THE STRUGGLES WITH FORGIVENESS

So many men struggle with the idea of forgiveness and this is often the area the enemy relies heavily upon to cause men to doubt that God can forgive someone that has a past like they do.  Many in our culture picture God as this angry deity that can’t wait to punish us for our sins.  The fact is we can have forgiveness but it is up to us to accept it.  For this reason, I want to utilize God’s Word to bring awareness of what our Heavenly Father has to say about forgiveness and create a greater awareness of how we can be confident of being forgiven.  John tells us “I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.”[1]   “His name” refers to Jesus and He is the atonement for our sins.

Paul was speaking to the Jew and the Gentile when he said “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.  Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.”[2] You notice Paul says “through Him everyone who believes is set free.”  First, a person must accept a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and then justification comes to us because of that relationship.  No matter how hard we might try, we cannot do enough to earn God’s justification by “being a good person” or “living by the ten commandments” but Jesus accomplished it for us by His death, burial, and resurrection.  Clearly this is telling us that God chooses to forgive us of all our sins.  While Satan often tries to use our past as a way to distract and deceive us from God’s truth, scripture clearly shows that no matter how great our sin, He forgives. God tells us “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”[3]

 So for those who choose to look at God as being angry and mad at people and is just waiting to take out his displeasure on all who have sinned (which is all of us), God’s Word doesn’t at all provide support for this ideology. This passage of scripture gives us a valuable description regarding sin and forgiveness: “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come.  The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”[4]Some key points from this passage:

  • For anyone that enters into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ they are a new creation, the old has gone (sinful man) and the new is here (freedom in Christ).  This does not mean we achieve perfection through this relationship but forgiveness.
  • It was God’s plan that made a way for reconciliation; it was not man’s idea because of our sinful nature.  God wants a personal relationship with the part of His creation that was formed in His image so if anyone is in Christ they are reconciled through Christ.  The Holman Bible Dictionary defines reconciliation as “The establishment of friendly relations between parties who are at variance with each other, making peace after an engagement in war, or readmission to the presence and favor of a person after rebellion against the person.”[5]  Sin caused man to be rebellious against God and therefore created separation and distance.  Through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ we have a way to be in the presence and favor of our Heavenly Father.
  • God allowed His one and only Son to serve as the sacrifice for all sins past, present, and future so that in Him we become the righteousness of God.

So often we forget or ignore the fact that we were sinful by nature and we needed forgiveness and reconciliation with our Creator.  As a result, we fail to forgive others as we have been forgiven.  Men particularly struggle with this idea of forgiveness.  We expect forgiveness from others but have difficulty giving it.  Scripture tells us “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”[6]We are to model ourselves after Christ and our Heavenly Father.  “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”[7]Pretty strong message when scripture says “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

In closing, I want to remind all Followers of Jesus Christ that salvation does not prevent us from sinning.  Let’s face it, it is our nature from the beginning; it is in our DNA. God tells us “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”[8]  It is very important to recognize that our relationship with Jesus Christ must be our primary focus and if we maintain that focus we will minimize sin but we will sin nonetheless.  Thought or deed, sin is sin.  God knows this and He gives us words of comfort when he had John write “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”[9]

My heart’s desire is these words regarding forgiveness will give you a new or refreshed look at what God has done for us and what we should be doing for Him in relationship to forgiveness.  Thank you Lord for your grace and forgiveness so that we might reconnect our hearts with yours!


[1] 1 John 2:12
[2] Acts 13:38&39
[3] Hebrews 8:12
[4] 2 Corinthians 5:16-21
[5]Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991.
[6] Ephesians 4:32
[7] Colossians 3:12-14
[8]1 John 1:8
[9]1 John 1:9

Note: this article was inspired by God Has Forgiven You – Jesus Christ brought love from Heaven posted on www.believers.org website

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