Forgiveness. Nothing is more foreign to sinful human nature. And nothing is more characteristic of divine grace.
Fallen humanity finds God's forgiveness terribly hard to understand. As individual sinners, we all know firsthand what a struggle it can be to forgive others who have wronged us. Some people therefore find it impossible to envision Almighty God as anything other than stern and unforgiving. Others, knowing that Scripture teaches us God is merciful, imagine that He is so completely indulgent that no sinner really has anything to fear. Both misconceptions are fatally wrong concerning divine forgiveness.
Compounding that problem, our attitude toward forgiveness tends to vary, depending on which side of the equation we look at.
When we are on the receiving end of mercy, we naturally esteem forgiveness as one of the highest of all virtues. But when we are the aggrieved party, forgiveness often seems a gross violation of justice!
And yet, all would no doubt recognize both justice and mercy as great virtues. Who among us does not desire to be forgiven when we know we have done wrong? And who does not despise injustice, particularly when we are the ones against whom a wrong has been committed?
So how do we reconcile these two great virtues, justice and mercy? More important, how can God reconcile them? If He hates injustice, how can He countenance the forgiveness of a transgressor? How can a perfectly holy God pardon sinners?
That's easy for God, you may be thinking. After all, He can simply choose to forgive us and declare all our offenses null and void. He can just excuse the sinner and let sin go unpunished.
But that is a deficient view of God and an unbiblical way of looking at forgiveness. God cannot and will not simply acquit transgressors by ignoring the evil they have done. To do so would be unjust, and God is a God of perfect justice.
Here we must be extremely careful to keep our thinking biblical. Some people tend to take the grace and forgiveness of God for granted, while ignoring His absolute righteousness. Others thunder a lot about the justice of God, while saying little about His grace.
Both truths must be kept in balance if we are to understand what Scripture teaches about forgiveness. ~ Excerpts from John MacArthur's book,"The Freedom and Power of Forgiveness."
Truths read in the wee hours to a teary-eye friend who is wrestling with an unforgiving heart.
"He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." ~ 2 Corinthians 5:21