Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Forgiveness

Forgiveness has received notable consideration as a method of reaching a state of emotional healing by social psychologist in the last few years, and rightly so, for God initiated the concept from the fall of man; God knew that it would take an attitude of forgiving to live in emotional and spiritual freedom. From Joseph forgiving his brothers in Egypt to the forgiving acts of Christ on the cross, this godly concept has been born of the character of God. Forgiving another for wrongs done has been described has having compassion, a ceasing to feel resentment, or a cancellation of debt owed. And, certainly all three definitions apply to the character of God. We learn early in the book of Genesis that God made man in his own image and we learn from Christ in the New Testament that we are to follow after him, using his life as an example for conducting ours. It's no surprise that modern psychology is finding value in Christian forgiveness, because God has always known human nature and how to mold it closer to His own perfect image.
As soon as sin entered the world, the Lord God had a plan to bring mankind back unto himself; to restore the broken relationship. And, this magnificent plan would be based on a unique attitude and emotion: forgiveness. To demonstrate to the world what atonement and forgiving were all about, God chose the nation of Israel as a people that would walk after him, becoming a light to the surrounding nations. In the book of Leviticus, we see that the Lord initiated the law which included the act of sacrifice as a means of atoning for sin. "And he shall do with the bullock as he did with the bullock of sin offering, so shall he do with this; and the priest shall make an atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them" (Leviticus 4:20). Several more sacrifices were instructed and the Lord ended most every instruction with the words "It shall be forgiven him". Early in the history of man, God presented the idea that He would send the ultimate sacrifice and that Christian forgiveness would become a powerful definition of God's love.
Christ, the one and only begotten son of God, came, ultimately, to become the sacrificial lamb that would be the last sacrifice for all of mankind. Jesus was the forgiving atonement for all of man's sins. As sin had entered the world through one man, Adam, so mercy entered into the world through one man, Jesus Christ. "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace" (Ephesians 1:7). Jesus openly forgave sins while he walked on earth, demonstrating that He had the power of God to judge, but choosing to extend Christian forgiveness instead. And, the final act of forgiving compassion of the crucifixion on the cross did not bring an end to the need for human forgiving. Jesus taught that those who followed in his ways would need to continue the excellent tradition of forgiving one another. "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:32).

Throughout Scripture, there are many verses that emphasize Christian forgiveness. Both Jesus and Paul the Apostle taught that in order to be forgiven, one must be willing to exercise mercy in difficult situations involving others. Paul also explained to readers that forgiveness would follow confession; that mercy is showered upon those who fully recognize their sin and repent. And, of course, confessing sin and having God forgive are by no means legalistic activities. "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage" (Galatians 5:1). Jesus Christ set us free from the law, and so confessing sins is as much of a spiritually healing activity and a recognition of our limited human flesh as it a command. Everything initiated by God for us is always in our own best interest.

Forgiving others for wrongs that they have inflicted upon our lives and comforts is not an easy task. Perhaps this is the reason that the topic of Christian forgiveness is so widespread and well covered in the Bible. Because man nor woman owns a sea of forgetfulness, it seems that we hang on to past wrongs that we have done and that others have done to us. But, we must remember that nailed to the cross is every wrong ever done, past and future. Take time to thoroughly study the topic of forgiving and discover the compassionate, mercy, and payment for sins that Christ offers. The secular psychologist are absolutely correct - forgiving is key to emotional health.

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