Monday, February 28, 2005

More on forgiveness

James White at Alpha and Omega Ministries (HT: Joshua at RazorsKiss) points out that our ability to forgive is a gift from God, based on his forgiveness of us:
Those who have not been forgiven find it impossible to forgive. The power that allows us to truly forgive is the same power that has brought us forgiveness. This is one reason why the sticky sentimentality of so much of modern evangelicalism really robs believers of the true power of the Christian faith: we can truly forgive others because we see the cross not as the Big Failure where God tries and fails in so many cases, but for what it truly is. We can see it in its fulness: that place where justice, holiness, wrath, mercy, grace, and love all come together in that one glorious place and time, meeting, and being resolved perfectly, in the Incarnate Son. The person who sees in Christ that perfect atonement for his or her own sins, and understands the great price by which redemption full and free has been purchased, has the ability to forgive others. Only the forgiven forgive. . . we can't, but He can, in us.


Blogger Mike said...

I'm not sure I agree with White that "only the forgiven can forgive." Non-Christians have the capacity as well, although they (like us) may do it for the wrong reasons. Forgiveness means that we no longer hold an offense against someone: their debit or liability has been removed.

Cannot an unbeliever forgive a literal debt? Well, they do it all the time at the corporate and personal level. It is, I think, a reflection of the image of God in them. The image may be distorted and disfigured, but the unsaved nevertheless bear a resemblance to God.

Personally, I have often experienced forgiveness from non-Christians who had every right to be upset with me. But sometimes they have a greater awareness of their own flaws than do Christians, and are thus more apt to forgive a transgression.

We need to guard against an attitude that says we're better than and capable of more than non-Christians. It is not the sort of humility I believe God desires in us.

10:16 AM, February 28, 2005  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Good points. See new post.

10:48 AM, February 28, 2005  
Blogger biblemike said...

What most people call forgiveness isn't that at all. For some forgiveness means releaving others of the resposibility for what they have done that wronged another. That is not fogivness in accordness with the Bible's definition. To forgive is to forget the harm they have done to you and to require no payment to yourself in exchange for the forgiveness you extend. Responsibility must be taken by the one doing the wrong for what they have done and they must willingly accept the repurcussions that result from their actions whether that be shame or imprisonment or punishment of some otner kind.

When I forgive you, you are not cleansed, I am. I am free from the burden of the grudge and the despair and the anger and desire for revenge. Until you seek forgiveness by repenting the wrong you have done and desiring to make it right you have not been cleansed from the damage you hve done to yourself. Only God can do that for you. He is the only source by whcih you can truly b forgiven and freed fromm all responsibility for what you have done. Without God's hand there is no hope and there is no cleansing.

4:25 PM, February 28, 2005  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Good points all, Mike, and beautifully said! Thanks for stopping by, and thanks (by visiting here) for introducing me to biblemike wonders. Peace.

4:37 PM, February 28, 2005  
Blogger John Schroeder said...

I think this topic worthy of a great deal of discussion. Forgiveness is so misunderstood, so misapplied, and so many awful conclusions drawn based upon those misundertandings and misapplications, that I sometimes fear to discuss it.
I "amened" your posts here

10:24 AM, March 01, 2005  
Blogger gr8day4living said...

I'm not sure of Biblemike's statement, "When I forgive you, you are not cleansed, I am." If forgivness is at the heart of God and given birth to in the heart of God, then it would seem to me that it's God's model that we follow. God is not cleansed when he forgives us, nor are we cleansed when we forgive. Forgivness assumes repentance. The moldel of the Scriptures is that when a person repents they are forgiven. I'm not sure that we even have the ability to grant forgivness without repentance. I would ask; Does God anywhere in the Scriptures just arbitrarily forgive us or does He in fact demand repentance as the means of being forgiven? That is an honest question, not a terd attitude.

10:28 PM, November 21, 2006  

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