One of the most amazing things about God is his forgiveness. "God forgives" could be like a battle cry of the New Testament. God is a forgiving God. We are all forgiven by God, if we ask him for it. In knowing we are forgiven, we come to truly know God.
THE BIBLE ON FORGIVENESS
The New Testament gospel stresses God's forgiveness of us. In First John, we are told that the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin. We're also told if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
We lawyers use the phrase, "The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." Well, the whole truth is that God not only FORGIVES our sin, he also FORGETS our sin. This is stated twice, in Hebrews 8:12 and 10:17.
This is an amazing truth about God we struggle with.
"GOD FORGIVES, I DON'T" -- "THE LORD FORGIVES, I DON'T"
You hear these statements often in counseling and coaching.
We struggle with the fact that God forgives because we don't forgive as easily, and we surely don't forget when others do us wrong. We have memories like elephants when someone does wrong to us.
We even think about the event over and over again, and every time we replay the event, it gets worse in our minds.
FORGIVING GOD: "HOW DO I FORGIVE GOD?"
Another thing we struggle with is actually forgiving God himself. Although Paul tells us not to compare natural things with spiritual things, we most often do combine both ways of thinking together.
We tend to blame God, spiritually, for things in the natural.
We become God judgers, and God blamers. Then we have a hard time forgiving God for things that happen in the natural. We forget we live in an evil, fallen, even cursed world. We forget about human free choice and free will. We don't like to think about bad things happening to so-called good people.
Our cry is, "How do I forgive God?" We are not forgivers by nature. It's something we must learn spiritually, and it often takes time - often years. So, we struggle both with forgiving others, and forgiving God himself.
This being true, we often struggle with God's forgiveness of us. It is jokingly said, "God created man in his image, and man returns the favor." It's true: we often assume that God's nature is the same as man's nature.
It's a false assumption, but it's often a perceived reality.
But the fact is we more readily forgive God when we truly come to know that God forgives us, and that we are forgiven by God. The old saying goes: "What goes around comes around." When we accept a reality and live in it, we more readily transmit that reality.
WHY IS IT HARD TO FORGIVE GOD? WHY DO WE STRUGGLE WITH FORGIVING OTHERS?
We struggle with forgiveness because we judge everything by means of the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden. Based on the logic we get from this tree, we see things in life as being either good or bad. We judge God and people as being either right or wrong.
When we live in this realm, then bad things that people do to us are hard to forgive. Counselor's offices fill up with people who have a hard time forgiving - beginning with God, their parents, their siblings, and everyone else.
Whenever we assess and judge something as being good or bad, then we label it, and we take offense if it is bad, or if it wrongs us or hurts us. Jesus says, "Don't judge!" He also says, "Don't reason in your heart!"
There is good reason for this. When we judge and reason, it hurts us.
UNDERSTANDING GOD IS A FORGIVING GOD
In understanding that God forgives, it is necessary to know the heart of God for us. Some Christians see God as God-- legalistic, demanding, and judgmental. The gospel reveals God as Father, and even 'Abba,' which means DADDY.
Most dads don't want to condemn their kids. They want to strengthen and mature their kids. If this is true of us, how much more is it true of God?
Dads are not unforgiving toward their kids. They tend to readily forgive them when they do wrong, even if they spank them. The motivation is not to punish, as much as it is to help their kids become better. If this is true of us, how much more is it true of God? This is why God not only forgives our wrongs, but he forgets them too.
GOD IS A GIVER OF ALL GOOD THINGS
The nature of God in the gospel is that of a giver. Giving his love to his children comes with being part of the family. John says God IS love. Love is who he is, not just a quality he has. It seems sacrilegious to say Father must love us, if we are family. But this is the truth of the gospel. Our Abba cannot deny who he is.
I say it often: you only experience the reality of his love in gospel truth. You can never experience it living under any type of law.
In Luke 15:31, the Father says, "ALL that I have is yours." Jesus also communicates this reality in Luke 12:32 when he says it the Father's good pleasure to GIVE us his kingdom -- meaning all things of his kingdom. Paul says we have ALL the blessings of God (Eph 1:3), and he repeats himself twice for emphasis when he tells us 'ALL things are yours' (I Cor 3:21-22).
I Corinthians 2:12 says that part of the Holy Spirit's ministry to us is to show us ALL the things that are freely given to us by God. Even if we MISS something, he shows it to us. This is how God is with us. He's a giver - beginning with forgiveness and love.
GOOD THINGS COME KNOWING GOD FORGIVES US
In receiving the forgiveness of God, we also come to know the incomprehensible, unconditional love of God for us. It's not something we can understand in our minds because our minds are too often influenced by our unforgiveness.
But when we truly get a handle on the spiritual reality that God forgives - and God even FORGETS our sin, then everything in life takes on a new dynamic and paradigm.
Coming into the realization of this does not cause us to become greater sinners. It instead causes us worship and love God like never before. And this also creates total mental and emotional health in us.