“Saved” But Not Forgiven?

imgres-16Forgiveness is at the center of any relationship we will have with God. First His forgiveness of us and second our forgiveness of others. We can’t approach God unless we have received His forgiveness through Jesus Christ and His forgiveness is conditional upon us forgiving others.

We need to be forgiven for the evil we have done in our lifetime. Many people will respond that they are good people, thinking that God is keeping a balance of good actions against the evil in their lives. They hope that the good will out weigh the bad at judgment time. This really doesn’t make sense when we stop and think about it. Even in human courts we don’t do that. If you are caught stealing a car, the court does not try determining if the good you have done outweighs the act of stealing the car. It simply tries to determine if you are guilty of theft and assigns appropriate punishment if you are. It is no different with God. We are all guilty of committing evil. It may be lying, immoral acts, hating, envying or any of a long list of wrong actions and attitudes. The punishment is eternal separation from God in hell. The Word of God even says that if we break one of God’s laws we are guilty of breaking all of them. James 2:10 For whoever keeps the entire law, yet fails in one point, is guilty of breaking it all. 11 For He who said, Do not commit adultery, also said, Do not murder. So if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you are a lawbreaker.

In the cause of justice, God didn’t just close his eyes to the evil we have done. What would we think of a judge who set someone free who murdered a person we loved? Instead, God paid the penalty himself through His Son Jesus Christ. Making a trade one life for another. Romans 5:6 For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. 8 But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! 9 Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood, we will be saved through Him from wrath. 10 For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life! 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have now received this reconciliation through Him. In return we are to lay our lives down and take up a new life through Jesus Christ. Galatians 2:20 and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Today many people are trying to access the forgiveness with out exchanging their lives for Christ’s. This will not work.

The forgiveness of God brings new life to our spirits and reestablishes our relationship with Him. It removes the burden that weighs us down and refreshes us. Our conscience is restored and our hard heart is softened so we can once again hear His voice. This is the essence of the new birth.

One requirement to receive God’s forgiveness is that we must forgive others. Mark 11:25 And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your wrongdoing. [26 But if you don’t forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your wrongdoing.] Omitting this requirement has caused many people to come away defeated in their effort to reach God. We may do everything else that God requires but if we don’t forgive we are still guilty and separated from fellowship with Him. The result is a life devoid of joy and peace full of anger and bitterness.

I am very blessed to live with an amazing example of the results of forgiving others. My wife grew up in a poor family in the Philippians. Her alcoholic father beat and abused her terribly growing up. She was raped  as a young woman and became pregnant. This caused her to be persecuted and ostracized by family and community. She took a job in a Middle Eastern country where she was eventually enslaved by the family she worked for. If anyone has a reason to be filled with anger and hate it would be her. Instead she has allowed the Holy Spirit to work forgiveness in her heart. Even confronting the man who raped her face to face and forgiving him. Forgiving has completely changed her life. She is so joyful and loving that she is a people magnet. Everyone continually comments on her infectious smile.

We can all receive and give this forgiveness if we will place our faith in Jesus Christ and yield to the direction of the Holy Spirit. Only God can empower us to forgive others in this way and only God can grant us forgiveness for the evil we have done. There is no other path to eternal life and relationship with God.

Father, I pray for those who are reading these words. I ask you to show them the evil that they are guilty of and give them repentance so they can receive forgiveness. Help them to identify others that they are holding anger and resentment toward and empower them through your Holy Spirit to forgive. I ask you to bring them into close relationship with you through Jesus Christ. Amen.

* All scripture is from the Holman Christian Standard Bible

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