by Dr. Charles Stanley
Friday March 11, 2005
Our Forgiving Father
If we have an unforgiving spirit toward another person, we ourselves experience a form of bondage. Even worse is the emotional imprisonment that can result when we have guilt over wrongdoing and feel that God must condemn us for our sin. In that case, we do not understand divine pardon.
The Bible, which says that forgiveness belongs to God, provides a graphic demonstration of His attitude toward His children. In the familiar parable of Luke 15:11-24 the younger of two brothers takes an early inheritance and wastes it foolishly. Eventually, he has nothing left and must work among pigs, which is a truly despicable job for a Jewish man. When he returns home in despair, he is welcomed with open arms and a celebration. The son did nothing to earn his father's forgiveness and joy at his return. If we are to understand forgiveness, we must realize that God's motivation for pardoning our sins is found only in Himself and His love. Like the prodigal son, we can do nothing to earn it.
The wayward son "came to his senses" (v. 17); that is to say, he began to think the truth about himself and the situation he had created. We do the same thing when we repent - we have a change of mind. Repentance, while expected of believers, is not a requirement for forgiveness. Our forgiveness was fully taken care of at the cross, and it was applied to each of us personally when we received Christ as Savior. Our repentance is a change of mind about our actions that allows us to experience God's forgiveness without guilt.
Be sure to tell your teen about Teen Connection - the official teen outreach of In Touch Ministries. This cutting-edge web site is filled with practical content, including articles, interviews, a study guide, and devotionals, for teenagers of all spiritual maturity levels. The featured interview for March is best-selling band Caedmon's Call. Check out Teen Connection today!
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