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Forgiveness Begins

Forgiveness Begins

As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, we’re now at the crucifixion of Christ. There’s so much for us to see in this section of Scripture.

Sometimes we need to be reminded about the simplest concepts. Something as common as forgiveness should be reviewed again and again so that it stays fresh in our hearts. Christ is our greatest example of forgiveness, even while hanging on the cross.

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals — one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

Luke 23:32-34 NIV

In the past I’ve shared about what forgiveness is. It started out as God’s idea. In the Old Testament, God is the only one who ever forgave. Forgiveness is the end of the penalty for our actions. It cancels the demand for retribution. It also frees us from the guilt.

If you want to read the original series in more detail, click here.

Jesus started the process of our forgiveness even while being humiliated and ignored on the cross. But, how does this process work? Let’s start with King David in 2 Samuel, chapters 11 and 12.

It all began when he stayed home from battle when he should have been with his army. He ended up on his porch, watching his neighbor’s wife as she bathed. David ended up being involved in adultery, murder, and a cover-up.

God sends the prophet, Nathan, to confront David with these sins. David is convicted, repents, and writes a song about his experience. (Psalm 51)

In the first 4 verses of Psalm 51 he used 5 different words for sin. He wanted to make sure he covered everything. That’s how forgiveness starts.

The first step – Sin is committed. There is a failure, a hurt against someone. But the truth is that no matter who gets hurt, there’s one important truth we need to recognize.

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.

Psalm 51:4 NIV

Think about all that were hurt by David’s actions. There was Bathsheba, Uriah, Joab, Nathan, David’s family, as well as the whole nation of Israel. In spite of all this hurt, David recognized that the sin was against God only.

This is the key. We have such a high opinion of ourselves. The fact is that we were created to be perfect. Anything less offends God. There is no sin we could possibly commit that’s not against God.

There is good news, however. That’s not the end of the story. The next step is that once sin is committed, forgiveness is purchased.

We know from Scripture that without blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22). Under the Old Testament Law there had to be a sacrifice. The Good News is that we live after the cross.

Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Matthew 26:27-28 NIV

The blood of Christ paid for our forgiveness once and for all. It was the one perfect payment needed.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.

Ephesians 1:7 NIV

This verse says that we have been loosed off by His blood and our sins are forgiven. Forgiveness is available to all.

But that’s also a problem. It’s available to all, but it’s not yet manifest. That’s what the Good News of Christ is all about. It’s communicating the forgiveness of God to the world.

Each one of us, as believers, should be proclaiming this great Gospel.

Question: How has God’s forgiveness changed your life?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2023 in Encouragement, Faith, Ministry, The Gospel

 

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The Word of Reconciliation

In my last post, I talked about the way we’re changed in Christ.  It’s not by willpower or trial and error, but the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us.

Now Paul talks about the nature of that change and our response to it.

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.  And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19

This passage is the basis for everything we do in Christ.  It’s all about reconciliation.  But that’s a big word.  What does it mean, exactly?

We’re told that God reconciled us to Himself in Christ.  That Greek word is actually used for money-changers. It’s like when you travel abroad; you turn in your US dollars and exchange them for the equivalent amount of Euros.

In the context of this passage, it means to change mutually. Because of what Jesus did, a change occurred in the relationship between God and the world.

Christ took the sin of the entire world – past, present, and future – and bore it to the cross.  The fact that He rose from the dead proves that God accepted His sacrifice.  Now the way is opened up for all of us to enter a new relationship with God through Christ.

We have to see that the change was mutual.  Because Christ took away our sin, the anger of God subsided.  That allows us to approach God for forgiveness and restoration.

It doesn’t end there.  Once we experience this great gift, we enter into the service of reconciliation.

There are a lot of things that take place when we bow our knee to Jesus Christ.  One of them is referred to in this passage.  It literally says that the Lord has laid down inside of us the Word of reconciliation.

What does that mean to us?

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.  We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:20

This part of the equation is just as important as the first part.  There are some who teach that because God reconciled Himself to the world, everyone is saved no matter what they do.  But that’s not the case.

Reconciliation is a mutual change.  God has already prepared His forgiveness for all who want it.  The problem is that forgiveness requires action from both parties.

Forgiveness must be both given and received for it to take effect.  I have to come before God and agree to His terms of reconciliation.

The difficulty is that I have to admit that I was at fault and there’s nothing I can do to rectify my condition.  I then have to accept the fact that only the work of Christ can reconcile me to God.  There are many who can’t live with that.

But for those of us who’ve experienced the grace, love, and forgiveness of God, there’s nothing better.  Praise God for His incredible gift!

Question: How has this reconciliation changed your life?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2020 in Ministry, Spiritual Walk, The Church, The Gospel

 

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Faith, Prayer, and Forgiveness

In my last post, we saw that true faith is based upon a Word from God, with God as the object of that faith.  As the Lord was explaining this to His disciples, He makes a very interesting statement.

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
Mark 11:25

This statement confuses a lot of people.  They don’t know what this has to do with believing and receiving from God.  It also causes some people to ask, “If I don’t forgive someone, does that mean that I’ll not be saved?”

There’s a big reason for all this confusion.  It stems from our modern concept of the word, forgive.  Our generation has no idea what the scriptural word means.

When we say that you need to forgive someone, it’s a watered down version.  We mean that you need to tell the person that you’re not mad at them anymore.  Everything’s okay now and our relationship can move on from whatever caused the problem.

The biblical word for forgive has nothing to do with the above.  It literally means to pick up and throw away.  It’s like what you do with your trash.  You throw it out to the curb.  Then it’s removed, never to be seen again…ever.

With that understanding, now we can look at what Jesus is saying to His disciples.  Remember, the Lord is talking about standing in prayer.  This is about believing God for the desires that He’s placed in our hearts.

When you’re in that place of prayer, you’re having an intimate time with the Lord.  At this time, the Holy Spirit brings to your attention that you’ve placed a roadblock between you and another person.  It could be for any reason, but usually, it’s for a perceived hurt against us.

At that point, the Lord simply wants us to remove that wall that we’ve erected.  I realize that this is not an easy thing to do.

“Lord, I remove the issue that I have been holding against him or her right now.  From here on out, with your power, I’ll treat them like it never happened.”

This goes against our human nature.  That’s especially true because it has nothing to do with the other party’s desire (or lack of desire) for forgiveness.  It’s all on my part.

But understand, there’s a blessing that comes from this.  It paves the way for God to remove anything blocking His blessing from getting to me.

The word translated as sin, in the above verse, is the word side-step.  You’re on the right path following Christ.  But you made a misstep.  You haven’t lost your salvation.  You don’t have to “get saved” all over again.

However, there is something that could be keeping you from receiving all that God has for you.  In Christ, God dealt with all of your sin before you were ever born.  Now He’s asking you to do the same thing for a fellow human being.

If you’ll remove the thing that’s blocking you from blessing them, then He will remove the thing blocking your blessing.  I think that it’s well worth the trade.  Of course, in our flesh, we might not agree with that.

This is why we need the power of the Holy Spirit working in us.  It’s also why the Lord said that it needed to be done while we were standing in the place of prayer.

So, if there’s anything the Lord’s dealing with you about, take care of it quickly, and let the blessings flow freely again!

Question: How has God’s forgiveness changed your life?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Forgiveness – God’s Greatest Idea

heart CrossForgiven – 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?”
Luke 5:20-21

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.
Romans 6:23

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.
Hebrews 9:22

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

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2016 in Encouragement, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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