PART 1 FORGIVENESS - SECRET CONFESSIONS

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 1:45pm

PART 1 FORGIVENESS - SECRET CONFESSIONS

Introduction

Forgiveness is a subject that frankly can be very confusing for a Christian. Not only do we have our own perception of forgiveness based on our upbringing, but for many Christians we are told to follow the example of forgiveness toward others that Christ exhibited on the cross.

     If I were to ask you, what does forgiveness mean to you, I’m sure you might respond with one of these statements:

~ To forget about what someone has done to me. I’m not going to approach them or tell anyone else about it, but just let it go. 

~ To take someone to a court of law, who has injured me in character, person, or property. Once the case has been settled, then I will forgive them.

~ To take revenge on someone, who has done me wrong. Once I have enacted revenge, then I will forgive them.

~ To talk to others about someone else, letting them know about how much they have hurt me with the hope of receiving advice as to how to handle the matter.

     Understanding this topic from a biblical perspective will help us understand how to address issues that involve situations in which we have been hurt by others mentally, emotionally, and physically.

     As I grew up, I was the recipient of much verbal abuse from my father. He was a man of many talents having been a real estate broker, carpenter, and an owner of various types of businesses (e.g. clothing, restaurant, junk picker, etc). Over time he purchased a house, owned a nice car, and was living the American dream. However, he had very little patience when it came to trying to teach me his carpentry skills. I was a slow learner, which he couldn’t tolerate. Whenever I would make a mistake or take too long I would be verbally ridiculed. This caused me to withdraw from wanting to be in his presence.

     In my early high school years, I got a part time job working for my hometown newspaper. During my senior year, I left the newspaper position and was able to secure a part time job working as a printer for a local retail store. At this time, my father demanded that I work for him in his small restaurant. This was the beginning of our tumultuous relationship.

     I didn’t like to prepare food, let alone run a small restaurant. There were days when I was left alone to cook, wash dishes, clean, and close up the restaurant. It seemed like I was never able to please him as far as my job performance was concerned. I was criticized quite often. I got to a point where I just became resigned to expect it. This criticism affected me in everything I did. As a result, I had a very low self-esteem of myself in any endeavor, which included my school work and social relationships.

     Eventually, I went to college while continuing to work for my father after school. On one particular day, there was a parade that was passing by my father’s restaurant. I had just got out of work and decided to follow it to where it ended, which was at the town hall of the city. In the distance I heard a loud voice over a speaker. I walked toward where the noise was coming from and saw a crowd of people gathering around. What a young man was talking about was the idea that God wants to change your life. This change of life can take place by repenting and believing in Jesus. This was confusing to me, because I was brought up Catholic and already believed in Jesus. I was approached by one of the members of the group, who invited me to attend their next meeting.

     I have to admit that I desired for a life change of direction. I attended their next meeting. While there one of the men gave a message, which I didn’t understand. After which he talked about how God wants to come into our life personally and make us new by giving us his nature. He mentioned if we acknowledge that we are a sinner and confess belief in Jesus Christ as to who He is and what he has accomplished then another member of the trinity being the Holy Spirit would come into our physical body and give us a new nature. I professed to being a sinner and confessed belief in this Christ. Immediately I was filled with a joy and peace that permeated my entire being. God had literally come into my life. I was a new person. 

     As I grew in understanding as to who I was in Christ and how to think his thoughts, I forgave my father. This idea of forgiveness meant that I would no longer be pre-occupied with his abusive attitude toward me. The self-image that I had of myself was no longer based on how he treated me, but was based on the new person, who I now was in Christ. I began to understand that everything which had happened to me brought me to the place where I was now.

     As time went on eventually I got married, went to bible school, and became principal of a Christian Day school, which was located in a nearby state. On one particular Sunday morning, my father and mother arrived at my residence in order to see me and my family. While there they attended a church service with us. After the pastor preached the message he proceeded to proclaim the gospel. After service my parents stayed with us a little while longer and then left to go back home.

     The following Sunday morning began with the usual morning church service. As my wife and I walked in, proceeding to sit in the back of the chapel while hearing music that was being played from the stage, I saw my father and mother up front in the first row clapping and singing. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I have never seen them both happily engaged in church. Something had happened to them as I believe it had happened to me years earlier. God had come into their life.

     My dad died of cancer a short time after, but I have to admit I will never forget that day.

     We don’t have to like what people have done to us, but we don’t have to let that abuse be which defines us for the rest of our life.

     God wants to make us new, and that can only happen if we profess that we are a sinner and confess with our lips belief in his Son. When we do, God will use us to be an example of his love to others. Who knows, God might bring back into our life those people who have mistreated us so that we can extend to them the same love that was extended to us, when we were dead in our sins.

     When we talk about forgiving others, does this word always mean to release someone from the debt of sin owed to us?

     Hopefully this series will help us understand that forgiveness is multifaceted. What it means is determined by who it is to be directed towards, whether they be an unbeliever or believer.

     We will begin by looking at the ultimate example of forgiveness.

 

CHAPTER 1

The Ultimate Example of Forgiveness

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (Romans 5:12)                                                                                          

     When I think of forgiveness I think of Jesus dying on the cross for me paying the price for my sins by means of the sacrifice of his very life while not expecting anything in return. All of mankind is considered as criminal in the sense of the first man and woman having disobeyed God’s directive in the Garden of Eden by eating of the prohibitive tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The result of which was that man was no longer able to continue to fellowship with God, having become self-centered and self-serving thereby choosing to make decisions based on thoughts, words, and actions that are self-generated and not divinely initiated.

To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:19)

     Before Christ’s death on the cross, heaven was closed to all mankind. A payment was needed to be made in order to address the sin issue so that the hostilities between man and God would be removed by the satisfying of His justice, whereby mankind would no longer be held accountable for the debt of sin that they owed. So God had a plan in mind that would address the sin issue. One of the members of the trinity, Jesus Christ, would leave heaven and come to earth by means of being born of a virgin and conceived by another member of the trinity, the Holy Spirit.

There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. (Luke 16:19-26)    

     Up to this time in human history the destiny of the human race after someone died would be that their soul would go to one of two places in hell. One was called the place of torments. This is where the souls of people would go, who didn’t believe in God as He was revealed to them during their time on earth. The other place was called Paradise or Abraham’s bosom. This is where the souls of the people go who believed in God as he was revealed to them in their lifetime.

Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God. (John 5:18)

     While on earth Jesus listened to and obeyed the directives of another member of the trinity, God the Father. The teaching about a new kingdom, one which comes not with observation, was declared. Miracles were performed which evidenced that He was sent from God. The initial perception of the Jews concerning him was that He just might be their Messiah, having been born of two parents just as other humans, who would eventually become their king that would engage and overthrow their enemies thus setting up an earthly kingdom with Jerusalem as its capital. But Jesus was rejected by them, because of blasphemy, when he proclaimed God to be his Father, thus putting himself on an equal level with Him. To the Jews, their God had no equal. To be equal with Him suggested two Gods and therefore polytheism.

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)                                                                                                                                                                    

     Jesus was condemned to death, and eventually was nailed to a cross as the means of carrying this sentence out. Many believe that while he was on the cross it was during a three hour period of time in which darkness pervaded the atmosphere that he was judged, receiving the punishment due to the debt of sin owed by mankind. He was made to be sin for us, not in the sense that he was sin itself, but as a sacrifice, an offering, for sin.

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matthew 27:45-46)

     The question that comes into play here is, did both the Father and the Holy Spirit forsake (abandon; leave helpless; leave destitute) the Son during the three hours on the cross when he was paying the penalty for the sins of the whole world?

How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14)

     According to Hebrews 9:14, Christ, through the influences of the eternal Spirit (the Holy Spirit, whose conception and the performing of miracles was by his instrumentality) voluntarily offered himself as a perfect sacrifice to God. This would signify that only God the Father forsook him. What is being conveyed by the word “forsaken” is that the father would no longer remain in fellowship with his Son during the three hours on the cross when he was enduring judgment.

By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. (1 Peter 3:19-20)

For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; (2 Peter 2:4-5)                               

     When the sacrifice for sin was finished Christ gave up the ghost (human spirit) and went to a place in Hell in order to preach (made an official announcement) unto the spirits in prison. Who are these spirits? They could either be fallen angels, who while on earth in their physical bodies had intercourse with women, the goal of whom was to make ineffectual the lineage from which the Messiah would come; demons (angels who do not have physical bodies and as a result sought to indwell a person’s body); or humans (unbelievers in Noah’s time who perished during the flood). The book of second Peter seems to indicates that these spirits were fallen angels, who were cast down to hell, where two prisons are located, the one here being addressed as that bring called Tartarus. Do we know what Jesus said to them? Unfortunately, the scriptures are not clear about this.

       Did Jesus visit anyone else in hell?

There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, … (Luke 16:19, 22-23a)

     Hell not only contained two prisons, but as mentioned earlier it also had two compartments which housed disembodied spirits. One was called torments where the disembodied spirits of those humans who didn’t believe in God as he was revealed in the Old Testament resided. The other was called Paradise (Abraham’s bosom) where the disembodied spirits of those humans (Old Testament saints) who believed in God as he was revealed resided. It is possible that Christ also visited with the disembodied spirits who were residing in Paradise declaring unto them that he paid the debt owed to God the Father because of sin and that his resurrection would illustrate God’s acceptance of this payment.

Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Ephesians 4:8-9)

     He might have even mentioned that he would abide on earth for a short time and then ascend into heaven at which time they would be removed from Paradise and accompany him on the way to heaven. While we don’t know for sure what he actually said to them what we do know is there is a verse in the book of Ephesians which indicates that those in Paradise will indeed ascend to heaven with him. This verse states that when Jesus ascended on high (on his way to heaven) that he would be accompanied by the body of captives (disembodied spirits) that he captured. At one time, they were held captive by sin and Satan, but through believing they are now His captives.

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: (1 Peter 3:18)                     

He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. (Acts 2:31-32)

So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. (1 Corinthians 15:42-44)                                             

     After three days his human spirit re-entered his physical body (bodily resurrection) at which time there occurred a physical change. It still had flesh and bones and he was still able to eat food, but other than that it was totally different from the original. The differences now are that it was: no longer subject to decay and death; immortal, no longer subjected to earthly conditions. Likewise, when we die and leave our physical body behind we will be given a house, a spiritual body, not made with hands that will no longer be under the sway of corporeal desires or of intellectual and passionate impulses1, a body which will be totally dominated by the Spirit.

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: (1 Peter 3:18)                     

He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. (Acts 2:31-32)

So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. (1 Corinthians 15:42-44)                                                         

     Jesus remained on the earth for 40 more days being witnessed to by more than 500 people. One very important instruction that he gave to his apostles during this time was that they were to wait at Jerusalem for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. At the completion of his time on earth Jesus ascended into heaven. Ten days following his ascension the Holy Spirit would come and indwell his disciples on the day of Pentecost. By Jesus sacrifice not only has the debt of sin owed by mankind to God the Father been paid for, but along with this all of their sins have been forgiven.

 

What does it mean that all of mankind’s sins have been forgiven? Let’s go to Ephesians 1 and find out.

The forgiveness of sins:

Ephesians 1:7

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

This verse beautifully states that in Christ we have redemption (to let one go free; separation from all of the consequences of our transgressions) from the judgment of all our sins through His blood (the price paid to divine justice) along with sin’s forgiveness (to blot out; not to remember any longer; to throw a person’s sins behind one’s back; to carry away our sins so that they might never again be seen).   

     So there it is. Once payment was made for the debt of sin, forgiveness was provided. The debt was paid for and the record of the debt was erased (forgiveness). As you can see the word “forgiveness” can mean different things depending on what it is referring to. As we continue on in this study keep in mind these two words: payment and forgiveness.

 

Father, forgive them

Luke 23:34

Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

When many Christians look at the subject of forgiveness their modus operandi toward others, who have injured them, is probably taken from the words of Christ when was still alive on the cross. What do you think Jesus meant when he said to the Father “forgive them”? Should we as Christians have this same attitude of forgiveness toward others as Christ exemplified? What do you think? Hopefully this study will present some clarity concerning these questions.

 

Endnotes

1The Pulpit Commentary Pc Study Bible version 5, 2006, 01 Jan. 2014 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.

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