Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | August 7, 2017

Forgiveness

Law versus Grace

As one reads the New Testament it is sometimes easy to forget the major change that was taking place during the First Advent of our Lord. God’s plan for dealing with mankind through Israel was being temporarily replaced by a new plan that had been concealed from the Old Testament Prophets, a mystery plan that was yet to be revealed called the church age, the age of grace. This plan was to be revealed by the Apostles in the power of God, the Holy Spirit and began at Pentecost AD 33.

In Acts 2 verses 1-2 it is written:

On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting.Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them.”

Here we see the fulfillment of the promise given to the disciples in John 14:15-17 where it is written:

15 “If you love me, obey my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.

Later in John 16:7 the Lord tells the disciples:

 But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.”

On Pentecost, May 25, AD 33, this promise was fulfilled when the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, indwelt human beings for the first time. The world was now populated by two distinctly different classes of people; those who were indwelt by the Holy Spirit, Christians, and those who were not.

The Church Age, the age of grace had begun and the world would never again be the same; Christians had become a temple of God, the Holy Spirit!

A reasonable question at this point might be to ask: “What does this have to do with forgiveness?” That would be a fair question and I’ll attempt to address that now.

The Mosaic Law and the Age of Israel

Israel had been given a period of 490 years to accomplish the objectives set out by God but was set aside on the date of the Lord’s “Triumphal” entry into Jerusalem on March 30, AD 33, the week he was crucified. The four Gospels are actually describing the last days of the age of Israel and the Mosaic Law while the Church Age begins in Acts 2.

All this was prophesied by the Prophet Daniel who foretold the separation between the first 483 years, which are past, and the remaining 7 years which are still in the future. The gap between those two parts was a mystery called the Church Age, the age of grace which is where we are now.

Now let us pursue the earlier question; “What does this have to do with forgiveness?” In Matthew 6:14-15 it is written:

14 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

That seems to be a rather straightforward statement, wouldn’t you think but then how does that verse fit in with Romans 8:1-4 where it is written:

“8 So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.”

In what sense are we under no condemnation when our failure to forgive others results in God not forgiving our sins? Did something happen between those two verses that changed the dynamics of forgiveness? I believe the answer to that question is yes; the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ had put everything in a new perspective.

As Christians we have been given, as a free gift, the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ; when the Father sees any Christian He sees the righteousness of Jesus Christ, we have been covered by the shed blood of Christ at the moment we received Christ as Savior. Therefore there is now no condemnation for any Christian!

What about Failure to Forgive and other Sins?

As Christians we are all painfully aware of our many shortcomings and understand that we frequently fall short of the divine standard. God knew we would have that problem and provided a remedy, confession of sin. In 1 John 1:8-10 it is written:

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.

No Christian of my acquaintance seems to believe they are free of sin; I’m certainly aware of my own sinfulness before the Lord which is why I confess my sins to God on a regular basis. Salvation does not guarantee perfect behavior but it does guarantee perfect reconciliation with God.

As Christians we exist on two planes, a positional plane and an experiential plane; positionally we have been perfected by Christ, experientially we are struggling with life and sometimes failing. This is where confession of sin comes in; that, tied with God’s faithfulness, provides restoration.

While the Holy Spirit indwells us forever, the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives can be quenched by unconfessed sin; this power can be restored by our confession of sin.

Failure to forgive as we have been forgiven is sin and quenches the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives; our place in God’s family as His children is never compromised but our quality of life, our peace and joy is greatly compromised by our failure to confess our sins to God. Holding a grudge or failure to forgive, is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die. Failure to forgive someone is a sin for which Christ died on the cross; it is covered by the blood of Christ.

Take care to follow Paul’s advice in Philippians 4:4-9 where it is written:

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”


Responses

  1. I discussed this with friends a few weeks ago. Does forgiveness require reconciliation? I don’t believe so. I believe to forgive cleanses our soul. Reconciliation requires some contention by the other party. God doesn’t ask us to be punching bags for others. Some people in the group believe reconciliation to be part of forgiveness. I guess I’m not sure. Your thoughts?

    John

    >

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    • I believe that reconciliation is not a basic requirement for forgiveness. While nice, reconciliation requires a proper response on the part of both parties which is not controllable by either party alone. Circumstances will determine the practical likelihood of full reconciliation; the offended one’s responsibility toward God is satisfied when they forgive the offending party. I do believe the offending party must experience some regret for the offense and has a responsibility to the offended to apologize and ask forgiveness. If and when that happens the offended has the responsibility to forgive the offender, if that has not already taken place. At that point there is a possibility for reconciliation but not a necessity for reconciliation.

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  2. Hallelujah and amen! Thank you David for reminding us of the wonderful forgiveness we can experience daily and making it so plain and easy to understand. Blessings to you and Adele.

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