Forgiven – I keep coming back to this word. Each time I do; I realize I know less and less about it. Forgiveness is tied to so many things in the Scripture. Debts, healing, relationships, redemption, blessings, etc.
I’m convinced that as believers, we need an understanding of the forgiveness of God. Not only that, but we also need to understand how He calls us to forgive others – and ourselves.
Even defining forgiveness is a hard thing to do. It seems that this generation has lost the understanding. Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary has 4 definitions. What I found is that the first two, and last, line up with the Scripture. The third is how we define it in practice. I want to take a few posts to talk about the concept of forgiveness.
The third definition says, “To cease to blame or feel resentment against.” I think that this is the way our modern society looks at it. It’s kind of like a get out of jail free card. When someone reminds us of the past, we say, “I thought you forgave me for that?”
Remember, as Christians we’re not a part of this world system. We shouldn’t act or think the way the world does. Our understanding of things should be higher than the way society thinks.
Forgiveness is one of those areas. Of all people, Christians should understand forgiveness more than anyone else. The big question is; what exactly is forgiveness?
When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Let’s be fair with the Pharisees and teachers of the law. If you study the Old Testament, you make a very important discovery. The word forgive is only used by God. That can only lead to one conclusion.
Forgiveness is God’s idea.
So if that’s true, then the only definition that matters is God’s definition.
Please understand, the command to forgive is a New Covenant truth. But nowhere in the Old Testament is there a command for people to forgive each other. Why? Because forgiveness is more than just feeling better about someone.
That brings me to the first definition that I found in Webster’s Dictionary.
“To cease to demand the penalty for, to pardon.”
The simple fact is that we all sin. We all miss the mark of who God wants us to be. With that comes a penalty.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The penalty for sin is death. How can a human being have the ability to forgive? It would be absolutely impossible. That’s because forgiveness of sin requires a penalty to be paid.
That’s why the only time we see forgiveness in the Old Testament is in relation to the sacrifices.
In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
Forgiveness only comes when the penalty is removed. That’s the only time God can “cease to demand the penalty for” what we’ve done wrong.
It’s a spiritual truth that forgiveness is only purchased by blood. There had to be a substitute to pay the penalty. Under the Old Covenant it was an animal.
Praise God for what Jesus Christ did on the cross. I can now walk confidently in the forgiveness of God. Christ could forgive us, because He was took the penalty of all our sins on Himself.
Question: How does God’s forgiveness change your outlook on life?
© Nick Zaccardi 2016