SUBJECT – A LOOK AT FORGIVENESS, GOD'S WAY!!!
The message for this month, has to do with the main characteristic of God, by which man can, once again be seen, and treated by God, as being Righteous.
If it were not for this one characteristic, there would be no message that could be considered as the Gospel [Good News]. Our existence on this earth, if we were allowed to exist at all, would be one of total misery, and despair because there would be nothing good for us to enjoy.
Salvation, deliverance, healing, joy, peace, mercy, grace, and all the other things that make up the good news [the Gospel], stem from the fact that God, was willing to forgive mankind, for what Adam did in the Garden of Eden, when he sinned against Him.
After God had warned him what would happen if he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam chose to listen to Eve,
who was the first one to disobey God, and ate of the fruit of the tree, thus plunging all mankind, and all creation, for that matter, in to the darkness of God's wrath.
When we consider just who God is, and the Power He wields, over all things, then it stands to reason that if He chose not to forgive us, then, quite frankly there isn't anything we can do to get out from under it.
The mere fact that God didn't wipe Adam and Eve out, after they did this thing, shows that He possessed something that would set the stage for mankind to be brought back in to the position he had with Him, before the offense occurred.
Forgiveness is the act of not only excusing someone for what they did to offend you, but, and this is a big one, to treat them as if they had never done it in the first place.
If we look at the Gospel, it relays that very idea to us.
God, was not only willing to forgive us, but to completely wipe any memory of our sins, from His memory. Heb 8:12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
The significance of this one act, shows just how great, Our God is. He set the example of what forgiveness, is really all about.
If you and I, were to review our lives, I would dare say, there have been times when someone has done something to us, that caused us to be angry at them and wanting to get even with them for what they did.
However, whether I got the chance to do it, or not, made little difference to me, because, I would always treat that person as if they had done the same thing to me, every day. It was stuck in my memory, and as a result, I would stop speaking to them. If they asked me for help, I would turn them down. As far as I was concerned, they were 'persona non grata' to me. I didn't want to have anything to do with them.
Now, before I was saved, that would have been a good way to deal with those that had wronged me.
However, now that I am saved, Christ has told me, and every one else that names Him as their Lord and Savior, that we must put that type of mentality behind us, and adopt the position of the Father, when it comes to those that have, in the past, and still may do today, offend, or even persecute us.
As a believer in Christ, we must take His approach to every situation that we face, no matter how it appears to us.
Many times we may feel justified, based on just what the person did to us, but, we have to remember, that is nothing compared to what we did to the Father.
We put Him in the position of not only having to forgive us, but He had to sacrifice His only begotten Son, to complete the Total Act of Forgiveness, that He had planned.
He had other options available to use, but, none of them would meet His standards.
Seeing that He is a Holy God, then He could have just wiped Adam and Eve out, and given up on making someone in His image, to fellowship with. Had He done that, then none of us, would even be here.
Another thing He could have done, was to wipe them out, and created a new couple to start populating the earth. However, He knew that just like Adam and Eve, this couple would eventually end up doing pretty much the exact same thing. So, what would be the point of starting over?? Things would end up the same way.
Another thing He could have done, and I gave some hint of it earlier, was to allow man to continue to exist, without His intervening in their lives, and let them literally destroy themselves. After all, it was His curse, that was doing it.
What with the wars, killings, famines, sicknesses and diseases just to name a few, mankind was doomed to have a totally miserable existence on this earth, then die, only to find himself in hell. All deserved, mind you, and God would have been justified in it.
But, He looked at man, and saw something worth saving. He saw Himself in us, because we were made in His image, and even though, at times, He bemoand the fact that He had made us in the first place, He followed through with His plan to make the way for us to return to the position we had with Him, before sin entered in to the picture.
In other words, He wiped the slate clean.
Taking a look at it from this perspective, I see that since I am now His child, not only made in His image, but have His mind, and Spirit in me, then, I likewise have to look at all individuals with the same eye that the Father has, and see them as He saw me, when I was busy offending Him 24/7.
I have to see them as being made in His image, and worthy of not only being forgiven, but to completely wipe the slate clean when it comes to whatever they have done to offend me.
Many will say, that is impossible to do because that would mean people would be able to literally get away with murder, rape, and other crimes and we would have chaos in the streets.
Well, it is not that people should not have to suffer for their wrongdoings, as much as that there should be a way of reconciliation, after the punishment is over.
After all, what is punishment for in the first place??? It is to make the person suffer some sort of pain, or confinement, for what they have done. Well, after they have suffered this punishment, then why should they then be subjected to more punishment at the hands of the same ones that they offended??? Do you see my point??
As I mentioned earlier, if God treated us like that, then, where is the Grace and Mercy, or the Gospel message??
If we were to look at the bible, in total, talking about all 66 books/letters, we would find the complete foundation of what God wants and expects from us.
He addresses the totality of how man should conduct himself in all things, including righteousness, sin and punishment.
There are times when because of a certain person's behavior, the punishment should be, that they are put to death. Why?? Because, the nature of the individual is such that they are more likely to commit the exact same offense, more readily again.
However, in this, God's forgiveness is still there for them.
Many say that capital punishment is cruel, but, though necessary, it still offers God's Grace to the condemned, because it brings them to the realization that barring anything outside of their own control, they will die, on a certain date, at a certain time. That realization gives them the opportunity to get right with God, so that they can enter in to Heaven, when they die. That is something that those of us that are out here not facing that situation, are in danger of, talking about dying without knowing when it will happen, and being without God's forgiveness.
Now, is God's forgiveness automatic?? Is it just heaped on us, without us having to do anything?? The answer is no!!
In order for us to obtain His forgiveness, we have to ask for it. In order to do that, we have to admit/confess our sins to Him, and make an honest attempt, to turn away from doing it/them again.
In the old testament, that was done through the process of offering sacrifices to God through the blood of animals and the like.
Today, those sacrifices have been replaced by One Blood Sacrifice, and that is the Blood of Christ, God's only begotten Son!! All one has to do is ask to have their sins covered by the Blood of Jesus, and God will not see them, anymore.
In like manner, our forgiveness of a person that has offended us, should be along those same lines. If they are willing to admit that they have wronged us, and apologized, then we are to restore them back to the position they had with us before the offense occurred.
This idea of saying 'I forgive them, but I don't want anything to do with them',
is the same as saying, you will continue to punish them, as if they committed an offense that is worthy of their being punished for life, or put to death.
If it was something criminal, and they have been put in jail/prison, and served their time, then, that should be the end of it.
A lot of the problems we have with what are called repeat offenders, is that when they get out prison, they can't get a productive place in society because of what is in their records. So, the only thing left for them to do, is either find some way to start their own business, so that they can survive, or go back to doing what they did that got them in trouble in the first place.
What if God did us like this?? And mind you again, we are guilty of a lot worse. Yet, He chooses to completely forgive us.
The other thing is, by your refusing to completely forgive this person, you are then, putting yourself in the position of sinning against God, where you have to repent. And mind you, that means making a sincere and honest attempt to turn away from that behavior. That means you will have to go to the person you refused to forgive, and ask them to forgive you. If you don't forgive others, God won't forgive you [Mat. 6:15]. Now ain't that a kick in the face??
All of this, makes absolutely no sense to those that are outside of Christ. It seems like total foolishness. But, once again, this message is not for them, it is for those that name the name of Christ, and who He has called to be the bearers of the Gospel, and to represent Him to the world by letting them know, that if we can completely forgive, and forget, what someone has done to us, then they can possibly see a God, that 'will', forget about their past, if they come to Him!!
Now, isn't that what God really wants???