Keeping Score (Part 3)

In my last two blogs I discussed what it means to “forgive and even forget” those offenses that come into our lives.  In Part One, I taught how we through prayer are able to receive a new interpretation of our painful experiences.  In Part Two, I demonstrated how this principle worked in the life of Joseph, whose brothers grossly mistreated him when he was a teenager.  In Part Three, I wish to offer a partial theological treatise on how God forgives us.

To fully experience the dynamics of forgiveness and forgetting, we need to understand the act of justification. 

Justification is God’s judicial act of declaring believing sinners to become righteous and acceptable in His sight.  It is a legal term.  Justification is possible because Christ has borne the sinner’s sin on the Cross “and has been made unto him righteousness” (1 Corinthians 1:30).  Romans 3:24 says, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

Justification springs from the fountain of God’s grace.  “But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to his mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:4-5). 

For you see, Jesus satisfied all the demands of the Old Testament Law.  Justification is on the basis of faith, not by human merits or works.  In this marvelous operation of God, the Holy Judge of the universe judicially declares righteous the one who believes in Jesus.

Romans 8:31-34 says, “What then shall we say in response to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?  Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?  It is God who justifies.  Why then is the one who condemned?  No one.  Christ Jesus who died – more than that who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”

A justified believer emerges from God’s great court room with a consciousness that Another, His Substitute has borne his guilt and that he stands without accusation before the bar of God.  The believer is justified in Christ and “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). 

So, if God for Christ’s sake forgives us, we can forgive others.  And if God looks upon us “just as if we never sinned,” then we can look upon those who sin against us in like manner.  It’s all by His grace and empowerment .  The prophet Micah was outspoken and fearless in announcing the iniquities of Judah, However, he ended his prophecy with these wonderful words:

“Who is a God like you, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of his possession?  He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in his unchanging love.  He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities under his feet.  Yes, you will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea”  (7:18-19). 

Even God’s anger does not keep score!  He casts all repented and confessed sin into His “Sea of Forgetfulness” to be remembered against us no more.  Jesus made it clear:  “Whenever you stand praying forgive; if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.  But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions” (Mark 11:25-26).  To forgive is a choice.  The pain may still be felt, but your desire to forgive remains intact. 

Have you embraced the “I’ll forgive, but I won’t forget” concept?  Remember, God is able to help you assign a new, redemptive interpretation to your pain.  Rejoice as He pulls the negative emotions out of the skewed details of your past.  Approach your former nemesis, look him in the eyes and give him a big hug (if only in your mind)!  Jesus’ unconditional love and God’s judicial act of pardon will cause you to love everyone!

Do you remember the chorus, “Old Time Religion?  One verse says, “It makes me love everybody.”  It’s hard to love sometimes, but tell your soul man to line up.  Emotions may still remain, but the spirit man wins!  “The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5).



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