Archive for the ‘Forgiveness’ Category

Forgiven

January 19, 2012

Do you remember these words Jesus spoke from the cross?

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

These are stunning words. The ancient text suggests that Jesus might have uttered these words several times. Imagine him asking the Father to forgive evil men each time they drove another nail into his hands and feet.

If that isn’t amazing enough, these words also fulfilled Old Testament prophecy. Isaiah 53:12 makes the following Messianic prediction, “For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

Centuries before cruel malefactors drove nails into the hands and feet of Jesus and hoisted him upon a cross between earth and heaven, their forgiveness was foretold. Amazingly, the scribes and Pharisees were too busy scheming and plotting against Jesus to read the Isaiah scroll and make the connection between him and the Messianic prophecies.

The fact that Jesus forgives us is one thing. The extent of God’s forgiveness is even more amazing. Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

The mix of geography and theology is powerful. Unlike when we travel north or south and bump into either pole, there’s no limit to how far we can travel either east or west. Therefore, the distance between east and west is infinite. When God forgives, he separates us from our sins so that we’ll never bump into them again.

He also doesn’t remember our sins.

“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” (Isa. 43:25; Heb. 8:12, 10:17).

How can God who knows all things not remember our sins? He chooses not to remember. He won’t bring them up again. This is why, when you read about great people of faith in Hebrews 11 like Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David and others, there’s no mention of their sins, even though they were great sinners.

It’s impossible to forgive and forget. But, like God, we can do better than that. We, too, can choose not to remember the wrongs people have done to us.

Now here’s how all of this can change your life. Because God forgives us so completely, we don’t have to wallow in the past. No more beating ourselves up about the mistakes we’ve made. We have permission to forget what God has forgotten. Does that mean we shouldn’t take sin seriously? On the contrary, because God has gone to such great lengths to purchase our redemption and forgive us, we should show our gratitude by our obedience to his word.

Words of Forgiveness

February 13, 2011

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34

The three most amazing words that Jesus spoke from the cross are “Father, forgive them.” Did you know his words fulfilled Old Testament prophecy? Isaiah 53:12 makes the following Messianic prediction. “For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

Centuries before cruel malefactors drove nails into the hands and feet of Jesus and hoisted him upon a cross between earth and heaven, their forgiveness was foretold. Amazingly, the scribes and Pharisees were too busy scheming and plotting against Jesus to read the Isaiah scroll and make the connection between him and the Messianic prophecies.

Jesus also practiced what he preached about forgiveness. In his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught us to pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” A couple of verses later he says, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matt. 6:12, 14-15).

This does not mean that God’s forgiveness depends on our ability to forgive others. No, we cannot earn God’s forgiveness. But it does suggest that we are in no position to ask for God’s forgiveness if we harbor an unforgiving spirit in our own hearts.  

Peter once asked Jesus, “‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times’” (Matt. 18:21-22). Unlike the Pharisees, Jesus put no limits on forgiveness.

How can we forgive others who have wronged us? Bitter feelings are real and hard to cleanse from our hearts. It’s easier to live by the old motto, “Don’t get mad. Get even!” While it might be easier to live that way, it’s also more toxic. Someone once compared holding a grudge to drinking battery acid and hoping that it hurts the other person.

The only way I know to forgive the way Jesus did, to live the way he taught us to live, is to leave room for God’s wrath. In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul writes, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:19-21).

Nemesis, the goddess of revenge and retribution, was among the many deities the Romans worshipped during the reign of Tiberius Caesar (Acts 28:1-6). Jesus’s gracious words of forgiveness from the cross were in direct contrast to the pagan ideologies of the day.

Ron Jones is a pastor whose greatest passion is to introduce people to Jesus Christ through anointed biblical preaching that transforms lives.

 

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