Part 5 - More Bible Quotes on Forgiveness
To Illustrate How Sin and Forgiveness are RelatedLet's read more quotes on forgiveness to see how these two aspects of forgiveness work together. You might want to turn to the passages in your own Bible.
Colossians 2:13-14 (see longer study on Colossians 2) has lots to say about forgiveness, but for the moment disregard the word "forgiven."
"And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven <5483, charizomai> us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross" (Col 2:13-14, NAS)
We need to ask some questions here:
1. What is the certificate of debt?
In the King James Version, Colossians 2:14 speaks of Christ "blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us." The Greek word there for "handwriting" is cheirographon (khi-rog'-raf-on), which was a handwritten document that functioned as a promissory note. This was not referring to the law itself, but to a record of charges that stood against an individual, a record of their indebtedness. Therefore, this canceling the debt is referring to God's act of taking our debt of sin and blotting it out.
2. Where was it taken from?Specifically, where was it taken from? The prophet Jeremiah gives us a clue:
"The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron; with the point of a diamond it is engraved on the tablet of their heart?" (Jer 17:1, NKJV)What is the Bible referring to by saying we have a record of sin in our heart? Simply, that we have a conscience that plagues us with guilt and condemnation, when we understand our actions and behaviors to be inconsistent with what is right. The forgiveness, on our part, involves the canceling out of the record of our indebtedness, removing it from our consciences, "setting us free" from our inner guilt! God accomplished this miraculous change in us through our faith in the death of His Son. This was God's motive in giving Jesus to the world. Christ's death was not intended to appease any inborn malice in God's heart, not to get Him to forgive, but rather to liberate us from sin's psychological consequences, to enable us to experience forgiveness. The following passage discusses this:
"How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Heb 9:14, NKJV)The blood of Christ cleanses our consciences from the guilt of our "dead works," works that lead to death. We are no longer bothered by a guilty conscience. The guilt and shame is gone. It changes us, not Him!
"Without shedding of blood there is no remission" (Heb 9:22)The word "remission" does not refer to the forgiveness that occurs in God's heart. We have already noted that God forgave us in His great heart before any blood was shed. Had God not already forgiven us, no blood would have ever been shed. "Remission" here is a form of the word aphiemi and is talking about the sinner's psychological freedom from the guilt of sin. The same word is used in this verse:
"John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins" (Mark 1:4, NKJV)Baptism is not about water cleansing the surface of the skin. The work of baptism goes deep, through our identification with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, to the work of cleansing our conscience. Baptism is to identify with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus ? that's why Bible baptism is in the form of immersion. You go right under the water in a burial and are resurrected out of the water.
"And baptism, of which this (Noah's flood) is an image, now gives you salvation, not by washing clean the flesh, but by making you free from the sense of sin before God, through the coming again of Jesus Christ from the dead;" (1 Pet 3:21, BBE)
3. From whom, out of whose way did He take it?
By doing this grand work in us, Jesus took our indebtedness "out of the way." Out of whose way? Consider a scenario: Have you ever owed someone something and couldn't pay it back? Did it get in the way of your relationship with them? When you saw them, did you intentionally turn the other way or, at least, avoid the topic of the debt? Without the cross, our indebtedness would have prevented us from ever drawing close to the Father. Not because the Father would have held our debt over us or turned the other way, but because our enormous guilt would have loomed before us whenever we encountered Him. Our debt would still be in our way. We could never have come near to Him because of the guilt of our indebtedness to Him. Jesus died to save us. He was crucified for us. It was for our redemption that He took our certificate of debt and nailed it to His cross so that it could be taken away from us.
So God took the certificate of our debt out of our way by putting it on Jesus and permitting Him to suffer the consequences instead of us. Why did He do this? Because, already in His heart, on an emotional level He had already forgiven, - charazomied - us.
"When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross" (Col 2:13-14, NASB)So the word "forgiven" in Col 2:13 is? - charizomai. The apostle John also talks about forgiveness in this well-known verse:
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive
Here again, John is not talking about the forgiveness that takes place within God's heart. We are not to think that God's heart is closed toward sinners until they confess. Many believe and teach this unjust charge against God. He does not hold man at arm's length until we take the first step toward reconciliation. God freely forgave us from the tenderness of His heart long before we had even the first thought of confessing anything. This verse is referring to the work of the canceling out of our indebtedness, our sin and unrighteousness; it happens in us, not in Him.
Take note of what the verse itself is saying: "to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." This forgiveness centers, once again, on the cleansing work that God is doing in us. It's a matter of whether we will see our need to have the guilt and shame removed and then allow God to do it for us. It is happening in our minds and God will not interfere with that unless we allow Him.
"For if ye forgive
Forgive here is aphiemi, not charizomai. If we aphiemi others, where is that forgiveness happening? Remember, when we forgive others it is also a two-party process. This verse is not referring to a change happening in us. How do we know? - Because "aphiemi" describes the state of the forgivee. We may have a part in it but the actual word aphiemi is referring to forgiveness as they receive it. How do we know this is referring to the removal of guilt and shame from them? - "aphiemi."
If we don't aphiemi others, does God forgive us? Yes, He forgives, He charizomais us but we will not be aphiemied. Why not? Because how can we feel free of guilt and shame in our hearts when we are not willing to do what we should and need to for others to experience that freedom when they have wronged us?
Can you see the deeper meaning that comes from having more than one word for forgiveness?For the conclusion of this study on Biblical Forgiveness go to Part 6 (of 6).
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God always forgives!
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