Sunday, July 17, 2016
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32 KJV).
What is true forgiveness?
At a Bible conference, I overheard a man talking with one of my pastor friends. Steeped in denominationalism, he was chiefly confused about whether God had forgiven him. He struggled with the so-called “Lord’s Prayer” (“Our Father” Prayer). Specifically, Matthew chapter 6: “ For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” The poor man needed to “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). The “Our Father” Prayer was spoken to Israel (Matthew 15:24)—not us Gentiles (Matthew 10:5-7)!
God’s spokesman to us, the Apostle Paul, on this side of the Cross, tells us God has forgiven us all our sins. We do not have to beg or wonder! In Christ, forgiveness is total, free, and forever. He forgave us because of what Jesus Christ did at Calvary, not because of our religious performance (today’s Scripture). We are already forgiven in Christ. As God forgave us, we forgive others. Lost people will have their sins taken care of at two places—the cross of Christ if they trust Christ before physical death, or eternal hellfire if they do not trust Christ before physical death.
One of Satan’s schemes to destroy the local assembly is when Christians do not forgive each other as God for Christ’s sake has (past tense) forgiven them. Second Corinthians chapter 2 warns about bitterness: “ To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;  Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.”
Forgiveness is not pretending like nothing happened. You have been wronged, and God punished Jesus Christ for that sin. Forgiveness is sending the shame, guilt, and pain to Jesus Christ’s cross (where God dealt with our sins). We need not keep dredging up the past, beloved. We learn from our mistakes, and are thankful Jesus Christ has already provided our forgiveness forever! 🙂