Transformation through Forgiveness

The subject of forgiveness is a touchy one for most people.  I freely admit that I am most people.  The idea of forgiving someone when they have wronged me, or repeatedly wronged me, is displeasing.  Or, should I say it is displeasing to my fleshly nature?

Why does God require us to extend forgiveness to those who have offended us?  Is He simply wanting us to let wrongdoing go and let the offender off the hook?  Through study and my own experience, I can confidently assure you that is not case.  God requires us to extend forgiveness for our own benefit.

Forgiveness from God

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Quite simply, God has forgiven us a great sin debt.  This was accomplished when Jesus was crucified and died.  Our new life came through His resurrection.  By nature, we are sinners.  No matter how hard we try or how good we are, we are unable to atone for our sins.  Jesus paid a great price to free us from our sinful nature.

God freely gave us His forgiveness.  Once we accept what Jesus did as the atoning sacrifice for our sins, we become born again.  When we sin, we go to the Father, through Jesus Christ, to receive forgiveness.  We did not deserve this grace and mercy, but He freely gave it.

Forgiving Others

Because of the forgiveness we have received, we must forgive others when they sin against us.  Refusing to forgive puts a barrier between us and God.  It also opens us up to being ruled by other sins such as malice, unbridled anger, gossip, and many others.  We become obsessed with getting revenge which can be dangerous to us and others.

Forgiving others does not mean that the offense was not wrong.  It does not mean that is is okay that you were hurt.  It simply means that you release the offense to God giving Him the right to take care of it.  Trust me, God knows how to deal with other people.  Once you have released the offense (an act you might have to repeat several times), you will find that you have joy and peace.  You will realize that the offense was weighing you down.

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Forgiving Yourself

Often, the person I have needed to forgive is myself.  You might find the same is true in your case.  When I keep falling into the same sin over and over, I begin to become self-condemning.  Unfortunately, this is not productive.  What is productive is bringing myself to the throne of grace, pouring my heart out in repentance to the Father.  His Word promises that He will cleanse us of our sins when we go to Him.

Once you have repented, leave condemnation alone.  If you try to carry it, you will be of no use to the kingdom of God.  It is not humility.  It is a selfish focus on yourself and an insult to the blood of Jesus.  Whether you realize it or not, you are saying the blood of Jesus is not enough when you walk in condemnation.  We do not need to do penance.  We simply need to repent and allow the Holy Spirit to transform us.

So, How about Forgiving?

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Are you struggling to forgive someone who has done a great wrong to you?  Are you struggling to forgive yourself?  Bring that hurt to the Lord.  He is able to take it and make you new again.

Refusing forgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping your enemy will die.  It is dangerous, and it is heavy.  You will feel much lighter when you let go of the offense and allow God to take vengeance.  Forgiveness, whether being given or received, brings transformation.

Mercy Seat

I don’t know about you, but I need God’s mercy every day.  For the past week, I have been reading in the book of Hebrews.  Throughout several chapters, the Old Testament priesthood is compared with the priesthood of Jesus Christ.  I will share with you some portions of what I read.

Behind the Veil

In the Old Testament, the mercy seat was located inside the most holy place of the temple behind a veil, or curtain.  No one could enter certain places of the temple except for the priests.  The priests, who were from the tribe of Levi, made sacrifices and atonement for the peoples’ sins.

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The mercy seat was surrounded by cherubim.  In Hebrews 9:5, the writer speaks of the glory overshadowing the mercy seat.  The writer goes on to say that he could not speak in detail of the things concerning the mercy seat and the holy place.  I find that statement compelling.  Of course, he was most likely referring to the magnificence of the tabernacle, yet, we can take his words to heart because it is often difficult to express the details of our gratitude to Jesus for what He accomplished at the cross.

The Veil Torn

When Jesus died on the cross, the veil to the most holy place was torn, not by human hands, but by the power of God.  Jesus Christ was the perfect sacrifice, the complete atonement for our sins.  The veil was torn because we were no longer restricted from an intimate relationship with God, the Father.  People no longer had to go to a human priest to be absolved of sin.  After the cross, people could go directly to the Father through Jesus Christ.

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Unfortunately, it seems a veil is still up for some people.  It is not because God does not love them.  It is because they have not accepted Jesus Christ, God’s Son, as the atoning sacrifice for their sins and the only way to God, the Father.  Once you accept Jesus for who He is and follow Him wholeheartedly, you have direct access to the mercy seat.

Receive His Mercy

God’s mercy is available to everyone, but it requires a personal choice.  He forces nothing on you.  Each person must choose Jesus.  Each person must come running to the mercy seat, so to speak.

I know and love Jesus, but I still must come running to the mercy seat.  I need His mercy daily.  No, I do not intentionally sin, but I will fall short of His glory.  You will too.  That’s where mercy comes in.  Am I suggesting that you can be careless and reckless in your sin without consequence?  Certainly not!  However, I am suggesting that when you do surrender to Jesus, you will be changed forever, not perfect, but changed.  Then, you will be humbled by His wonderful mercy, and you will not take it for granted.

What about you?  Have you accepted the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ?  If not, you can do that now.