Misunderstanding God’s forgiveness

Published 2:00 pm Sunday, June 16, 2024

God is perfect in every sense of the word — He loves (agape) perfectly; God is just, He judges without partiality, God is merciful. In all of these, God is perfect. Because He is perfectly just, God can’t/doesn’t forgive sin!

Genesis 2:17 — “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Ezekiel 18:20 — “The soul who sins shall die”

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Hebrews 9:22 — “without the shedding of blood there is no remission (forgiveness) of sin.” 

For God to remain just, for sin to be forgiven, someone must die! So, we have a conundrum: if God is love, and mercy, how then can He punish sin by the shedding of blood? How then can His own law be administered to the sinner? For God to remain “just, loving, and merciful” He must satisfy His own law, while showing love and mercy to the sinner. There must be an appeasing, or propitiation, of God’s justified wrath against the sinner. Justice, love, and mercy must all be satisfied.

It is impossible for sinful man to reconcile himself to God! No amount of effort, no matter how sincere, can earn us forgiveness for the least of our sins. If we are powerless to save ourselves, what are we to do, how can we be delivered from God’s justified wrath on our sinful lives?

In Romans 7:24-25, Paul said: “O wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!” The good news is that there is a Way; it is offered to us through Jesus Christ, who declares in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (NKJV).

Jesus said from the cross that “it is finished.” I believe that He was speaking of the means of salvation: it is done; all of mankind was made able to receive the opportunity for forgiveness of their sins. In effect, we were all given a reserved seat, at no charge, obtained by simply trusting that Jesus paid our sin debt in His own blood.

God has done a marvelous thing for mankind — “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life,” John 3:16.

Bobby Thornhill is a retired pastor.