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To forgive is to assume someone else's debt and pay it. The part of that definition that is often overlooked is the part about the debt not just being forgotten or dropped from the ledger, but having to be paid. Every debt that is forgiven is paid by the one to whom the debt is owed. It costs the lien holder to cancel the debt. Hebrews 10:17 says, "Where there is forgiveness of these (the aforementioned 'sins and lawless deeds' in the previous verse), there is no longer any offering for sin." Of course there isn't. Why would there be, if the debt has been forgiven, the offering has already been made and accepted? The ledger is balanced; debt made, debt paid. Ephesians 4:32 draws a perfect picture of what the one who forgives looks like: "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." He says 'God forgave you but it cost him.' He listed the price as 'In Christ.' So he's saying 'When you forgive one another there will be a cost to the one who forgives; no one can pay it but you.' Unless we're willing to assume and pay the cost of the debt against us we cannot forgive. Why all the concern about forgiveness? I think it has to do with the way the church has taught that in order to be forgiven by God, we must forgive others who have hurt us. That's a real high bar for a lot of people. People have had their lives destroyed by other people who have not, and will never, even ask to be forgiven. It can seem an impossible hurdle to clear. Preachers will say 'It is, without God's help.' That's the biggest problem with the people learning and committing to forgiveness. They're told that God will take part in them forgiving someone. That ain't forgiveness; where I'm from we call that 'Passing the Buck.' "If you don't forgive others their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive your trespasses" (Matthew 6:15). This is the issue that causes the most concern. Instead of wanting to be released from the burden of carrying unforgiveness of others, we worry about our own account with God. 'Am I forgiven?' That concern causes almost all Christians to claim to have this forgiveness thing mastered. And we don't. I like to say, 'the people who claim to have it mastered ain't had the right lie told on them.' Jesus was teaching "the world." Forgiving people who have hurt us isn't a requirement for salvation. So he couldn't have been teaching them that if they couldn't get past forgiving someone who had cooked their golden goose they couldn't be in relationship with his Father. He wasn't teaching on what the world needs to do to be saved. No one can do or not do anything to receive eternal life. The church has made that teaching error since day one. Scriptures like this one are taught as if Jesus was talking to saved (forgiven) people. He wasn't, he was teaching them (us) what forgiveness is; it is the one owed assuming the debt and paying it on behalf of the debtor (the one who owes them (us)). That's what God does and that's what we're to do. God doesn't forgive us in order to be forgiven; neither are we to forgive one another in order to be forgiven. So why should a hurt person forgive a person who has hurt them badly? Because the hurt person wants to be forgiven by God for their trespasses. Jesus is saying 'You need to understand the program; there is no forgiveness where the offended person doesn't pay the tab.' That's what forgiveness is: the offended person picks up the check. Jesus is teaching that you can't pay your way out of anyone's debt. If you want to get out of debt you'll have to do it through taking on others' debts. Weird isn't it?
Forgiveness of sin [EBD] -- Easton's Bible Dictionary -- is one of the constituent parts of justification. In pardoning sin, God absolves the sinner from the condemnation of the law, and that on account of the work of Christ, i.e., he removes the guilt of sin or the sinner's actual liability to eternal wrath on account of it. All sins are forgiven freely (Acts 5:31; 13:38; 1 John 1:6-9). The sinner is by this act of grace forever freed from the guilt and penalty of his sins. This is the peculiar prerogative of God (Ps. 130:4; Mark 2:5). It is offered to all in the gospel. (See JUSTIFICATION @ www.classic.net.bible.org) Secret Sin In “A Forgiving God in an Unforgiving World,” Ron Lee Davis retells the true story of a priest in the Philippines, a much-loved man of God who carried the burden of a secret sin he had committed many years before. He had repented but still had no peace, no sense of God’s forgiveness. In his parish was a woman who deeply loved God and who claimed to have visions in which she spoke with Christ and he with her. The priest, however, was skeptical. To test her said, “The next time you speak with Christ, I want you to ask him what sin your priest committed while he was in seminary.” The woman agreed. A few days later the priest asked., “Well, did Christ visit you in your dreams?” “Yes, he did,” she replied. “And did you ask him what sin I committed in seminary?” “Yes.” “Well, what did he say?” “He said, ‘I don’t remember’“ What God forgives, He forgets. - David H. Bolton “A Forgiving God in an Unforgiving World,” Ron Lee Davis. How is forgiveness PROCURED (gotten/obtained)? By the blood of Christ (Romans 3:24-26), "Being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." How is it SECURED by us? SECURED means "made our own/freed from risk of loss." Forgiveness is secured by faith in Christ (Acts 10:43). "To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth shall receive remission of sins."
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