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Forgiveness

(12 posts)

Forgive Yourself

Friday··2006·05·26 · 7 Comments
Tim Challies posted a good article today on discernment. The topic he chose to address in his discernment excercise, self-forgiveness, caught my attention and inspired a few thoughts. You would probably benefit from reading his post first. I can’t think of a single Biblical example of anyone sinning against himself. It just doesn’t happen. The real motive of “self-forgiveness” is to put it all behind us. We are not supposed to do that. Continuing regret over sins of the past, although forgiven, is a good thing. Three main points come to mind: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” may not be a Scriptural proverb, but it definitely is a truism. Forgetting past sins means forgetting the lessons learned from them. Gratitude to God requires us to remember our sin. How can we remember how much we have been forgiven if we forget our sin? The memory of our sins should serve to increase our love for God (Luke 7:47). The desire to put it behind us is really a desire to justify increased self-love. The memory of our sin should cause us to abound in grace towards those who sin against us (Matthew 18:23-35). Remembering sin is not the same as wallowing in it. If you’re doing that, your problem is not guilt, but pride. It is only pride that makes you focus on yourself and suffer from so-called low self-esteem. Get over yourself. Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. Remember how much you have been forgiven, and give thanks. Never forget.

The Gospel in Spider-Man 3

Thursday··2007·05·10 · 7 Comments
I have previously written on this subject here, and now I’ve been reminded of it again. As we watched Spiderman 3 the other night, this statement from the movie grabbed my attention: “First, you must do the hardest thing. You must forgive yourself.” Concerning that, I have two things to say. First, assuming we buy the psychoskubalon of self-forgiveness (as though such a thing as a sin against self exists), it is not hard to forgive ourselves. What could be more self-indulgent? and what is more definitive of human nature than self-indulgence? Letting ourselves off the hook for our sins is as natural as breathing. Second, in answer to the objection, “Well, you know, it’s not a Christian movie. You can’t expect them to get it right,” I reply, “You’re right. In fact, I should expect them to get it wrong; and when they do, I should be prepared to say so.” You see, whenever anyone, whether Christian, Roman Catholic, Jew, Muslim, or atheist opens his mouth on anything touching on God, theology, or spirituality, he is obligated to get it right. God will accept nothing less. There is only one God, one Way, one Truth, one Life. God makes no allowance for false theology, even due to ignorance. "But it’s just a movie. It’s just entertainment. No one came to hear a sermon.” But they did hear a sermon—a moralistic, man-centered sermon. A sermon that leads away from Christ, even while promoting moral character. That is damning, and it needs an answer. This does not mean you can’t go see Spiderman 3 and enjoy it for the entertaining (though mediocre) work of ignorant men that it is. Just be prepared to answer those who praise the good moral of the story with the true Gospel.

Forgive Yourself—One more thing …

Thursday··2007·07·05 · 9 Comments
A little more than a year ago I posted a short article called Forgive Yourself, in which I said that, as there is no such thing as a sin against self, there is no need or possibility of self-forgiveness. Today, an astute reader asked a question that deserved an answer, and I thought I would post it here for your consideration. She asked, What about committing fornication? God clearly states in the Bible that that is a sin against yourself—and there are those in the Bible who did commit fornication. How does one personally repent of these sins against themselves? How do we ask God’s forgiveness? How does this sin differ from others? I answered, That’s a reasonable question. I assume you’re referring to 1 Corinthians 6:18 Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Sinning against your body is not sinning against yourself. Your body is not you. The real you is your soul, or mind. Your body is simply the vessel that you live in during this life. Furthermore, your body does not belong to you. Verses 19–20 continue: Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. So, a sin against your body is actually a sin against God alone. After further consideration, I would add that not even you, that is, your soul, belongs to you, so there really is no way you can sin against yourself.

“Humble under a sense of much forgiveness”

Thursday··2007·08·23 · 1 Comments
If we find it difficult to forgive, it is surely a sign that we don’t understand the wretched state from which we have been saved. John Piper writes: When [John Newton] wrote his Narrative in the early 1760s he said, “I know not that I have ever since met so daring a blasphemer.” The hymn we know as “Amazing Grace” was written to accompany a New Year’s sermon based on 1 Chronicles 17:16, “Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?’” Amazing grace!—how sweet the sound— That saved a wretch like me, I once was lost, but now am found, Was blind but now I see. The effect of this amazement is tenderness toward others. “[The ‘wretch’ who has been saved by grace] believes and feels his own weakness and unworthiness, and lives upon the grace and pardoning love of his Lord. This gives him an habitual tenderness and gentleness of spirit. Humble under a sense of much forgiveness to himself, he finds it easy to forgive others.” He puts it in a picture: A company of travelers fall in to a pit: one of them gets a passenger to draw him out. Now he should not be angry with the rest for falling in; nor because they are not yet out, as he is. He did not pull himself out: instead, therefore, of reproaching them, he should show them pity. . . . A man, truly illuminated, will no more despise others, than Bartimaeus, after his own eyes were opened, would take a stick, and beat every blind man he met. Glad-hearted, grateful lowliness and brokenness as a saved “wretch” was probably the most prominent root of Newton’s habitual tenderness with people. —John Piper, The Roots of Endurance (Crossway, 2002), 72–73.

Linking about Thinking

Tuesday··2010·11·02
I just can’t blog today. I am much too worried about the outcome of today’s elections.* Instead, I am going to direct your attention to two articles posted today that address the foolishness of modern Christianity. I’ve already shared these links via Google, Facebook, and Twitter, and now I’m posting them here in the main column, so that should tell you how strongly I feel about these issues. The first, by Jared Moore, deals with psychic Christianity: Why is That Christian Dressed Up Like a Psychic?. The second, by Dan Phillips, debunks one manifestation of psycho-Christianity: How to forgive yourself: a Biblely appraisal. Read and think. * Not really. Even if Vladimir Ilyich himself was on the ballot—you know, like two years ago—and won—like two years ago—I’d still know that God was on his throne, directing all things according to his good pleasure.

Forgive Yourself (repeat with update)

Thursday··2011·03·24
Originally posted 26 May 2006. Tim Challies posted a good article today on discernment. The topic he chose to address in his discernment excercise, self-forgiveness, caught my attention and inspired a few thoughts. You would probably benefit from reading his post first. I can’t think of a single Biblical example of anyone sinning against himself. It just doesn’t happen. The real motive of “self-forgiveness” is to put it all behind us. We are not supposed to do that. Continuing regret over sins of the past, although forgiven, is a good thing. Three main points come to mind: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” may not be a Scriptural proverb, but it definitely is a truism. Forgetting past sins means forgetting the lessons learned from them. Gratitude to God requires us to remember our sin. How can we remember how much we have been forgiven if we forget our sin? The memory of our sins should serve to increase our love for God (Luke 7:47). The desire to put it behind us is really a desire to justify increased self-love. The memory of our sin should cause us to abound in grace towards those who sin against us (Matthew 18:23-35). Remembering sin is not the same as wallowing in it. If you’re doing that, your problem is not guilt, but pride. It is only pride that makes you focus on yourself and suffer from so-called low self-esteem. Get over yourself. Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. Remember how much you have been forgiven, and give thanks. Never forget. Update: That was almost five years ago. Reading it now, I wonder how I could have left out one very important point: You’re not God, and presuming to forgive yourself puts yourself in his place. It is really just another expression of the idolatry of self. If you have turned to God in faith, repenting of your sin, you are forgiven. It is finished, once and for all. That’s all there is to it. What can you add to God’s grace?

Hymns of My Youth II: The Old rugged Cross

Saturday··2012·02·11
In a way, this is a quintessential evangelical gospel song, with it’s emphasis on how I feel and what I’ll do. On the other hand, it does present a broad picture of what Christ accomplished on the cross: pardon, sanctification, and finally, glorification. The Old rugged Cross On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, The emblem of suff’ring and shame; And I love that old cross where the dearest and best For a world of lost sinners was slain. Refrain So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, Till my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross, And exchange it some day for a crown. O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world, Has a wondrous attraction for me; For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above To bear it to dark Calvary. Refrain In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine, A wondrous beauty I see, For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died, To pardon and sanctify me. Refrain To the old rugged cross I will ever be true; Its shame and reproach gladly bear; Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away, Where His glory forever I’ll share. Refrain —Great Hymns of the Faith (Zondervan, 1968).

“He who is forgiven little, loves little”

Friday··2013·11·22
Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.” And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.” “A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.” Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:36–50 This is why depravity needs to be the cornerstone of every gospel presentation: Without a quickened awareness of our depravity, we are Pharisees at best, though most of us are far worse. The best we can approach is a religious performance that brings glory to us and leaves us looking down on everybody else, just the way many Christians today look down on the rest of society, the Pharisee gazing down on the abortion doctor and the pervert. Jesus knew Pharisees well, and He didn’t like them. Far better to Him was the sinful woman who burst in at the home of a Pharisee named Simon and threw herself at Jesus’ feet. Jesus said to him: “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. . . . Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Luke 7:44, 47). Awe and gratitude drive the true Christian life and draw us joyfully to God’s grace in Christ. It is from the pit of our lost condition that we gaze up toward a God so high and perfect in His holiness. But from that vantage point we come to see fully at least one of those four dimensions of the cross that Paul would long to have us know: its height. The cross of Christ then rises up to span the full and vast distance that marks how far short we are of the glory of God, and that cross becomes exceedingly precious in our eyes. —Richard D. Phillips, What’s So Great about the Doctrines of Grace? (Reformation Trust, 2008), 31–32.

In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: The Old Rugged Cross

Saturday··2016·02·27
The Old rugged CrossBeing found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:8 On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, The emblem of suff’ring and shame; And I love that old cross where the dearest and best For a world of lost sinners was slain. Refrain So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, Till my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross, And exchange it some day for a crown. O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world, Has a wondrous attraction for me; For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above To bear it to dark Calvary. Refrain In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine, A wondrous beauty I see; For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died, To pardon and sanctify me. Refrain To the old rugged cross I will ever be true, Its shame and reproach gladly bear; Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away, Where His glory forever I’ll share. Refrain —The Hymnal for Worship & Celebration (Word Music).

Hope for the Vilest Sinner

Thursday··2017·04·27
Guilt is a powerful thing. It is necessary that we know our guilt, or we would never come to Christ for forgiveness. But once we come to him, we must know that there is no sin beyond his ability to forgive. Just as no saint is good enough to be justified before God, no sinner is to wicked to be forgiven. But to suppose the worst, what if you were really the vilest sinner that ever lived upon the face of the earth? What if “your iniquities had gone up into the heavens” every day, and “your transgressions had reached unto the clouds, Rev. xviii. 5.” reached thither with such horrid aggravations, that earth and heaven should have had reason to detest you as a monster of impiety? Admitting all this, “is any thing too hard for the Lord? Gen. xviii. 14.” Are any sins, of which a sinner can repent, of so deep a dye, that the blood of Christ cannot wash them away? Nay, though it would be daring wickedness and monstrous folly, for any “to sin that grace may abound, Rom. vi. 1.” yet had you indeed raised your account beyond all that divine grace has ever yet pardoned, who should “limit the holy One of Israel? Psal. lxxviii. 41.” or who shall pretend to say, that it is impossible that God may, for your very wretchedness, choose you out from others, to make you a monument of mercy, and a trophy of hitherto unparalleled grace? The apostle Paul strongly intimates this to have been the case with regard to himself; and why might not you likewise, if indeed “the chief of sinners,” obtain mercy, that in you, as the chief, “Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them who shall hereafter believe? 1 Tim. i. 15, 16.” —Philip Doddridge, The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul (Robert Porter, 1810), 109. The vilest offender who truly believes, That moment from Jesus a pardon receives. —Fanny Crosby

As We Forgive

Friday··2018·03·23
In the “Lord’s Prayer,” we read, “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” In Matthew 18:23–35, Jesus describes two men who each owed a debt. One owed a small sum to the other who, in turn, owed an enormous sum to his master that he could never hope to repay. The master forgave the huge debt of the one, who then refused to remit the small debt of the other. R. C. Sproul values the two debts at roughly $10 million and $18. Interestingly enough, both men asked for the same thing—more time, not a total release from the debt. It was comical for the man with the exorbitantly large debt to ask for more time, since even by today’s wage standards the amount owed was an astronomical figure. The daily wage at that time was approximately eighteen cents. The man with the small debt could have paid his debt in three months. His request for more time was not unreasonable, but his creditor, rather than expressing the forgiveness he had received, began to harass him. The point should be clear. Our offenses to each other and the offenses people do to us are like an $18 debt, while the innumerable offenses we have committed against the Lord God are like the $10 million debt. Jonathan Edwards, in his famous sermon “The Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners,” said that any sin is more or less heinous, depending on the honor and majesty of the one whom we have offended. Since God is of infinite honor, infinite majesty, and infinite holiness, the slightest sin is of infinite consequence. Such seemingly trivial sins are nothing less than “cosmic treason” when viewed in light of the great King against whom we have sinned. We are debtors who cannot pay, yet we have been released from the threat of debtors’ prison. It is an insult to God for us to withhold forgiveness and grace from those who ask us, while claiming to be forgiven and saved by grace ourselves. There is another important point to consider here. Even in our act of forgiveness there is no merit. We cannot commend ourselves to God and claim forgiveness merely because we have shown forgiveness to someone else. Our forgiveness in no way obligates God toward us. Luke 17:10 clearly points out that there is no merit even in the best of our good works: “When you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” We deserve nothing for our obedience, because obedience—even to the point of perfection—is the minimal requirement of a citizen of God’s kingdom. Having done that duty, the only thing we could claim would be a lack of punishment, but certainly no reward, because we would have done only what was expected. Obedience never qualifies as service “above and beyond the call of duty.” However, we have not obeyed; we have sinned grievously. Therefore, we are merely in a position to prostrate ourselves before God and beg for His forgiveness. But if we do, we must be prepared to show that forgiveness ourselves; otherwise our position in Christ dangles precariously. The bottom line of what Jesus is saying is this: “Forgiven people forgive other people.” We dare not claim to be possessors of His life and nature and at the same time fail to exhibit that life and nature. —R. C. Sproul, Does Prayer Change Things? (Tyndale, 2009), 36–38.

Why Seek Forgiveness?

Monday··2018·03·26
Christians sometimes ask, “If God has already forgiven us, why should we ask for forgiveness? Isn’t it wrong to ask for something he has already given us?” R. C. Sproul replies, The ultimate answer to questions like this is always the same. We do it because God commands it. First John 1:9 points out that one mark of a Christian is his continual asking for forgiveness. The verb tense in the Greek indicates an ongoing process. The desire for forgiveness sets the Christian apart. The unbeliever rationalizes his sinfulness, but the Christian is sensitive to his unworthiness. Confession takes up a significant portion of his prayer time. —R. C. Sproul, Does Prayer Change Things? (Tyndale, 2009), 38–39.

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