Forgiveness in Christendom is a dicey subject. There are several schools of thoughts about what forgiveness should be. The most popular are:
- First School of Thought: After forgiveness, if you sin and die or rapture takes place in the process, you are bound for hell.
- Second School of Thought: God’s forgiveness covers your past, present and future sin. It’s a once saved, heaven guaranteed process. Nothing you do can change it.
- Third School of Thought: Once you sin, you need to chant rhymes, fast and pray fervently to be accepted.
The interesting thing about these school of thoughts is that they are usually backed up with words from the scripture. I would not claim to know the Bible more than other humans, neither will I shame any other person to make my point. Rather, I will explain God’s ultimate sacrifice, and Jesus’ death which is the core of humanity and forgiveness.
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake, we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.” No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:33-39 NLT).
Forgiveness: Our Love Story in Christ
The Bible from Genesis to Revelation is our love story. According to Filton J. Sheen’s the Bible is, ”the divine romance.” Each war, death, betrayal, judgement, bloodshed, led to one thing – bringing the commonwealth of Israel closer to God. All the kings, prophets and sages worked towards a common goal, to bridge the gap between God and man. To create the perfect bond.
Forgiveness and salvation in the Old Testament were based on the deliverance of the Israelites. But in the New Testament salvation was brought to all by the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. His ascension to heaven and the release of the Holy Spirit – the seal of our love.
If you understand nothing else, assimilate this: ”Every love story ever constructed or manifested by humans (fiction or non-fiction) is a faint reflection and a scrambled version of God’s love towards us”. So, if humans with adulterated love can forgive freely and love deeply, how much more the father who created LOVE; documented his love story and interaction with humans; gave up his son to die in the most inhumane way possible, holdback forgiveness from us?
(Romans 8: 32-33) He did not spare his even his own Son but gave Him up for us all, won’t he also gives us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honour at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
What Forgiveness is not
Forgiveness is a RELEASE because of love. You forgive those you love simply because you love them, nothing attached to it. Not your works, nor grovelling nor charity. You can’t attain forgiveness by bribing God. Every part of salvation – from justification to regeneration – is supernatural, a part of God’s plan and work. Not your soberness or endeavour; not because you cried enough or had the longest guilt trip, but because God loves you.
(Ephesians 2: 8-9) For by grace, you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
God does the bidding, the calling, the unveiling, and the unsealing. It is God who does not let you go, not the other way round. It is God who touched your heart to accept and confess his love for you, not the eloquence of the preacher.
(1 Corinthians 2: 1 – 5) When I first came to you my dear sisters and brothers, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret. I decided that while I was with you, I will forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified…. My message and preaching were very plain rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.
Forgiveness is not:
- Compromising your moral
- A violation of justice
- The avoidance of disagreement
Forgiveness cannot be gotten:
- Through Fasting
- By your good works
- With your tithe and offering
- By giving to the poor
- By speaking in tongues or prophesying
All these spiritual exercises are good, but they were not and will never be a prerequisite for God’s love and forgiveness.
How Does Forgiveness Work?
- Accept God’s lead to repentance and confess your sins.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) ESV.
- Confess Jesus Christ with your mouth and believe in your heart that God has raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 10: 9).
- Growing in your new status in Christ without judgement but grasping the grace of God. (Romans 8: 1; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 12:2)
Forgiveness cannot be understood outside love. It can be embraced only through the love of Christ. The Bible clearly states that we are unworthy of God’s love, but he still bestowed his love upon us (Romans 5: 8). It’s never about our works, it’s just about God’s love. If you could not bribe God to sacrifice his only son. Why would you think bribing God with your spiritual gymnastics will make him forgive you?