Are You Able to Forgive Others?

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Many years ago the highest ranking official at a British mental hospital said, “I could dismiss half of my patients tomorrow if they could be assured of forgiveness.”

I believe the truth of that statement to be no less prevalent in our present culture. Further, I believe the statistics might reveal an even higher percentage of guilt-debilitated people here in the Bible-belt than there were in that British mental hospital of a generation ago. Just pause for a moment and honestly consider this matter of being assured of full forgiveness. 

Sadly, many people all around us (even in churches) are engulfed in guilt. For those outside of Christ this is understandable. They have no forgiveness from a forgiving God, and no ability to truly forgive others (Matthew 18:21-35; Luke 17:3-4). Why? – Because they do not have regenerate hearts (Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26; 2 Corinthians 5:17). In addition, because they have not been forgiven much, they are incapable of forgiving much (Luke 7:47). However, the hallmark of true Christianity is the forgiveness of sins! 

The glory of true Christianity (not the common religiosity, or prevalent churchianity) is that it begins with a God who is ready to forgive every “repentant” sinner (Psalm 86:5, “For Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in loving-kindness to all who call upon Thee”). When God forgives, He’s not partial toward forgiving some sins and not others (In fact, He is more concerned about our response to our sins, than with “the type” of sins we commit). Rather, when we come to Him in repentance, He forgives ALL of our sins (Past, present, and future).

 

Listen to Paul on this point: “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...” (Colossians 2:13). This is why we must preach the forgiveness of sins to our sin-soaked, unrepentant, unforgiven, guilt-ridden, and unforgiving world. Sinful, fallen man must “hear” the message that the Holy Spirit promises to use, “...to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:18; cf. Romans 10:17). Then, we shall see people truly delivered not only from their sin, but even from “the guilt of their sin” (Psalm 32:5)! 

Dear reader, the way to help lost sinners come to faith in Christ, is by preaching, teaching, and speaking a Christ-centered message of hope which will unveil to them God’s free-offer for the full forgiveness of all their sins.  There are many true saints of God who are crippled by unbiblical teaching (especially about this vital subject) or who are in teaching-deficient churches where they receive no help each week to live godly in a sinful world. These faint-hearted Christians (1 Thessalonians 5:14) need encouragement from the Scriptures (Romans 15:3-4). This help can only come through sound preaching, teaching, and “Biblical” counseling.

 

Therefore, it’s only a Cross-centered message that can sustain seekers by reminding them of God’s full forgiveness of their sins when they truly repent of them (Colossians 1:14; cf. Acts 17:30). And what will such Biblical (non-therapeutic) counseling produce? A people of God who will better understand that blood-bought righteous men and women continually struggle with indwelling sin (Ecclesiastes 7:20; Psalm 143:2), and battle it by constantly confessing their sins and being forgiven and cleansed from them (1 John 1:9). This practical understanding of God’s Word will enable them to become great forgivers of “all who acknowledge and repent” of their sins (Matt. 6:12, 14-15).

 

But our forgiveness is still not enough! We must also genuinely comfort the repentant that we say we have forgiven, “so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow” (2 Corinthians 2:7). I leave you with the exemplary words of the late Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: “I say to the glory of God and in utter humility that whenever I see myself before God...I am ready to forgive anybody anything.” Seek His face tomorrow with His blood-bought people! “For whoever shall call upon the Lord will be saved…faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:13, 17).

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