Is forgiveness really a big deal? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
For those who don’t know, my wife Allie is blogging now. One of her recent blog posts can be found here. It was what she wrote yesterday on the topic of forgiveness and I figured that was something I could write on from my more apologetic perspective, and I did indeed comment on her blog to give her a brief inkling of my own thoughts on the matter.
Now I have said the Gospel is not all about forgiveness, but forgiveness is certainly a large part of it. The Gospel is first about God being king through Christ and forgiveness is the means God provides to get on the right side of Jesus. Forgiveness is God saying that He is cancelling the social debt between the two of you. You can be in a right relationship with Him again. It does not mean the consequences are removed. It does not even mean there can be no punishment given. Both of those could be removed, but forgiveness does not necessitate that that happen. (This is a problem with the shooting in South Carolina recently. People thought forgiving the killer would mean he would not go to jail or face any penalties. It didn’t.)
As we talked about it last night (After all, what couple doesn’t have theological discussion for their pillow talk), I pointed out that if we do not have our lives defined by joy, perhaps we are not really figuring out what forgiveness is. Perhaps we are taking it for granted. How many of us have ever said “Even if this is wrong, it’s a little sin after all so it’s really no big deal.” Sadly, I know I’ve said that, and it needs to stop. Chances are you have as well. Now I’m not at all saying that every sin is equal. I do think some sins are worse than others. I am saying that all sin is still serious.
When we come to God, we should realize God has the right to judge us. He has the power to judge us. He has the knowledge to know He’s right in His judgment. He has the holiness to say He is not being a hypocrite at all and is guilty of no wrong Himself. He has the omnipresence to know and be there for every sin we commit. Look. There’s no way of pulling a fast one over on Him. Any excuse you could have, He knows it already and He knows the ones you don’t even know about. You’re not going to be able to change His mind on anything because nothing is beyond His knowledge.
You’re in a tight spot with God and the penalty is severe. Eternal removal from His presence is no light matter.
And yet, God pronounces you forgiven because you simply ask for it and seek to live differently. You don’t have to do some grand feat. He already did the grand feat. Now let’s take all that you’ve heard above about the nature of God and realize this, this God who can do everything to you and would be entirely right in doing so has chosen to not only forgive you, but then in turn to give you an eternal blessing.
This is really hard for us to grasp because everything we do, we do with mixed motives. For instance, I would like every motive with my own wife to be pure, but I am sure I can do many things because there is a large part of me looking for what I could get in the bedroom later on for it. Now in my case, what I tell guys who wrestle with that is to do the right thing anyway and pray that God will help you to purify your motives. Chances are you will not reach 100% purification and husbands and wives need to realize that as much as we want to serve one another, we will in some ways end up seeking to please ourselves too.
God is not like that.
God never treats you as an object to His own end as the exclusion of your humanity. His forgiveness is total and let’s remember how great it is. If you commit the same sin several times a day and sincerely ask forgiveness and seek to change, God will forgive you. Consider also this in Romans 4:5
However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.
God who justifies the ungodly….
Yes. The one who is wicked is said to be made righteous in His sight.
Now the question we have to ask is how should we live our lives? If we do not live our lives as lives of joy we have to ask some things. Do we see our sins as minor and thus no big deal to forgive them? Do we see the justice of God as no big deal to violate? Do we see the guarantee of being in His presence for eternity as no big deal? Or is it some combination thereof and possibly other facts I have not considered? Where are we lacking.
Then we think about our evangelism. One show I’ve come to like lately is “Fool Us.” I can enjoy magic and Penn and Teller being atheists doesn’t bother me. It’s still entertaining, although I still wonder at the end “How the heck did those people do that trick?” While I think Penn Jillette is wrong on many things, I have to agree with his words here. How much do you have to hate someone to be a Christian and not tell them about Jesus?
Am I being indicted on this? Yep. Sure am.
And maybe it’s because like you, I need to step back and realize what forgiveness is. Perhaps I need to consider Luke 7.
“47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
Do we really realize how much we’ve been forgiven?