What is the real reason behind God’s forgiveness?
IT’S WORTH CONSIDERING
One of the first things we learn about God is that he is forgiving, and He deeply desires that we become forgiving people. But why does He forgive. If we miss this, we’ll miss one of the most important facts of Christianity. Once we understand the one and only reason, our perspective on a lot of things will change.
I suspect that the most common answers would be:
- because He loves us
- because it’s His nature to forgive
- because He is merciful
While there is truth in each of these statements, none of them answers the question, and this is where we go wrong. If we would ever comprehend the enormity and seriousness of the ways we sin against Him, we could never accept His forgiveness based solely on any of these three reasons. We would want to be forgiven, but the injustice of being forgiven for these reasons only would tear us apart.
The only acceptable answer speaks to the whole reason Christ came to earth as a man. The one and only reason why God forgives is because of the cross. His substitutionary death was necessary so that the sins for which we request forgiveness could be dealt with. All three of the statements above are true only because of the cross. It is only because of Christ’s death on the cross that God’s wrath against our sin is achieved and the righteous demands of the law are fulfilled.
AS I SEE IT
Apart from the cross of Christ, God cannot forgive, and our relationship with Him will suffer if we fail to understand this. The only way we can be forgiven is by being restored to our “pre-sin” relationship with Him by way of the atonement. God would contradict His true nature if He ever forgave us for any other reason. Pity and compassion for us have nothing to do with our forgiveness. The Apostle Paul summed this up in Colossians 2:13:
And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions…
When we look to other reasons for God’s forgiveness, we are minimizing the seriousness of our sin, and we’re all really good at that. To gain a more realistic picture of our sin, we must spend more time contemplating the cross and why it was necessary. Perhaps when we think of Christ’s death, we should think of the enormity of our sin that required such a brutal “satisfaction,” instead of simply pitying our Lord for what He endured. Perhaps this change of focus will make our next communion celebration especially meaningful.
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