Pastor Brian Gilroy,
High Prairie Church of the Nazarene
The Bible states in verses 11 and 12 of Psalm 103, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
These verses have to do with God’s compassion on a rebellious creation. Everyone of us at one time or another has sinned against God. And yet, if we confess or admit our sins against God and ask for His forgiveness – He will forgive us [1 John 1:9].
In Isaiah, Chapter 53 and especially Verse 6, we read the consequences of our sin as it relates to the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Saviour:
“We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him [on Jesus Christ] the iniquity of us all.”
I challenge each of us to reread Isaiah 53 in its entirety and then read the account of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ in the first four books of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The price paid for our arrogance, self centeredness, and works directed salvation [man’s plan] was huge.
Yet, despite, our rejection of the true Saviour, Jesus Christ knowing all this still followed through and gave His life for you – the righteous for the unrighteous. This is grace. We are saved by God’s grace.
Ephesians 2:8,9 says: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Most of us, maybe even all of us, have at one time or another recited the Lord’s Prayer. How often have we asked God to forgive our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us? Funny thing about forgiveness. We expect others to apologize for hurting our feelings or making discriminatory comments about our ethnic origin but quite often we are unwilling to admit when we do the exact same thing.
Instead of offering forgiveness, like God does. Or admitting our mistakes, we ignore the whole thing and hope it goes away. We often harbour grudges and do not exercise forgiveness but try to exact revenge upon those who have wronged us.
Many religions incorporate offering prayers for forgiveness to their deity which illustrates the universal truth that we all sin. The difference is how we as individuals believe forgiveness is obtained. Most religions or faiths instruct their believers or followers to perform a list of works-based actions to receive the blessing of their deity or to achieve a greater degree of clarity or to draw closer to a pre-determined achievable goal of enlightenment.
Christianity says that we will never be able to achieve a level of acceptability before God through our own works.
“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” [Isaiah 64:6]
In Christianity, the level of acceptability before God is based upon the grace of God through the faith God gives us because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary. Jesus Christ paid the price for our forgiveness.
If God is willing to offer this to each one, including those who use His Name as a swearing phrase, then who are we to withhold true forgiveness from those who sin against us?
We will always have people who conduct their lives as if there was no God or their charitable works or good living will outweigh their sins. People whose only goal is to glorify themselves and so forgiveness if it happens, happens on their terms, not God’s terms.
However, the reality is that the Living God who created everything that exists is the only one with the authority to make the rules by which we live and will eventually be judged.
So, when you offer or expect forgiveness, on whose terms do you rely? Terms defined by man and society or terms defined by God.
For me, I trust in Jesus Christ and the grace of God extended to me through His work on the Cross and not by any works of righteousness that I could ever do.