Forgiveness not an easy topic


June 3, 2020

If God is so kind and patient, why does he need to have some innocent man die naked on a cross to forgive our sins?

If God is really as loving as you say, why not just forgive sin and be done with it?

He wants us to forgive each other freely, right? We don’t get to demand the shedding of blood in exchange for forgiving offenses against us, so how’s God get away with that?

A really merciful God would just let these things go, without making anyone die.

Maybe you’ve heard such objections, or wondered similar things yourself.

Part of the answer is that someone who can just wave his hand and act like nothing ever happened is not really forgiving sin: he’s proving that it doesn’t matter to him.

You’ve probably had people apologize to you for things you didn’t even notice at the time, and didn’t care about. You could smile and say, “Forget about it. It’s no big deal, really.”

This is not biblical forgiveness. This is your admission that the perceived offense was too trivial to concern you.

But, as the offense against you becomes larger, and starts touching things in your life that you actually care about, suddenly you find it much harder to put those actions in the past and leave them there. Some of you were hurt and damaged in grievous ways many years ago, and the wound still feels fresh. You struggle to forgive, to put it mildly.

Now, when we consider the forgiveness of God, I’m convinced we take it lightly precisely because we take God’s commandments lightly. We don’t think they’re a big deal, so we assume God must not either. (Or, he shouldn’t.)

There is a notion that floats around that God’s laws are fairly arbitrary, not based on anything real. He had to put the boundaries somewhere, after all, and so he kind of randomly came up with some rules.

What if the laws of God are important to him, though? What if, instead of being arbitrary, they are actually outgrowths of God’s own character? In that case (which the Bible teaches is the real state of things) then every sin would be something equivalent to climbing up on God’s throne and slapping him in his face.

You couldn’t get away with doing that to the president of the United States, not without some extra, leaky holes in your body. You’re going to do that to the King of Kings, though, and then gripe about him being somehow stingy with forgiveness.

The naked man on the cross didn’t have to die. He chose to. He took it upon himself to pay the price for all those slaps in God’s face. The only other option is you paying for them all by yourself.

Make no mistake, though: it’s all going to be paid. Nobody’s getting away with anything, but in God’s rich mercy, you might just get out of here forgiven.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23

Gordan Runyan is the pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Tucumcari. Contact him at:

[email protected]


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