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God’s Example of Forgiveness

We hear lots of messages about the importance of forgiveness, but I believe the prime motivator to forgive is the example God gives. Ephesians 4:32 instructs us, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Throughout the scriptures, both old and new testaments, God demonstrates His character, including forgiveness for sins.

Defining Sin

A clear definition of sin must be given, not assuming what you know. The Bible tells us that God Almighty sets the standards for what is right and wrong, starting back at the beginning, the creation of the world. He set a moral code at Mount Sinai with the nation of Israel, which was passed down to us through Jesus Christ in the gospels, otherwise known as the ten commandments. These standards are meant to keep us safe, and to help us focus on the worship of God that we are meant to do. Sin is the act of transgressing the law, or missing the mark of God’s standards.

Need for Forgiveness

Unfortunately, we humans are born with what the Bible calls a ‘sin nature,’ which is the natural tendency to sin. In fact, Romans 3:23 reminds us that ‘all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.’ So, there does not go a day without the need for forgiveness. We all make mistakes, against God and against each other. This is not meant to depress us. It is frustrating, but God has always held out an ‘olive branch’ of hope. Right from the start, He has offered a way to receive forgiveness. In the Old Testament, a temporary way was given, sacrifices to be made covering sins. All this pointed to the full, planned, solution: Jesus Christ would come and die in payment for all sins of all time, thus making possible the forgiveness of sins for those wanting it.

God’s Forgiveness

God’s example of giving forgiveness is a demonstration of His great love for us.

1. It is paid for. His love is unconditional, so God gives freely opportunity for forgiveness to those who choose to receive it. The cost has already been covered, by the blood of Jesus Christ. In Matthew 26:28 Jesus says, “This is My blood, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.”

2. It is for all people. God loves all of mankind, and so gives opportunity for all to receive His forgiveness. There is no one of any nationality or age that is excluded from this offer. Psalm 103:8-10 reminds us, “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.”

3. It is for all sins. This forgiveness is offered for all sins, except the sin of rejecting God (Mark 3:28-29), which is blaspheme against the Holy Spirit of God.

4. It is offered first. God offers forgiveness before we even ask for it. Jesus prayed (Luke 23:34), ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.’ Daniel also reminds us of this, (Daniel 9:9) “To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him”

5. It is final. God has a great big ocean where He throws our sins, then He puts up a No Fishing! sign. Isaiah tells us (43:25, also Jeremiah 31:34), “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” If you find yourself being reminded of past sins, it is either something you have yet to confess and receive forgiveness for, or it is the devil trying to discourage you.

6. It is Restorative. The purpose of forgiveness is to restore fellowship. Pastor John Piper has said, “Forgiveness is essentially God’s way of removing the great obstacle to our fellowship with him. By canceling our sin and paying for it with the death of his own Son, God opens the way for us to see him and know him and enjoy him forever. Seeing and savoring him is the goal of forgiveness. Soul-satisfying fellowship with our Father is the aim of the cross.”

Take Home

The big idea that you need to take from this article is this: everyone is in need of forgiveness, and God gives it in abundance, available for all. Once we begin to look at the concept of forgiving others, God’s example is where our focus must be.

Upcoming

Forgiveness II – Receiving Forgiveness

Forgiveness III – Giving Forgiveness

Forgiveness IV – Benefits of Forgiveness



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