Posted by: Harry Sasnowitz | October 16, 2016

Forgiveness Is A Two-Way Street

It’s easy to find believers that are enthusiastic about grace. Many speak very excitedly about having received forgiveness of sins through God’s grace extended to them in Christ, yet some of these same people have tremendous difficulty extending this same grace to those who have sinned against them.

Forgiveness goes much deeper than merely receiving it for ourselves and going on our merry way. What we have freely received, we must freely give. We’re called to forgive others as Christ has forgiven us. And how has Christ forgiven us?

Unconditionally.

Understand I am not talking about the issue of trust here. Trust must be earned, but forgiveness must be extended freely.

The power of harboring a judgment against another is an incredibly destructive force. Have you ever been around someone who can’t let go of what “so and so” did to them? Have you stuck around long enough to see the resulting fruit of that person’s life? I have, and it ain’t pretty. The unwillingness to forgive someone for an offense is an open door for the root of bitterness to take hold of a person’s heart which will not only defile the heart of the person harboring the judgment, but will even negatively impact the hearts of those in that person’s relational sphere (Hebrews 12:15).

Now consider a person on the receiving end of someone’s judgment. They may have experienced sorrow for what they did, even approaching the offended person with a genuine apology. But without hearing a genuine “I forgive you” from the offended, they can easily become a prime target for the accusations of the devil and suffer unnecessarily by carrying the weight of guilt and condemnation for their action, even though they’ve been completely forgiven by God.

For some Christians, it more or less seems like this is exactly what they would want. “He made me suffer, so now let him suffer some…” This is so sad, and in no way reflective of the Spirit of Christ.

Friends, we are called to be judgment breakers, not judgment makers; judgment lifters, not judgment inflictors. May God help us to not merely talk grace, but walk grace.

 

 

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Responses

  1. The purpose of forgiveness is reconciliation. “God was reconciling the world to Himself.” (2 Cor 5:17-21) How was He doing this? Through the forgiveness of sins offered by Christ. In fact, God was not even holding our sins against us.

    Further still, the offer of forgiveness was made available to the whole world. “He [Christ] is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2) Anyone who would believe in Him would have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

    As with humans, the best anyone can do who has been offended is offer unconditional forgiveness to the offender. Once offered, reconciliation is not up to them. It is now in the hands of the offender. Will they accept the forgiveness and be reconciled? Will we accept the offer of unconditional reconciliation by the grace of God and be reconciled to Him?

    Dwight Hurych
    http://www.RevelationsForLife.com

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    • Well said, Dwight. Thanks for the input, and thanks for sharing your blog; I look forward to receiving encouragement through it.

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  2. I am thankful to our Lord for this site. I was drawn out of the tomb of organized religion by the illuminations of the Holy Spirit some years ago. However, the state where I reside is predominated by catholicism and a minority of catholic-protestant fusion denominations. So it is very rare to find an arena where substantive discussion on Christianity can be had. In light of what I just described I have noticed that in my state justice is equated with punishing. So forgiveness seems to have another meaning of which I cannot determine. In this state it seems like every year more and more extreme punitive actions are enacted and categories of offenses are made to be worse than others. As is always the case with religious atmospheres such as exist in my home state scriptures proclaiming “an eye for an eye…” are regurgitated routinely to validate more and more punishment. Thus, it is my observation that despite all that the scriptures illuminate to the contrary, most professed Christians who live in this state believe that God is a God of unrelenting punishment. Forgiveness seems to be something one who offends has to crawl and beg for after the offended person feels a harsh enough punishment has been suffered.Offenders need to be held accountable and experience some consequences. However, offenders do not need religion, they need to know Christ and to experience forgiveness. When I first entered prison I was handed a cross, some rosary beads, a booklet on mother Mary, and a place to write to to talk with a priest. I threw them away. I needed someone who knew how sorry I was…God knew, but I was sure He was saying, “You should of thought of that before you offended!”. In reality, God was saying,”I know, I will bring you through this.”

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    • Too many want to turn the “good news” into bad news. Grateful for His grace, too. And I know what you mean by the whole “angry God” image that people are still hanging on to. They will point to the Old Covenant to justify it. Yet, the writer of Hebrews calls Jesus “the express image of God and the exact representation of His likeness.” If we want to have an accurate picture of the Father, we look to Christ. Furthermore, in John 1 it says that “No one has ever seen (perceived, known, had a correct knowledge of) God,… but Jesus has revealed Him.” So, once again our example of who the Father truly is comes from how Christ has revealed Him… not how Moses, or Aaron, or Joshua revealed Him.

      This is where “Bible inerrancy” (according to how most conservative evangelicals define it) comes crashing down. Jesus never espoused, promoted, taught or modeled violence toward ANY person or people during His earthly life…. including His enemies. Not talking the end times or the final judgment, but we simply cannot justify the “Violent God” image when looking at Christ.

      I’ve heard the typical pat Christian answers that people have been fed through their church for the purpose of not having their theological apple cart tipped over, like “the slaughtering of various peoples at ‘God’s command” was necessary to spare the genealogical line of Christ, so He could later come on the scene.” Ok…. so we say we serve a big God, right? So then, “God” had to promote, endorse, and compel His people to commit genocide in order to fulfill His grand plan?

      When a searching soul inquires of such things and we give them this answer, can we blame them for thinking we’re totally insane and wanting to run from us and our God? Doesn’t sound much different than ISIS and the view they have of their God….

      In ancient cultures, it was standard protocol for them to attribute their victories in War and preparations for war to “God being with them.” Israel was no different. Of course, you will never hear this can of worms opened up within mainline Christian orthodoxy; the religious establishment will hold to their definition of “Bible inerrancy” to the death; they have their own selfish reasons for doing so…..

      So, in short, I personally do not believe that “God told Israel to wipe out their enemies without sparing man, woman or infant” along with other similar things. When we look to ancient cultures and their perspectives and world views… how they “perceived God,” it is not unreasonable to conclude that they routinely put God’s endorsement on their own acts of violence…. Israel being no different.

      The Old Covenant foretells of Christ, is fulfilled in Christ, and Paul says the “preeminence in all things” belongs to Christ. I look at scripture through the lens of Christ… not through the lens of Moses, or Joshua, etc… I usually don’t even get into this with very many folks because it’s too controversial for those who track in mainstream fundamentalism.

      Jesus is my example. Any ethics of Old Covenant characters that don’t match Christ’s ethic, I ignore… rather than trying to do a theological dance in order to hold onto the typical “Bible inerrancy” doctrine.

      Have no idea why I went on this rant for so long LOL, but thanks for listening and thanks again for the positive feedback.

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  3. Thanks for sharing what the Holy Spirit illuminated in your heart. I love the simplicity, “Look to Christ, see the true character of God.”. It is my sincere prayer that many professed Christians see this light.

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