The One True God is the God of Forgiveness
by Gini Crawford, MSW
God gives us undeserved forgiveness. To forgive means to not keep account of wrongs, to send forth or away the wrong, and to let go from oneself. Forgiving also has the idea of treating the offending person graciously, with kindness, love. (1 Corinthians 13:5, Ephesians 4:32). God's forgiveness removes our sins from us; liberating us from sins' guilt and power. Only God can literally remove sins from a person, but you can still forgive or let go of the wrong against you from another person.
...But You are a God of forgiveness, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness; and You did not forsake them. Nehemiah 9:17 NASB®
Forgiveness comes through Jesus Christ
We gain God's undeserved forgiveness through the death of Jesus. His sacrifice on the cross satisfied God's just anger over our sins, so that we could have our sins completely forgiven. God's forgiveness demonstrates to us His love instead of His wrath (Romans 5:8-10). Where would we be if God didn't forgive us?
To know Jesus is to know God's forgiveness. This is because God's forgiveness is only given to you through belief in Jesus.
...that through His name (Jesus) everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins. / In Him (Jesus) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. Acts 10:43; Ephesians 1:7 NASB®
God gave the ultimate sacrifice to forgive us - His Son. Would you sacrifice your son so a person could be forgiven? I would not, but God did. God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for us. This act of love positively shows us God is determined to forgive us.
...If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? ...But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39 NASB®
God's forgiveness takes away the guilty verdict and the eternal punishment that sin brings to us, and makes us righteous; and enables us to have a relationship with Him.
God's never-ending forgiveness
God's Word says our sins are completely removed from us when we believe in Jesus; they are remembered no more by Him. We could say, because of Jesus our sins are thrown into the depths of the sea never to be fished for again.
... Yes, You will cast all their sins, into the depths of the sea. / ... For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more... / As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Micah 7:19b; Hebrews 8:12; Psalm 103:12 NASB®
God also forgives us throughout our lives. In reality because of Jesus' payment for our sins, we live in God's forgiveness. When we sin as Christians, it does affect our relationship with God, but never our eternity. Our relationship with God can be immediately fixed by confessing our sin to Him (1 John 1:9). Your father, aunt, friend, and boss may not forgive you, maybe never, but God always will. When God says He will forgive you, you can believe Him, because He died to forgive you.
Some people think if they forgive someone, they are saying that what the person did was acceptable. That is not what forgiveness means. When you forgive someone, you make the choice to give up your desire to get back at the person, and to let go of your anger towards the person. You also stop judging the person who caused you the hurt. Instead of revenge, anger, and judgment, you show grace and kindness. (Romans 12:17-21). In other words, the guilty person may not deserve forgiveness, but it's an act of kindness and love on your part to forgive (Ephesians 4:32). When you forgive, you are not condoning the person's sinful action, but you are letting it go from yourself. When you forgive someone, it doesn't mean the person won't experience the consequences from their behavior.
A friend of mine in graduate school told me she grew up in a Christian family that was very unforgiving. In her teenage years her father and mother divorced. Then when she was in her forties, and near a divorce herself; she and her husband went to a marriage counselor. The counselor listened to both their perspectives on the marriage and then said, "The main problem in your marriage is both of you are conditional in forgiving the other." My friend said, "This comment shocked her, because she thought you should only forgive if the person deserved it." The counselor gave them a Bible study on forgiving. My friend told me the study changed her marriage, and her outlook on forgiving. When I met her, she was caring for her mother. My friend said to me, "My mother still isn't particularly patient and forgiving. Please pray for me to love and forgive my mom God's way." Can you relate to my friend's life?
How does knowing God is the God of forgiveness impact your life? It took away my feelings of guilt that I was raised under. God's forgiveness is healing, isn't it?
Don't misunderstand forgiveness
How do you forgive? Do you forgive like God? Or does a person need to live up to your standards to be forgiven? If God didn't give us undeserved forgiveness, we would stay dead in our sins, because God's standard is perfect holiness. (Isaiah 6:3-7). Remember, God forgave you when you were His enemy. God tells us to forgive others as He has forgiven us. Read Psalm 86:5, 130:1-4; Luke 6:35-38, 11:1-4.
Explain forgiveness from these passages.
On occasion do you feel God just can't forgive you? When we feel this way, I believe what we are probably thinking is we can be right before God by our own good works. In other words, by doing what you think a good person should be doing such as telling the truth, being kind to your nasty neighbor, and so on. God does like it when you do good; but the real problem is, you can never do enough good works to live up to God's perfect holy standard. This is because to use a computer term, we have a nature that defaults to sin sooner or later. Read Psalm 143:1-2; Romans 3:9-18, 23; James 2:10.
Jesus did something we could never do, He fulfilled God's perfect standard of holiness for us: He was born a Jew, which meant He lived under the Old Testament laws (good works) His entire life but never broke even one of them. He died for our disobedient acts toward God, not His own. In dying for our sins He fully paid off our debt to God from those sins. So let's not forget - we are forgiven because of Jesus and His sacrificial work, not from anything we have done, whether bad or good. Read Isaiah 53:4-6; Romans 3:22-24, 8:1-2; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 2:13-14; 1 John 3:5.
Why can you know you are forgiven by God?
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