Summary: The way I forgive others should look like the way God has forgiven me in Christ.
Today, we are going to conclude our thoughts on this passage. We made note last time of how Paul tells what it will look like when we
forgive others. It will look like what God has done for us in Christ through the cross - v. 32. Last time, we said that . . .
1. In forgiving us, God did not deny the fact of our sin.
When we sin, it breaks the heart of God (v. 30). God gets emotional about our sin against Him. It hurts. In forgiving us, He is honest about the pain our sin causes Him.
Likewise, in forgiving others, we are not asked to deny the reality of the offense or the depth of the hurt. In fact, facing the reality of having been hurt is essential to our experiencing the healing and wholeness that comes from forgiving others.
2. In forgiving us, God did not approve of our sin.
Sometimes, people withhold forgiveness until the other person changes their behavior. But God didn’t do that with us. God never approved of our sin. God hates sin. But He loves the sinner. So, in Christ, God took the initiative to provide forgiveness for the whole world.
Just as God’s forgiveness does not mean He approves of our sinfulness, we are not expected to approve or excuse the other person’s offense when we forgive. But we are expected to take the initiative to forgive.
3. In forgiving us, God has given us a “clean slate.”
The idea is not that God has amnesia regarding our sin, but that He will never bring them up again. When the Bible says that God “remembers our sins no more,” (Hebrews 8:12) it is referring to what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV), when he declares that love “keeps no record of wrongs.”
Likewise, when we forgive other person their offense, we must choose that we will not let this offense remain a barrier in our relationship with the other person. We will “keep no record of wrongs” to “throw up” to the person the next time they offend us.
Now, let’s consider two additional thoughts about what forgiveness looks like as we think together about How God has forgiven us in Christ through the cross.
4. In forgiving us, God assumed the price for our sin.
Again, forgiveness says “no” to revenge. This is Paul’s point in verse 31. Forgiveness, says, “I will trust God to work justice in this matter, and accept that for whatever purpose God has in mind, He has allowed me to experience this injustice.”
This doesn’t mean we become a doormat for others; or that we allow ourselves to be hurt further. But it does mean that we trust God and
allow Him to use the experience to work out His purposes in our life.
“We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.” - Romans 8:28 (Amplified)
Joseph understood this.
“And Joseph said to them, Fear not; for am I in the place of God? [Vengeance is His, not mine.] As for you, you thought evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring about that many people should be kept alive, as they are this day.” - Genesis 50:19-20 (Amplified)
Joseph trusted vengeance to God, choose to accept the penalty for the sins of his brothers; and trusted God to work out His purposes through his suffering. This choice eventually provided blessing to Joseph’s brothers.
Isn’t that what Jesus did? Jesus trusted vengeance to the Father, choose to accept the penalty for our sins; and trusted the Father to work out His purposes in His suffering. This choice has brought blessing to us.
Even so, when we forgive, we are trusting vengeance to God, and choosing to accept the penalty for the other person’s sin. And in doing so, we are also trusting God to work out His purposes in our suffering; and that choice can bring blessing to those we forgive.
The chief blessing being the same blessing that God’s forgiveness in Christ choice has provided to us.
5. In forgiving us, God made our reconciliation with Him possible.
When did God forgive you of your sins? When you trusted Christ as your Savior? No. God actually forgave you long before you repented and chose to be reconciled to Him through faith in Christ.
The Bible teaches God decided to forgive our sins in eternity past.
Jesus Christ is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” - Revelation 13:8 (KJV).
“He paid for our sins with His own blood - He did not pay for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world” - 1 John 2:2 (New Life Translation)