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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What Is the Cost of Forgiveness?

Forgiveness is a big thing in the Christian faith.  The fact that we need forgiveness is central to living a Christian life.  One of the most important issues in understanding forgiveness is, first we must understand grace.  Grace means the unmerited favor of God.  That sounds very clinical or academic.  When I try to take it apart and understand it, I get fewer answers than I started with.  Unmerited means undeserved, doesn’t it?  Does it mean I don’t deserve to be forgiven?  Why would God forgive me if I don’t deserve it?  By what standard does God measure forgiveness? 

Let’s try this again.  Grace is the overflowing love of God poured out on people who believe in him even though he knows they have sinned.  OK so God loves me, maybe like I love my children, in spite of or regardless of their mistakes, faults, or bad judgments.  Pretty close, I think; maybe not exactly, but we’re getting there.  He forgives me, not because I have paid anything or worked in the yard or cleaned my room.  He forgives me just because he said he would.

No!  He forgives me because there is a cost on sin, and somebody else has paid that cost.  Jesus paid the cost by dying.  His blood satisfied God’s righteousness and covered my sin so that all God sees in me is the blood of Jesus. 

Now, let’s move on to how I can appropriate this forgiveness.  Doesn’t it just flow down on my unaltered soul?  No!  It does not. 

Time for an illustration:  Suppose you have money and a desire to spend it.  You want something new.  You look at the want ads in the paper or on the internet.  You find someone who has something to sell.  You call him. 
“Can we make a deal?”  You are very anxious to get the item.
“You bet!”  He is very anxious to sell.

What is the problem with this transaction?  Nobody has shown the item yet.  We don’t even have a description.  The old saying is, “You don’t buy a pig in a poke.”  For those of you who never heard the old men talk, a poke is a sack.  You don’t buy a pig you can’t see.  I get the sense that God may not be anymore duped than the pig buyer.  He wants to know what he is forgiving.  What is the contract?

I John 1:9 says that if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  This lays out the terms of the contract.  We know our part and he will honor the transaction. 

After we have stated what the sin is, and we acknowledge that we committed it, and we see it like he sees it, he says it is forgiven because Jesus took care of the cost.  Now we can have a restored relationship.  We have a chance to fellowship again.  Try it!  You might like it.