WHAT FORGIVENESS IS…AND ISN’T
To forgive is a difficult thing. To be forgiven is a terrifying thing. Forgiveness is serious, serious business, because it requires the shedding of blood. Forgiveness is not a cheap, throw-away declaration: “Oh, that’s okay…I forgive you.” It is a transaction that is bathed in blood every time it takes place.
Many people have the mistaken idea that forgiveness eliminates the fact of our sin. It does not. Sin does not just “disappear” when we say we are sorry. It must be dealt with. Through the blood of Christ, our sin is covered, but it is not magically made to disappear. The prodigal son went to the far country… and every scar
he received there he carried home. His sins were forgiven by his father, but they did not go away. Neither does forgiveness eradicate the consequences of sin. The universal laws of cause and effect are not superceded by forgiveness. Sin’s consequences remain. The thing that forgiveness does is set up the possibility for restoration of relationship.
We know that forgiveness requires repentance, and we’re pretty good repent-ers. But forgiveness, when possible, also involves restitution, so that restoration can be achieved. It costs us to forgive, and it costs us to be forgiven. Anyone who offers or expects easy, cheap forgiveness has yet to come to terms with the seriousness of sin.
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