The Manifold Wisdom Of God
"... be kind to one another, tenderhearted,
forgiving one another,
just as God in Christ forgave you".
When people say, "I'm sorry", it's usually because they have affected a person, or persons, badly by actions or words, unintended or otherwise.
And, usually, trust had been violated and relationships broken.
In the best of situations a sincere apology is accepted and forgiveness is given with suitable words. Sometimes a promise no to do it again is included in the apology.
Ideally, the offence is cancelled. Normal, or the beginnings of normal, relationships can be renewed.
To forgive, then, is to verbally accept, from the heart, the sincere expression of regret and sorrow for the offence. That's human forgiveness.
Above all, Believers know God's forgiveness. It is given because He is merciful and in Christ Believers forgive others because of God's mercy to us: "... according to His mercy He saved us," Titus 3'5.
Here's a great example of His mercy:
"And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses," Colossians 2'13.
And that happened by His mercy and by His grace when Believers repented and received His Son.
Think of it, He takes unbelievers who are absolutely dead in sin and makes them absolutely alive in Christ's righteousness. Hallelujah!
(For more about forgiveness click Kingdom Praying 1&2 on the Menu.)
FAITHFUL AND JUST
Believers are told that God's forgiveness is always available to cleanse - completely:
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness," 1 John 1'9.
Where does unrighteousness come in relation to sin? 1 John 5'17 says that "All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death"
It would seem that unrighteousness is the kind of sin that Believers commit when they do something against the will of God.
Although it is not sinful it is not righteous, that is, right before God. Therefore, it "is not leading to death".
The faithfulness and justice of God assure Believers when they need to go to the Throne of Grace for spiritual cleansing.
There is no sin or unrighteous act that can bar a Believer from going to the Father for forgiveness in Jesus' name.
To emphasise the position, "... if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous," 1 John 2'1.
Although the devil himself might say otherwise, although he may try to deceive, he does not have the authority to stop a Believer.
God's mercy is always available and His grace is sufficient. Confess, repent, ask, and He will forgive.
Forgiving involves one of the major characteristics of the Lord, which is godliness. He demonstrated it continually.
That's because Jesus was always aware of the presence of His heavenly Father. And He lived accordingly. That's Kingdom Godliness.
And His Called-Out Ones are to be "being aware". And it comes by the Holy Spirit. Galatians 4'6 says:
"And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”
The name "Abba" Father speaks of expressing child-like love and trust combined with the understanding that God is Father.
Being aware in this manner, by the Holy Spirit, changes behaviour. Sinning against, being sinned against, forgiving and being forgiven are different.
This is because it is He who gives represents Jesus and the Father, so Paul says:
"... do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.
And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.
Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.
And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.
For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
Therefore do not be partakers with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light," Ephesians 4'30-5'1-8.
"If we walk in the light as He is in the light,
we have fellowship with one another,
and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son
cleanses us from all sin," 1 John 1'7.
(For more see Kingdom Godliness on the Menu.)
As has been said earlier, forgiving someone can be a big challenge. In Matthew chapter 18 Jesus says more to illustrate His teaching.
He starts by telling His Disciples:
"... if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother," v.15.
That's so well and good. But Peter has a few "what ifs" and wants to know more and later asks:
"...'Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?
"Jesus said to him:
'I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven'," verses 21-22.
And He gave an illustration in verses 23-34:
"... the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants".
This is about a servant who was unable to repay an enormous debt he owed his master. So he pleaded with him.
His master, "moved with compassion, released him and forgave him the debt".
Then this same servant decided to call in a small debt owed to him by another servant who was unable to pay and who pleaded with him.
But there was no compassion or forgiveness or generosity of heart forthcoming from the servant even though he had been forgiven so much.
Perhaps he didn't realise it, but there were witnesses:
"So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved and came and told their master all that had been done". v31.
But the same master who had been "moved with compassion":
"... delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him". v35.
Jesus ended His illustration with this warning:
"So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses," v.35.
The point is, there is only one course of action left open to our Father regarding His Servants who willingly refuse to forgive: Let Satan have them!
The state of being forgiving brings benefits for Believers in spirit, soul and body through knowing that God's forgiveness is absolute.
However, as Jesus says there's is an impasse, because if Believers withhold forgiveness from others our heavenly Father withold forgiveness from them.
Going to God for forgiveness is not an uncommon thing. But do Believers examine themselves before asking?
Jesus emphasised the attitude, "forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors".
Obviously Jesus wanted His People to think this way, so He explained it more fully at the end of His teaching on the manner of praying.
"... if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matthew 6'14-15).
At the Lord's Supper Believers are called to think about this:
"... let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
For he who eats and drinks unworthily eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.
For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.
But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world," 1 Corinthians 11'28-32.
This point alone makes a person unworthy to partake. Of course, often this has to be a dispostion because forgiveness can only be given when the one who has committed the offence asks.
Amazingly, the Lord leaves us the privilege, and the blessing, of judging ourselves.
Although there are other reasons for Believers to examine themselves, forgiving can be the most challenging, especially if the offender is someone close.
And the requirement to forgive can seem unreasonable because of the harm the other person has inflicted.
But by putting this condition in place, the Lord shows that He is aware of how serious the personal consequences are - not to mention the wider ill-effects.
"Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
just as God in Christ forgave you," Ephesians 4'32.
“Freely you have received, freely give," Matthew 10'8 .
NOT MY WILL BUT YOURS
Foremost in the Lord's life was His disposition in wanting the Father's name to be hallowed and glorified.
Whatever the choice or the decision His disposition was: "Father ... not my will, but Yours, be done" (Luke 22'42).
Peter reminds us:
"For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps," 1 Peter 2'21.
And Paul adds this reminder of the power that is available:
"... all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen,
to the glory of God through us," 1 Corinthians 1'20.
Prayer. Heavenly Father, thank you for Kingdom freedom and free access to you. Thank you, too, for the example of the Lord's own manner of life in every thing. Amen.