ENJOYING Forgiveness

by Dr Gavin Williams

Sadly, many Christians have accepted a distorted view of God. Despite all the Bible has to say about His love, graciousness, mercy and compassion, many still hold a mental image of our Heavenly Father as a scowling judge always looking to pick fault at the least error or failure.

This was illustrated for me recently in a conversation with a young man. This fine, Christian, young man lived in constant fear least, in some unguarded moment or in some indefinable way, he had committed the unforgivable sin, grieved the Holy Spirit and was therefore eternally damned. Though his constant desire is to love and serve the Lord, a distorted understanding of the character of the Father has robbed him of his joy. Not SURPRISINGLY, satan, the 'accuser of the brethren', constantly attacks his assurance of salvation.

It is time for all believers to understand clearly that judgment is God's last resort when every OFFER of forgiveness has been rejected. Forgiveness is God's passion; judgment, His eternal grief.

Does the Scripture support this view of God? A thousand times, YES! Reflect on these passages from His Word:

Psalm 103:8-14. The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbour his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are FORMED, he remembers that we are dust.

Isaiah 1:18-20. Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the BEST from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword." For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

2 Peter 3:9. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Consider this: if God preferred to judge and condemn rather than forgive and restore, why SEND Jesus? If judgment were His preferred option, then all He need do is let us go on living our own sinful way, die in our sin and then meet out judgment to His heart's content. But that is not the God of the Bible.

In the pages of the Scripture we read of a loving, gracious, compassionate and merciful Father who is passionate about His creation. Scripture paints a picture of one who loves to forgive and for whom judgment is almost an ADMISSION of personal failure. Consider these passages from the Scriptures:

1 John 4:9-10. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Ephesians 1:7-8. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

It's time for all of us who love God to put away our distorted images of the Father and call them what they are – lies of the enemy. Then we need to replace those fearful pictures with the truth we see in His Holy Word – pictures of a loving, gracious, compassionate father who would stop at nothing, even the death of His only Son, in order to OFFER us forgiveness and escape from judgment.

I have the impression that 'forgiveness' just might be God's favourite word. The passion to forgive sinners flows from His heart and drips scarlet from the wounds of Jesus on the Cross. It reaches out to you and me through the precious ministry of the Holy Spirit who both convicts of sin and guides us onto the pathway of true salvation. Through the sufferings of Jesus on the Cross, the Father reaches out to the worst of sinners pleading for the privilege of bestowing forgiveness.

Some years ago I discovered a precious thread running through the pages of the Old Testament. I call it "The Line of Forgiveness in the OT." In these verses there are some powerful pictures of forgiveness if we will only take the time to meditate upon them. Consider what the Father does with forgiven sin:

Psalm 103:11-12. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so GREAT is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Isaiah 38:17. ... In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.

Isaiah 43:25. "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more".

Isaiah 53:5-6. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Micah 7:19. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

In the light of these startling truths, surely God's children ought to be living in the freedom on forgiveness not the binding fear of judgment.

There is one step more. Since He has so mercifully forgiven us, should we not forgive ourselves. During my years of ministry, I have found one of the most debilitating conditions among Christian people is the refusal to forgive themselves. The memory of some past failure hangs around their spiritual neck like a dead WEIGHT. While they will agree that God has forgiven them, they simply will not let themselves 'off the hook'. In practical terms, this crushing burden drives life from their spirit and holds them in a constant state of defeat.

To those who live with such a burden I propose a simple question. Since God offers you full, and free forgiveness, why live in captivity to your own judgment. Do you think that by constantly condemning yourself, you can somehow accomplish more than Christ has already accomplished for you on the Cross?

Since He has forgiven you there is nothing and no one to condemn you (Romans 8:1). Set yourself free. Believe His Word. Ask Him to minister the consciousness of His release to your inner being and discover a freedom such as you have never known. Then, enjoy your forgiveness PURCHASED at such great price on the Cross.

Praise God that we live under His amazing grace and His wonderful forgiveness.

May 30th 2002.

© Copyright LttN Ministries Inc. 2002.