Question: Would God ask us to do what He Himself is not willing to do?
Example: How many times are we to forgive someone when they sin against us?
As soon as I provide that example I’m pretty sure you know what scripture verse is coming next.
Matthew 18:21-22 NKJV “Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”
Interesting that Jesus chose that particular number isn’t it? Jesus could have said sixty times six or fifty times five but He specifically chose seventy times seven. Students of the Bible know that scripture represents seven as the number of completeness. Not to mention that seventy times seven would equate to 490 times if one would go to the bother of actually enumerating the number of offences, which I’m pretty sure is the point that Jesus is getting at. That is what God asks us to do. Forgive, time and time again. Just like we have been forgiven, time and time again. In essence, Jesus is saying that God’s grace and forgiveness is infinite for those who are truly seeking it and He asks us to forgive accordingly.
1 John 1:9 NKJV “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Note that we are to acknowledge our sin as being sin. Note that we are to confess that we have committed the sin and note that this scripture states that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
About now I’m also pretty sure that my fellow Bible students out there have this next scripture verse at the ready.
Romans 6:1-4 NKJV “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
What Paul is talking about here is a pattern of ever deepening commitment wherein the Christian believer will not habitually sin in a particular area of sin, over and over again. The short story is that sooner or later, if one is honestly endeavouring to follow God’s will for our lives, the sins that encumber us, even habitual sins, will fall to the wayside. Does that falling to the wayside all happen overnight in all areas? It can, but in the vast majority of cases that I am aware of, including my own sins, it is a progressive and constantly relinquishing experience. The Apostle Paul talks about this reality in great depth in Romans, chapters 5 through 8.
You and I both know that one can find scripture verses that will appear to contradict one another. A good example is the actual subject of sin. One verse says we don’t sin and another verse says that if we deny we sin, the truth is not in us.
1 John 3:8-9 NKJV “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.”
1 John 1:8 NKJV “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
As in all things scriptural, context is always key and the perspective that is being highlighted is that particular angle being discussed, as part of the whole. To understand the whole, you have to be able to look at the subject matter from all of the different scriptural perspectives.
This whole area of understanding the whole of scripture on a particular subject, such as sin, is where Satan has a field day with a lot of Christians, in my opinion.
We have all been raised in a performance based environment where good things are rewarded and bad things are not. Share our candy and we’re smiled upon, horde it all to ourselves and we’re looked on as being selfish. We’ve all been through the drill in just about every aspect of our lives and our thinking has become conditioned to appling this logical way of thinking and reacting to others, and also in judging ourselves.
Performance based approval is where we earn, through our thoughts, words and actions, the respect and approval of others. And, unfortunately, in far too many cases, we apply that logic or thinking, to the status of our relationship with God. When we think we have done something good, we think God approves of us and when we mess up, we think that God disapproves of us.
Unfortunately, for lack of better words, according to God’s Word that I read, we have it ass backwards. And there is an awful lot of that backward thinking still in play, both within and outside of the Church.
We CANNOT earn God’s approval by our own thoughts, words and deeds.
We CANNOT establish our own righteousness.
We CANNOT make up for our bad decisions by our good decisions.
The whole point of the Law and approaching God’s Holiness through the Tabernacle and the Temple(s) clarifies this.
Think the Prodigal son.
Think giving and receiving forgiveness.
Think giving and receiving mercy.
Think removing the log from our own eye before attempting to remove the twig from another.
The whole point for God our Father sending us His Son to die for our sins is that only He could do this for us. He is Holy and we are not. His thoughts and ways are not our thoughts and ways. Yet because He is a Holy and loving God, because He loves us that much, He sent us His Son, to be the way, the truth and the life, for us.
Jesus is our righteousness.
Jesus is our sanctification.
Jesus is our holiness.
Jesus is our redemption.
Jesus is our High Priest.
Jesus is our Saviour.
Jesus is our grace.
Grace is a gift from God.
Ephesians 2:8 NKJV “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,”
There is No condemnation for those who are in Christ.
Romans 8:1-2 NIV “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”
Sin in our lives cannot be ignored.
Romans 6:1-2 NIV “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”
Nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate us from the love of God that is in Jesus.
Romans 8:38-39 NIV “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
One of the most effective tricks Satan plays on Christians is to convince us that our sins aren’t really forgiven, despite the promise of God’s Word.
DO NOT accept Satan’s lie that you are not righteous, you are in Christ.
DO NOT accept Satan’s lie that you are not holy, you are in Christ.
DO NOT accept Satan’s lie that you are not sanctified, you are in Christ.
DO NOT accept Satan’s lie that you are not forgiven, if you confess your sins, your are.
DO NOT accept Satan’s lie that you are anything less than a child of God.
And what does God promise to do with the sins that we confess to Him?
Psalm 103:12 NIV “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
Rest in the promises of God and trust in His expressed love, Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!