What is the meaning of forgiveness?
God's promise, our part and the warning given to us.

acts 5.30 “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. 31 “Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

We understand that the Jews gave Jesus to the Romans to crucify. This was fore ordained by the grace of God to make forgiveness of sins possible to all mankind. Jesus is now Prince and Saviour. We have previously covered repentance yet I would have you look at the above verse. It is God the Father that gives Jesus the pre eminence over all things by exalting Him to His right hand. It is God the Father himself that makes repentance even possible in the heart of man through the working of the Holy Spirit. Tied to this repentance is the forgiveness of sins.

We have certainly committed offences against others. In the end though the bottom line is: Psalm 51.4 Against You, You only, have I sinned,  And done this evil in Your sight—

Do you know that when Adam sinned in the garden of Eden his sin caused a rift between God and mankind. We were at that time separated from God the Father and could no longer could enjoy His company. We could no longer approach the Holy of Holies in the heavenly places in spirit where His presence occupied the seat of His throne. Fortunately the Word of God who became Jesus was not separated from us. He appeared many times in the past to inform and guide men to the place of forgiveness. It was the task of the Word of God to make reconciliation for our sins by being the sacrifice for sins. Praise God that He has done this.

The Word of God was aided in this task by the Holy Spirit of God who would lead, teach, empower men and women to bring them to a place where the knowledge of His forgiveness could be known and acquired. All this so that the rift between man and God the Father could be healed and we could  once again have fellowship with Him and worship Him in spirit and truth for who He is.

Here is the question that all men and women should ask: ps 130.3 If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?

We already know the answer to that question for the scriptures say that all have sinned and all have fallen short of the glory of God. Every human being upon the face of the earth is either guilty of their own sin and / or are guilty through association because we are the children of Adam. Thank God that Jesus paid for Adam's sin, his rebellion, which is the sin of the world. Yet we still need to deal with the sins committed by us as individuals.

We are all sinners: psalm 51.4 But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared.

Why is it that Christians forget to fear God? Some will answer that perfect love casts out all fear. This is true. Yet will you know that the fear He is talking about is respect for who He is. When you forget to fear fire you become careless and it is then that you will be burned. The holy fire of His presence is also a flame that can burn. When we forget to respect His presence we get careless with the things of God and He will not hold us blameless for our actions. The good news though is that when we do make mistakes He is just to forgive us our iniquities, our sins, our errors. That is... if we are walking in a life of repentance.

Repentance means very little if there is no forgiveness. It is wonderful that you have come to the point of acknowledging your sin. That you confess that Jesus is Lord. That you have turned from living your life your way and are now learning to understand and do things God's way. Yet without forgiveness what would be the point?

Forgiveness is the key that opens the door to the kingdom of God.

You have done all the previous steps yet one thing remains. Will you ask God to forgive you? This question is as valid for the one just about to enter the kingdom as for those who have been walking in His kingdom for years... for decades. As repentance is an ongoing work of the heart and mind so is the work of forgiveness. Those on the road to glory by grace through faith are held in the hands of God to bring the work of a changing life to its completion. As with Paul so with us... we run the race. The good news is that God Himself will finish the work at our resurrection.

But you must ask: matt 6.12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.

Ah, the Lord's prayer. We have all said it at one time or another in our lives. Many say this prayer multiple times during the day. Do you really understand what it is that you are saying though? Forgive us our debts AS we forgive our debtors. When Jesus gave this prayer to His disciples He was telling them of a principle too often missed by many.

The principle is: matt 6.14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 “But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

This is a conditional statement. One of the If... Then statements throughout the bible. If you forgive others... then God will forgive you. If you don't forgive others... then God won't forgive you.

With every transgression, sin, mistake, error; there are consequences. Again, repenting from doing things your way to do things God's way is very good but you need to turn the key of forgiveness or you will not be able to enter. In life all the consequences of sin bear fruit with broken marriages, broken fellowship, broken churches and a broken world, because of the abuses of sin toward others and their abuses towards you. You sin you pay a price. Someone sins against you, they pay a price. We all sin against God, we all pay a price. To re enter fellowship forgiveness of the debt needs to be done. Without forgiveness, the debt of sin will continually be between the transgressor and the one harmed.

You have repented... then learn to do what God has done. You ask God to pay the price for your sins and He bears the loss. Someone asks you to pay the price for their sins against you then you bear the loss. This is forgiveness. If God does not ask us to make good the cost of our mistakes why do you think you can ask others to make good the cost? Forgiveness that rests on someone making good what was lost is not God's way. God's way is to take the debt, the stumbling block out of the way so that fellowship can begin anew. You too need to take the sin against you, the stumbling block, out of the way so that the offender can return and have fellowship with you. As a Christian it is up to you to pay whatever the price for your brother's reconciliation. It starts with a heart that forgives.

You see, God did not wait for you to repent before He paid the price... He paid the price and then sought you out to tell you about it. He did not wait for you to come to Him... on the contrary, He was out drawing you to Him. He opens His arms and says "come walk with me" and in the same way you need to open your arms and tell the one who harmed you to come walk with you once again. Then if your brother truly repents he will ask for forgiveness. It is your duty and should be your hearts desire then to forgive him.

Do not be fooled by those who ask for forgiveness without repentance. They are seeking a licence to sin against you once again. God does not accept into fellowship those who will not repent. Neither should you.

How many times should you forgive a brother who sins against you. 7 X 70! ... yet hear what is said in: luke 17.3 “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 “And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.” Forgiveness is granted upon repentance. It should be your desire to make that possible for your brother to do.

As repentance is a life long work so too is forgiving. Since we are also flesh it should come as no surprise that you will err and fall into sin on occasion. Jesus is our advocate and He pleads our case before the Father and seeks help from Him on our behalf. Perhaps there is a sin that you are bound to. It is then that God is willing and able to deliver, to heal, to strengthen. We are clothed with His righteousness yet inwardly He leads and works to cleanse us from all the iniquities in our hearts. As you walk closer to Him your hidden sins will become evident, your character flaws more obvious. Know this; that as you work out your repentance God's forgiveness is ready at hand. The moment you repent forgiveness is yours. So should you be with your brother and sisters in the Lord and toward those who are in the world.

It is the part of the transgressor to repent. It is the part of the one who was harmed to forgive.

If you want to be forgiven... then forgive. Then the rift shall be healed. Then newness of life will begin and grow. Then you will show yourselves to be the sons and daughters of God.

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Author: Joseph Raymond

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