T he heart and soul of the message of the Bible is the forgiveness of sins. A good way to understand that message is to know the history behind it. Many Christians refer to the Bible as the history of salvation. The first time God announced his forgiveness of sins was immediately following the first sin. However, we must first understand how that first sin came about.
That first sin came about because Adam and Eve were deceived by someone who hated them, the world, and God very much.
That someone is Satan. Satan is called many names in the Bible, and each name is pretty fitting. God was also telling everyone how that fight would end. Many years later, God began his work of bringing that Savior into the world. Those years included some high points for Israel. They also included many low points. But whether the times were good or bad, through the Israelites God still preserved his Word and the hope of his promise.
One of the ways God preserved that hope was by giving the Israelites his law.
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This law contained guidelines for morality, a peaceful society, and foreign relations. It was also meant to show the Israelites their sin and their need for the coming Savior.
The whole purpose of the law was to remind the Israelites that God chose them to bring the much needed Savior into the world. That can be seen in the many laws God gave the Israelites involving the ritual sacrifice of animals and plant foods. God was showing his people that because of sin our relationship with him needed to be repaired and that a sacrifice of atonement was the only way to repair it Leviticus , 26, 31, 35; , 13, 16, 18; Other sacrifices were offered to thank God for his mercy and care, celebrating that restored relationship with him.
This whole system of offering sacrifices to God was a picture that pointed forward to the coming Savior.
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God was showing his people that the Savior would once and for all atone for the sin of the world Hebrews The fact that the animal had to die in place of the person pointed forward to the death of the Savior in place of all people Romans With these sacrifices, God was revealing to everyone the Savior was going to live a perfect life and then offer his life and blood as a sacrifice of atonement for all people.
Jesus came and fulfilled everything God had foretold about the coming Savior, including his life of perfectly following the law. He was tempted by sin and Satan just like Adam and Eve and all people, but he resisted temptation and never sinned Matthew ; Mark ; Luke He suffered the punishment that our sins deserved. The strain may go on for many years even as they keep trying to forgive. They frequently assume that there is something wrong with them as being hardhearted and otherwise unloving. They fault themselves for not being able to forgive others.
- Prayer Of Forgiveness.
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Perhaps these unforgiving Christians are trying to do something that God has not called them to do. Perhaps one-sided forgiveness is actually impossible in the absence of a necessary condition for forgiveness. These statements are examples of what I have heard from Christians many times about someone who has wronged them, and the difficulty they have forgiving that person.
Forgiveness seems to be commonly talked about as basic to Christian faith and practice. In contrast to non-Christians, a distinctly gospel-fueled ability in personal relationships is the Christian idea of forgiveness, as in this definition:. Once eradicated, the offense no longer conditions the relationship between the offender and the one affronted, and harmony is restored between the two. Every Christian knows that we ought to forgive when others wrong us. The biblical teaching is clear in passages such as Colossians and Ephesians that since we have been forgiven by God, then we must forgive others who sin against us.
Overlooked in common Christian understanding of forgiveness is the necessary part of repentance by the wrongdoer. The result of telling the other person what was done to us is that the brother, who may or may not have known he had done wrong, once being made aware of the fault, takes responsibility in repentance.
Do we prefer to withdraw from them and avoid the matter entirely, pretending that everything is okay?
That is not forgiveness or reconciliation. Some signs that we have not forgiven others are common experience. One sign is that we have distanced ourselves from them, instead of living in harmony and collaboration. This is reasonable to protect ourselves from further damage, but the silent treatment is far short of reconciliation. Despite what we may tell ourselves that we have forgiven them and it is all okay now, the ongoing fracture and coldness in the relationship indicates that we have not forgiven the other person. Another sign that we have not reached forgiveness is that we continue to feel bitterness or frustration about the situation.
Whenever the other person comes to mind, we are irritated.
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The offense of their wrong against us remains unresolved, so we carry this burden. Unfortunately, we get so familiar with carrying these burdens of our bitterness against others that we do not even realize we are doing it, like carrying rocks in our backpack that just seem our normal load in life. Maybe we want to remain bitter, or maybe we want to retaliate by cutting the other off from relationship with us.