Forgive As God Has Forgiven

Corinthians 5 tells us that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them.

Now we have been given that ministry (serving, like serving food) of reconciliation, ambassadors for God.

Paul wrote to the Ephesians that we are to be forgiving others, as God has in Christ forgiven you.

If we're to represent God to this world as His ambassadors, and His ministry of reconciliation it that He is not counting men's sins against them, there are two things we need to understand.

One is that we need to understand the degree of forgiveness God has given to us. While we were God's enemies, He reconciled us to Himself.

The other is how to actually apply that in our lives, to live not counting people's wrongdoing against them. The flesh cannot do this. Only by allowing Christ to live and love through us can we do this.

Love in Christ,
Hi Mark,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on such an important topic, i.e. forgiveness. While it is a very important theme for us as Christians, I also feel the world in general has a rather distorted understanding of what the concept really entails. So I'll try to address some of my concerns here now.

First, no one has to forgive anyone. While Jesus does admonish us to forgive others (as God forgives us, inversely), in another passage He also gives His followers the authority to remit sins, i.e. not forgive people. He wanted His followers to judge and decide righteously based on certain criteria, whereas the world today likes to scream out for forgiveness - point blank - without any consideration for some of the necessary criteria to receive that forgiveness. And I'm afraid that, my friend, is simply not on.

Almost every time in the Bible where forgiveness is mentioned or enacted, the preliminary condition of repentance precedes the giving or receiving or forgiveness. Without repentance, there can be no remission of sin. And John the Baptist is famous for demanding that His followers "bring forth fruit" worthy of repentance to show that they were truly sorry for what they had done. But this concept of repentance (and bringing forth fruits worthy of repentance) is sorely missing in today's world of "just forgive me without me even having to repent", which we live in today.

Come judgment day, God will be sending the majority of the world to Hell. It's a biblical reality. I'm sure several people will say at that time, "God, I asked you for forgiveness; why have you still sent me to Hell to be punished?" And they will likely receive an answer along the lines of, "Because you didn't repent, and I can clearly show that, as you also didn't bring forth any fruits of repentance."

By all means, let's preach forgiveness. But let's also preach repentance as a necessary requirement for forgiveness at the same time. The two work together hand in hand.
Hi kweli tu,

Yes, this is completely true - repentance is required to receive forgiveness. And true repentance - metanoia - "after-mind" - the result of an "exchanged mind" - will always result in a changed life. Maybe not too noticeable on the outside at first, but changed nonetheless.

Repentance is where we reject the mind of the flesh - the sin nature - acknowledging our sins before God, and desire the new mind, the mind of Christ, though we don't normally know the theology yet. God gives us regeneration, and we receive the new mind, having exchanged the mind of the flesh for the mind of Christ. And that new mind begins to express through our behaviors, our thoughts, words, and deeds.

Generally all we really know at the time is that we're rotten, lost, and we need Jesus. But God knows whether we're really receiving Him as our new Master, our Rescuer. And If we are, He gives us rebirth.

It is written, He will tell them, I never knew you. These who will be lost, though they thought they would be saved, they wanted all the things, wanted to do the works, but it was not about Jesus Himself.

It's all about Jesus. Knowing Him. Jesus said, This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom You have sent.

Again, I want to emphasize, I completely agree with you. It is when we want to give up our sins to serve the Living God that this God forgives those sins. Repentance ALWAYS precedes salvation in Scripture.

My purpose in this post, however, was to address a slightly different point.

We, as people . . . I'll speak for myself . . . I have the tendency to allow my own perceptions of being wronged by others to get in the way of my giving to others the service that God desires for me to give them.

God wants me to continually live a life that offers His love to the people of this world. If I'm wrapped up in tallying up their sins, than I'm not busy loving them, in whatever way I'm supposed to be. It is when I forget about whether someone is treating me right or not that I can serve them with my whole heart.

Jesus' example was that He did not condemn, accuse, He served.

It may be in giving food, or preaching the Gospel to the unbeliever, or teaching Scripture to the believer, or praying for the guy at work who hates you. Whatever God has called you to do.

And especially as regards presenting God's reconciliation to the unsaved - in love telling them they have to trade the sins of the flesh for the salvation of the Lord - living the forgiveness that God is extending. Let's prove in our lives that God's forgiveness is real, by letting it be real in us. Just as Jesus did, when He was here in His body. Because now, we are His body.

Love in Christ,
Hi Mark,

I'm not advocating tallying up sins, or anything like that. And I'm all for loving people; it's the second greatest command for us as Christians. I guess the main distinction I see between what you're talking about and what I'm talking about is the difference between genuine forgiveness, and being willing to forgive people. One requires repentance on the part of the wrong-doer to be actualized (forgiveness), while the other (being willing to forgive) doesn't.

Jesus definitely served, but I think it's inaccurate to say He didn't condemn people; e.g. what do we call His reproof of the Scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23:13-39?

The bottom line is not that judging (or condemning) is wrong, but rather that we be willing to forgive/input grace into whatever judgments we mete out. That is the message of truth and grace as I understand it, i.e. having enough faith to judge righteous judgments, but also being gracious enough to forgive if/when people repent. And I think that's also largely how God deals with us as His children.

Giving food is great, preaching the gospel can be greater; and we all know about the benefits of teaching, praying for enemies, etc. These are all genuine Christian activities. But I think a genuine follower of God has to also be open to not doing all of these things as well, e.g. not giving food when people ask (as Jesus is recorded as having done once with the multitudes asking for bread), or not preaching to certain people (as Jesus instructed His followers against for people who weren't worthy), so on and so forth. The main thing is to be attentive to the Spirit at all times, and make a final decision based on what He is saying in the moment.

I'll leave it there for now.
Concerning forgiveness, there is an interesting idea from the Lord's Prayer emphasized in a book called "Forgiveness made easy" by Dag is simply called "The Lord's Prayer test". Simply put the name of the person in the gap: forgive me my sins as I forgive .........
Can you try this?
May you pass the test
God forgives as an act of judicial pardon, we must do the same. But we do not forgive in order to receive forgiveness, as under the Old Covenant. We have already been forgiven.

Having received the nature of our Father, our nature is now to forgive, as He has forgiven. We are to, as in all things, live out our new nature.

Love in Christ,