March 10, 2017

No grudges, no retaliations

Many years ago, a person sinned against me. After an inner battle with my pain, a desire to retaliate, and all sorts of anger, I finally asked God why I should forgive this person. This is the verse He gave me:

“I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” (Isaiah 43:25)

God forgives for His own sake. He is a forgiving God and it is against His nature to hold grudges and be angry forever. Of course the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross is His grounds for forgiveness. Jesus paid the price for all sin, including the severe sin committed against me. I knew that at the time, but only when He challenged me to do it like He did it — “for my own sake” — did forgiveness become acceptable.

Forgiveness does not change the fact of a sin, only its power to sever my relationship with God (and with others). Forgiveness isn’t about forgetting it either; God is the only one that can do that. Instead, forgiveness is choosing to not hold that sin against the person who did it. Through forgiving that person, I realized that forgiveness also changes my heart and makes it more like the heart of God.

In the beginning, God declared that those who sinned would die. Death equals separation, and sinners were separated from God. He determined to accept a sacrifice on their behalf and a sacrificial system was established until the Lamb of God would make it obsolete. These sacrifices were “a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins. But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”

When Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.”

He also said, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (offered according to the law) . . . “Behold, I have come to do your will.”

“Jesus did away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all . . .  He sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

“And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” (Hebrews 10:1–17)

God knows when I sin, but in so far as the law and justice of God are concerned our sins do not exist. The blood of Christ has blotted them out, washed them away and removed them from us: ‘As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us’ (Psalm 103:12).

God treats me with great grace, sin or no sin. He never requires payment for them for Christ has already wiped them from His records. When I stand before Him, He will not bring them up and throw them in my face. When He hands out heavenly rewards my sin will not ruin this event because in Christ all of what is His will be mine.

Oh, dear Lord Jesus, Your forgiveness is not about my deservedness. It is about Your great and gracious heart. How could I be angry and hold grudges against anyone when You have been so incredible gracious to me? You have promised to transform me into Your likeness — including the ability to forgive others, not just for the restoring of relationships but also that I can become more like You.

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