No Conditions on Forgiveness
by Jon Walker
«In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.» Ephesians 1:7-8 (NIV)
You don’t have to go too far to hear people talking about forgiveness. We bandy the word around without giving it much thought, and perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised, but lately I’ve heard reporters asking questions like, «Should so-and-so be forgiven?» «Can such behavior be forgiven?» «Can you ever forgive _________?»
Even many Christians seem to see forgiveness as independent of its divine mandate, wholly separated from the blood of Jesus Christ.
Yet, the hard, awful truth is there is no forgiveness – healing and eternal forgiveness without the bloody sacrifice of Jesus. It’s similar the end of «The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,» when Aslan, supernaturally resurrected, says that there is a deep magic set into the very foundation of the universe that requires the blood of an innocent to initiate the supernatural power of resurrection – and forgiveness of sins.
Oswald Chambers says we should abandon any view that «God is so kind and loving that, of course, He will forgive us. That thought, based solely on emotion, cannot be found anywhere in the New Testament. The only basis on which God can forgive us is the tremendous tragedy of the Cross of Christ. To base our forgiveness on any other ground is unconscious blasphemy.»
And we do ‘unconscious blasphemy’ when we act and speak as if forgiveness is little more than a lenient mercy where we let another ‘off the hook.’ Because of this, many people assume that extending forgiveness somehow allows those who’ve done wrong to ‘get away’ with what they’ve done.
In «The Purpose Driven Life,» Rick Warren explains some common misperceptions about forgiveness:
· Forgiveness is unconditional – You can’t earn it; you don’t deserve it; you’re unable to bargain for it. God gives it to you freely, although it cost him the Cross of Jesus Christ. When you say, «I’ll forgive you, if …,» then you’re not really forgiving; rather, you’re striking a bargain.
· Forgiveness doesn’t mean you condone – When you forgive, you’re not letting others ‘get away’ with what they did. They may still face punishment. And forgiving them doesn’t mean you agree with what they did.
· Forgiveness doesn’t mean the relationship remains the same – It make take some time for you to trust the person again. You may need some time to see if his/her repentance is genuine, how the offender works toward offering restitution and to rebuild your trust. But you can forgive the offender regardless of his/her attitude. Just as God initiated your forgiveness, you can forgive without requiring the other person to ask for it.
· Forgiveness brings you freedom – When you forgive another, you’re free to look at the situation in a fresh way – and to see how God will makes «all things work together for good for those who love God and who are called according to His purpose.» Romans 8:28
© 2007 Jon Walker. All rights reserved.
Devocionales Cristianos www.devocionalescristianos.org