, no forgiveness is possible.
Mar 1:15 "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"
Restitution Be Made
The slanderer must restore the person's good name. The thief must restore what was stolen plus interest, and should rather work hard to give to the poor.
Eph 4:24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Eph 4:25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.
Eph 4:26 "In your anger do not sin" [Psalm 4:4]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,
Eph 4:27 and do not give the devil a foothold.
Eph 4:28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
Eph 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Eph 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Give Reasons to be Forgiven
We ought to tell Our Father in Heaven why he should forgive us our sins. We ought to tell Him that He should forgive us for His namesake.
Psa 25:11 For the sake of your name, ' LORD, forgive my iniquity, though it is great. [NIV]
Dan 9:19 'Lord, listen! ' Lord, forgive! ' Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name."
We should tell Our Father in Heaven that He should forgive us because Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice to obtain our forgiveness.
Eph 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
There are many other ways to petition God for forgiveness, which must come to your mind.
How Do We Forgive Those Who Sin against Us?
We forgive all who sin against us, just as God forgave us through Jesus' sacrifice. Stephen asked God to forgive those who were stoning him to death. Moses asked God to take his life in place of the wayward children of Israel. We must have an attitude of forgiveness instead of vengefulness. God, indeed, wants repentance for all people, not destruction.
Challenge and Confront Certain Sinners.
Where possible and practical, we may decide to confront a brother who as sinned against us. We can, with great diplomacy and wisdom, confront the one who sinned against us. But, it must be done in gentleness because we care about them.
Gal 6:1 Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.
Gal 6:2 Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
If we can restore a person to the truth, we have done him a service.
Jam 5:19 My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back,
Jam 5:20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
Hatred based on selfishness is against all God stands for, so we must never do anything emanating from maliciousness.
2Th 3:15 Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.
Lev 19:17 "'Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt. [NIV]
A major caution about confronting sinners, who mostly do not like to be confronted because guilty people often fight when they know they are wrong. Their overreacting is how they often hide their feelings of guilt. Also challenging sinners may be a sign of arrogance instead of loving concern, which really annoys anyone because of its blatant hypocrisy. Sometimes silence may be a wiser choice, and caution should be a constant consideration. Remember do not throw pearls to swine. Instead of helping a recalcitrant person to realize the Truth and repent, blindly confronting them may cause more harm than good.
Insist on Forgiving
Since forgiveness, this wonderful aspect of love, is so important as we have noted, we must insist we be forgiven and try to help others to see the light and repent. Peter told the crowd on Pentecost to repent; he insisted they repent and receive the Holy Spirit. The knowledge of redemption by Jesus' blood may persuade people to repent. A major theme of the Bible is forgiveness because we all sin and come short of the Law.
Act 2:38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Eph 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace.
While God's forgiveness is paramount, we also want to get forgiveness from those we may have sinned against. We should stop everything and beg forgiveness and promise to repent. Once reconciled, we can go about our daily lives with a clear conscience. Among the examples the Bible gives is the Prodigal Son who begged his father's indulgence for wasting his inheritance on his profligate life. Isn't it also true that it is harder to gain forgiveness from someone we can see than from God whom we cannot?
Mat 5:23 "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,
Mat 5:24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
Luk 15:21 "The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. [Some early manuscripts son. Make me like one of your hired men.]'
Let me show you a better way to demonstrate forgiveness and love. They knew this way in the Old Testament even without the knowledge of Jesus' sacrifice. Proverbs says love covers sins.
Pro 10:12 Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs.
Pro 17:9 He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
Rom 4:7 "Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Certainly the blood of Jesus covered all the wrongs and sins than any person had committed or will commit. What love God and Jesus have for us! If they be for us, who can be against us? Again, our hearts must want to be involved in forgiving love.
Col 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Putting up with other's foibles can be a trial, but love and forgiveness makes it possible. Instead of showing off how much better we are than others because God may have blessed us with talent or ability, we ought to use our skills to help, not criticize and judge; for vengeance is God's not ours. So we bless instead of putting down.
Rom 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. [NIV]
1Co 4:12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; [NIV]
If you have ever tried blessing those who are criticizing or cursing you, you know what a stunning effect it has. It has to be the best put down there is. Those who hear this unique "put down" know something very unusual, actually something very holy, has happened. And they know who really had the last, best word.
Doing good out of loving forgiveness gives huge satisfaction. Our peaceful actions avert violence and promote the glory of God. Repentance means changing, so we can change from being vengeful to feeding and giving water to our enemies. It may or may not turn them to God, but not doing it will certainly not. Doing good is the best way to show loving forgiveness.
Rom 12:17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.
Rom 12:18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Rom 12:19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," [Deut. 32:35] says the Lord.
Rom 12:20 On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." [Prov. 25:21,22]
Rom 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
All right, we decide to forgive but do we hold a grudge in our hearts anyway. It is better to be like our father and cover our bitterness in our hearts by forgiving and forgetting. God shows us the example.
Heb 8:12 For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." [Jer. 31:31-34]
Jer 31:34 No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the LORD. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."
While we must have a forgiving attitude, there are times we cannot forgive. Those studied in evil neither want forgiveness nor would accept it if offered. There are some who will not change even under torture or the threat of death. Revelation describes the situation in the last days where the evil people refuse to give up their idolatry, murdering and thieving.
Rev 16:9 They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.
Let us all participate in God's loving forgiveness in all aspects of our lives. Let us change and live by love instead of latent selfishness. Let us follow God's love wherever it may lead. We are made in God's image and our minds are ready to receive His love, which we must display in all our words and deeds. Let us participate in being lights, which can bring others into the light of love.
Joh 3:15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. [Or believes may have eternal life in him]
Joh 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, [Or his only begotten Son] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Joh 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Joh 3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. [Or God's only begotten Son]
Send your questions and responses to: firstname.lastname@example.org