Is considering the offensive actions of those around us with whom we come into contact (whether they are directed toward us or not) the direct opposite of forgiveness? Or in other words is forgiveness the absence of offense towards anyone period?Joe
Hello my brother Joe!!
Good question. Forgiveness is the miraculous work of God through Christ whereby He does not count men’s sins against them. This is the same forgiveness we are called to recognize, for in Christ there truly is no offense because this is the realm of the new creation.
In order to hold someone’s sins against them we would not only have to view that person according to what he or she is in the flesh, we would also have to view them according to our former done-away-with mindset. This is double insanity as it assumes that the flesh is anything other than condemned already in Christ, and it assumes that there is some value in viewing according to that old mind.
Now, when we recognize what comes from where - as in the works of the flesh naturally coming forth from the flesh - we will not be oblivious, or blind, to those deeds, but we will never be surprised. We will understand that they know not what they do.
So, to hold sin against someone is the opposite of not holding sin against someone, and yes, forgiveness means that the offense has been removed. But don’t confuse it with a feeling, for it is a reality.
I can remember the total confusion and failure in trying to “feel” as if I had “forgiven” someone. This only has us thinking that forgiveness is a state of mind, or an attitude, or a mental exertion of will, or even a choice - but it is not, it is a reality.
In this insane thinking we consider forgiveness as something that comes and goes based on whether or not we are holding it vs. letting it go. But the release of the offense is secure in Christ, and when we view ourselves and those around us according to the miracle we “see” it!! :) And vice versa.
Paul’s admonition, “… forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has also forgiven you …” does not come to us as a deed needing to be done, but as the miraculous needing to be recognized! Forgiving is not something anybody can “do”, for it is as you said, “the absence of offense”. The fleshly mind HOLDS sin, while Christ has taken it away. In truth, there is NOTHING to hold.
Looking forward to more thoughts! :)
I really appreciated your response to my question about forgiveness. The reason that I asked is that I am finding myself in a tough situation with the fellowship that we attend. Up until lately I have found the teaching right on. But lately the teacher has really been hammering away at a precept that he believes with regard to whether the teachings of Jesus Christ, that are found in the gospels, is applicable in the present dispensation that we are living in. He basically states that Paul is teaching something different then what Jesus taught and that Jesus’ teachings were only applicable to a pre-cross dispensation. Do you think my concern is valid?Joe
Many have sensed a conflict between what Jesus said about forgiveness versus what Paul said about forgiveness, but the truth of the matter is that Jesus addressed the self-righteous religious mindset of those who appeared as the forgiven ones, while Paul addressed those who were truly forgiven. Sure, there’s an important consideration in recognizing that Jesus’ words came before the cross, while Paul’s came after. But this fact does not negate what Jesus had to say as the same things can still be stated toward those who only hold to a form of godliness. The things Jesus said still cut right through the bogus claims or projections of superiority from men who stand upon official dogma.
Truthfully, though, I wouldn’t be too concerned about this teacher’s desire to make a distinction between what he sees as an old vs. new viewpoint of forgiveness regarding Jesus and Paul’s words. Why do I say this? Because, from his viewpoint, he thinks he is making a scriptural distinction between law and grace because he is assuming that Jesus’ words are somehow legalistic instead of making a blow to the legalistic mindset. This dispensational method of dealing with troublesome verses (from law-based teaching, that is) gives those who believe in free grace and total forgiveness an alternative to the usual attempt to mix the grace they love with the law they came out of. Are you following me here?
My advice is that you listen carefully to what this guy is saying - which you have already described as right on - and continue to enjoy it, and then maybe little by little share what you see as a long-held misunderstanding of the verses in the gospel accounts. Many seem to automatically assume that Jesus’ words must have been legalistic simply because it is the context in which they (and most of our society) have heard it presented. I’m constantly challenging the fear I hear coming out of those who are still trying to convince themselves that Jesus’ words would have been legalistic since grace came through HIM. You know what I mean? :)