Thursday, November 7, 2019



      The Bible speaks quite a bit about forgiving and being forgiven.  In one passage, we see  Luke 5:20  And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” 
But in another passage we see this: Matthew 6:14-15  For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,  but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

          In the first passage we see Jesus responding to a man's faith and granting forgiveness and in the second passage Jesus says our forgiveness is contingent upon our granting forgiveness to others.  

         To further confuse things, we read this from the Apostle John:     1 John 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

              No caveat, no fine print, just plain simple language -if you confess your sin, God forgives your sin. So how do we reconcile Jesus' words with Jesus' words and with the Apostle John also?

             Understanding the difference between positional forgiveness and relational forgiveness is the key. 

Positional Forgiveness:
             Positional Forgiveness is when we are born again and adopted as children of God through the blood of Jesus. We are positionaly forgiven.  Positional forgiveness means we take on the righteousness of Christ and all our sins, past and future, will not be held against us. This happens at salvation and does not change. 

Relational Forgiveness:
             Relational forgiveness is what we need each day to remain in fellowship with the Father.  Though we are declared righteous, we continue to sin and sin hinders our relationship with God.  Sin restricts our blessings, sin restricts our usefulness, sin restricts our answers to prayer.  

         So in the above passages, when Jesus says, "man, your sins are forgiven," based solely on the man's faith, this is positional forgiveness.  When Jesus said, "if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you," this is relational forgiveness.  Relational forgiveness does not affect our salvation but it does affect our lives and relationship with God.  Positional forgiveness declares you not guilty while relational forgiveness protects your relationship.

           OJ Simpson had a very famous trial, charged with killing his wife and a man named Ron Goldman.  When the gloves didn't fit, the jury had to acquit and OJ was declared not guilty.

           What many may not remember is there was also a civil trial where OJ was sued by the family of Ron Goldman for wrongful death.  In the civil trial, OJ was found liable and ordered to pay a hefty sum to the Goldman family.

            Positionally, OJ was not guilty and would not be punished for double murder.  Relationally, to the Goldman family, OJ is guilty.  Because OJ is relationally guilty, his reputation is forever tarnished, his acting career is over and he is not very well liked by most people.  

            Another example is, my daughter adopted a child.  That child, positionally is my grandson.  He will always be my grandson and nothing he can do can change his place in the family.  What happens if he comes over and spits in my face? Is he no longer my grandson?  No of course not, but our relationship is damaged because he has done a terrible thing.  Maybe the fishing trip I was planning with him gets canceled or the gift I bought for him is put to the side.  Now what happens when he comes over and apologizes and asks for forgiveness?  The fishing trip is back on, the gift is given and everything returns to normal.

              Positionally, my grandson never stopped being my grandson, but relationally, we were not so good until he sought forgiveness.  

                Now, just for a moment, suppose my other grandson spit in grandson number one's face.  Suppose grandson number 2 then went to grandson number 1 and apologized and asked for forgiveness but grandson number one told him to get lost.  I love them both and I want them to love one another so what happens when grandson number 1 comes to me for forgiveness for something he is not willing to forgive his brother?  I might direct him to go forgive his brother first and then come back.  I want his and my relationship restored but I also want his relationship with his brother restored.

                 Why is this important?  Well, many of us who are believers in Christ are estranged from the Father because of our unforgiveness toward others. Though positionally, you are a child of God, and going to heaven, relationally  you feel as if your prayers are not answered, you feel distance between you and God and you may not understand why.  

                When we do not forgive others, it harms us far more than it harms them.  Some of us have quite a bit to forgive , some of us have been treated horribly by someone, maybe even someone who was entrusted with our care, like a parent.  

                 Forgiveness does not mean placing yourself in danger or allowing yourself to be in a position to be harmed again. The Bible says we need to forgive, the Bible does not say we have to forget.  I may forgive you for punching me but I probably won't give you another opportunity to punch me.  

                When we fail to forgive, it does us far more harm than the person who wronged us. Often, the person who wronged us has gone off on their merry and we are not even a thought to them. But for us, we spend time hating and growing bitter and maybe even harming ourselves over it.  Forgiveness not only sets the person who wronged us free, it sets us free.  

                 So I ask  you today, are you harboring hatred or animosity toward someone?  Have you harmed yourself or others because of something someone has done to you?  Set yourself free, forgive.  Think of all the terrible things you have done and know God forgives you.  
                 Maybe the person or people you are struggling with forgiving do not deserve forgiveness.  That may be true. Do you deserve forgiveness from God?  Did Jesus deserve to die on the cross for you? 

            This is a tough thing, but a necessary thing.  If you are harboring unforgiveness in your heart, you have imprisoned yourself.  God wants to bless you and speak to you and restore your life but He will not if you cannot forgive. Do not let the actions of someone else cause you to harm your relationship with God.

            Pray, even now, ask God to grant you the grace to forgive.  If you are a believer in Christ, you are positionally righteous in the eyes of God, yet, you may need to find relational peace through forgiveness of others.

            Romans 12:17-18  Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 

          Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!