Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs

God does not count our sins against us. That isn’t logical to us. It is the the very opposite of the way our natural minds work. We want to keep a record of wrongs and count sins against others. It’s just the way the flesh operates.

With every wrong suffered, the flesh records that wrong in a mental spreadsheet. When appropriate, the flesh accesses that record to use against others to somehow even the score. Here’s how it works.

When we get hurt by the actions of others, we take note. It’s like a video record we store in our minds, a high definition, 3-D video, mind you. Every aspect of the event is stored in vivid detail. We know the who, what, when and how, and we give a lot of thought to the why. All this effort to keep a tally opens the door for resentment to creep in and set up shop in our minds.

The writer of Hebrews issued a strong warning about resentment and bitterness: “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:15). Resentment is not content to merely stew. It wants to cause trouble. All kinds of evil thoughts begin racing through the mind, hatching a plan for revenge.

Does this sound familiar?

Once a plan for revenge is hatched, we wait for the perfect time and place for the payback. Then we tally the score. The record says that we are ahead, and the flesh is satisfied.

But love doesn’t do this. God does not do this. He reconciled you to himself in Christ, and he does not count your sins against you. God is not resentful when you sin, nor does he think evil. And that sin is not recorded in God’s books. His spreadsheet is empty.

As this truth sinks deep within our hearts and minds, it starts to shape how we treat one another.

Do you want to see the love of God in action in your marriage, your family, your relationship with your children, your friends, your fellow-workers and your brothers and sisters in Christ?

Throw the record of wrongs away. Rest in the truth that you have been reconciled to God in Christ, and that he is not counting your sins against you. And then rejoice in the truth that God is not counting the sins of others against them.

The heart of reconciliation and the foundation for strong, healthy relationships is this: Love keeps no record of wrongs.

The Origin of Forgiveness

An observation — people in general seem to be unsure as to what forgiveness really means, and even more, how to carry it out in life. To find out what forgiveness really means, we need to go to the source, to the place where forgiveness began.

Mark records a fascinating story in the early chapters of his Gospel account. A group of people were gathered at a house in Capernaum to hear Jesus preach the Word of God. The house was packed wall to wall with no room for another person.

After Jesus started preaching, four men arrived carrying their paralytic friend on a stretcher. They had heard about Jesus and his healing touch. This was their opportunity to help their friend. They were determined to find a way to get their friend in to that house. The only option they saw was through the roof. They climbed atop the roof, cut an opening and then lowered their friend on his stretcher.

This was faith in action. When Jesus saw it, he looked at the paralytic and said, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Does Jesus’ response seem strange to you? Why did he say such a thing? Jesus’ statement confused the crowd as well and raised an eyebrow or two, particularly those of the teachers of the law.

They were thinking, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7). Let’s stop right there. These teachers of the law packed deep theological truth in that seven word question. They clearly understood that forgiveness originates with God. On this point, their theology was correct. God, and no one else, has the power and authority to forgive sins. This is why Jesus’ statement to the paralytic was so offensive to them. In their minds, a mere man was staking claim to God’s authority and power and was stepping in to do what only God can do.

Only God can forgive because he is the offended party, the person we ultimately wrong. Our sins are against him. We are in his debt.

They also knew that God was, and is, willing to forgive. The law, and specifically the sacrificial system, revealed this aspect of God’s character to them. “But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love” (Nehemiah 9:17). This is what they knew about their God. He has made this even more apparent to us through Jesus. God’s forgiving character took action. Through Jesus’ shed blood, he freely forgave all of our sins. And he did so at his initiative, not ours.

Now back to the story. Jesus was not about to let their thoughts go unchallenged. Before these teachers could say a word, Jesus asked them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts?” (Mark 2:8). I wonder if their palms started to sweat, or their stomachs started to knot. I think I would have looked like a deer caught in the headlights. Then Jesus pressed his point. “…the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” Jesus, God in human flesh, with authority and power, forgave the paralytic.

What fascinates me about this story is the paralytic’s silence. He didn’t say a word. He didn’t ask Jesus to heal him. And he certainly didn’t ask Jesus for forgiveness. He wouldn’t have been there if not for the heroic efforts of his four friends. He was at their mercy and Jesus’. Jesus delivered his mercy with four simple words, “Your sins are forgiven.” This is grace.

Here is good news. Jesus says the same four words to you. These aren’t just nice words to make you feel better about yourself. Jesus is God. When he says your sins are forgiven, they are forgiven.

Excerpted from Simple Gospel, Simply Grace

simplegospelsimplygrace.com

Draw Near — You Can You Know!

The 28 Day Forgiveness Challenge — Day 28

Do you know the question kids ask the most?

If you are a parent, you know the answer. It’s “Why?”

It’s a great question to ask. You can learn much about life when you are curious about the “why.” I’m not sure we ask it enough when it comes to the Gospel.

For example, why did Christ die? We know that He did, but why? What did he have in his mind as the end result?

I like what Peter wrote in his first letter: “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Why did Christ die? He died to bring you to God.

God created man for relationship. When sin entered in, that relationship was broken. Our fear of God’s punishment kept us at a distance from Him. We were too afraid to get close. Jesus changed all that through His shed blood. It beckons us to draw near to God.

The writer of Hebrews put it this way: “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus…let us draw near to God…” (Hebrews 10:19-22).

There is nothing to fear or worry about. Your sins are gone. Your punishment has been taken away. There is nothing standing in the way.

Because your sins have been forgiven, you can “approach God with confidence and freedom” (Ephesians 3:12).

This is good news. Draw near and enjoy your relationship with Jesus Christ.

Forgiveness Challenge #28 – What does it mean to you to be reconciled to God? Is there anything holding you back from drawing near to God in full assurance of faith?

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

It's Time to Rest!

The 28 Day Forgiveness Challenge — Day 27

Jesus Christ finished His work.

He did everything necessary to take away your sins once and for all. Jesus put it this way in His high priestly prayer: “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began” (John 17:4, 5).

God the Father answered Jesus’ prayer. He exalted Him to highest place – the right hand of the Father.

He is seated there now.

What does this mean for you?

First, there is nothing more to do concerning your sins. Jesus has done it all. The fact that Jesus is seated at the right hand of His Father is proof.

The writer of Hebrews didn’t want his readers to miss this point. For example, when comparing Jesus to the Levites, he explained that Jesus “has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself” (Hebrews 7:27 ). There is no need for Jesus to get up from his seated position.

This means you can rest. Here is Jesus’ promise to all who come to Him: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28, 29.)

All the work we do to earn God’s forgiveness and love wears us out. It leaves us weary and burdened. That’s not God’s desire for you. He wants you to rest. You can because Jesus has already done the work.

Your sins are forgiven. You are righteous in God’s sight. He loves you and accepts you. Believe it and take a rest in Him. It’s time.

Forgiveness Challenge #27 – Are you willing to enter God’s rest?

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Hebrews 4:9-10 (NIV)

What Happens When You Take A Wrong Turn?

The 28 Day Forgiveness Challenge — Day 25

I love the GPS system in my car. It’s an amazing piece of technology. I have even named that friendly voice “Ethel”. Ethel calmly directs my path and gets me to my final destination time and time again.

Yet, sometimes I choose not to follow Ethel’s directions thinking I know the best way to get me where I’m going.

When I do choose to go my own way, I hear Ethel calmly saying: “Recalculating.” She knows the end destination, and knows how to get me there. Even when I take a wrong turn.

In just a few seconds, she sets me on the right path once again. The thing about Ethel is that she doesn’t condemn me or berate me for choosing to go my own way. I’ve never heard her say things like: “How could you not follow my directions? What were you thinking? I refuse to give you any more help.” No, she quickly and calmly comes to my aid, and brings me safely to my final destination.

Believe it or not, this story is a great illustration of the Christian life. All of us from time to time choose to go our own way in life. We think we know what’s best for us and what will ultimately make us happy. So off we go down the wrong path. And Jesus goes right with us.

He doesn’t condemn us, or turn away from us. By grace, he moves us in the right direction. Even my wrong turns along the way do not keep Him from getting me to my final destination.

Because of the finished work of the cross, there is no condemnation for you under the New Covenant. Sometimes you will fail to heed the leading of the Holy Spirit and give in to the desires of the flesh. When you do, the Holy Spirit will renew your mind. He will remind you of His love and grace, and set you once again on the right path.

Forgiveness Challenge #25– When you fail, as we all do, ask the Holy Spirit to renew your mind and remind you of the gift of forgiveness. Remember this great truth – Your sins will not keep God from completing the work He began in you!

“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

Repentance or Forgiveness – Which Comes First?

The 28 Day Forgiveness Challenge — Day 24

There is always this question of what to do when we sin. Repentance normally tops the list of actions we need to take. This act, in our minds, has a number of possible outcomes. The first is forgiveness for the sin that was committed. In this scenario, repentance is first, then forgiveness. We repent, then God forgives.

The second outcome is the restoration of fellowship that was broken because of sin. Again, repentance is the catalyst, the lead act that restores the fellowship.

This is not biblical thinking. God’s plan is “by grace through faith.” Grace initiates, faith follows. An aspect of this faith is repentance. It is the changing of the mind in response to the truth of God’s grace and the forgiveness in Jesus Christ. It is the stepping right into the middle of God’s plan.

When Peter stood before the people at Pentecost, he told them about Jesus – his death, burial and resurrection. This is the story of God’s grace in action. Then he summoned the people to repentance. Three thousand were added to the church that day. The reason is that God’s grace led to repentance in the heart toward Jesus.

Here is the point. When you sin, let God’s grace take the lead. The shed blood of Christ will change your heart and mind and will deepen your spiritual instinct to trust, rely and abide in the indwelling and resurrected Christ.

Which comes first? If you are in Christ, you already have forgiveness of sins. Let this truth rest your mind solidly in His love and grace.

Forgiveness Challenge #24 – Think back to the day your mind changed concerning Jesus. What was the catalyst for your repentance toward Christ?

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)

There Is No Record of Your Wrongs!

The 28 Day Forgiveness Challenge — Day 23

“Remember 5 years ago when you did…”

“And, then 3 years ago, you hurt my feelings when you said…”

“Even last Tuesday at 10:00 a.m., you …..”

When it comes to our relationships with others, we love to keep a tally of the all the wrongs we have suffered. We have a list of all the wrongs our mates have done, one for our children, our employer, and our friends.

All it takes is one wrong word, and out comes “the list.” We remind the person of all the wrongs they have done in the past and we hold these wrongs against them.

Many times, we feel that’s how God interacts with us. As long as we’re behaving properly, He loves us. But if we mess up, out comes the list of all our past sins and we have to beg Him to stay in relationship with us.

But God isn’t like that at all. Paul made this clear in his definition of love. He wrote that God keeps no records of our wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5).

As we have learned in previous posts, God does not remember your sins. He nailed them all to the cross, Jesus blood washed them away. Because of Christ’s sacrifice, God welcomes you into relationship with Him with open arms.

Paul put it this way: “All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and He gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18, 19).

Step fully into the forgiveness of God and rest in Christ’s finished work. The ‘list’ has been destroyed and you are free to enjoy His love!

Forgiveness Challenge #23– Let the forgiveness you have received spill out to those on your list. Ask the Lord to teach you how to burn the lists of resentment and wrongs and to remember the forgiveness you have received in Christ.

I am writing to you who are God’s children because your sins have been forgiven through Jesus (1 John 2:12 NLT).

Since I Am Forgiven, How Should I Live?

The 28 Day Forgiveness Challenge — Day 22

“Are you saying that since I am totally forgiven, I can just go out and do whatever I want to do?”

I have heard that question more times than I can count from listeners of our daily radio broadcast, Basic Gospel.

This question isn’t new. The Apostle Paul was hit with it almost everywhere he traveled. Many today are asking the same questions. Some of the questions stem from Paul’s bold claim in 1 Corinthians 6:12: “Everything is permissible to me.”

As believers in Christ, we are free. We are free to submit to the desires of the flesh. But, just like Paul, we are also free to submit to the desires of the Spirit. Both are permissible. Only one is profitable.

Knowing that we are forgiven helps us choose the profitable path.

When we give in to the desires of the flesh, we put ourselves under the control of sin. For the child of God, this doesn’t make sense. Paul understood that. He had had enough of being mastered by sin. He willingly submitted to the control of the Holy Spirit in order to experience love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control.

No, the truth of total forgiveness of sins does not lead to reckless living. God’s love as expressed in forgiveness always leads to a life of trust and dependence upon Him.

There is nothing more profitable in life than knowing and experiencing the love of Jesus Christ. That’s how you live in grace.

Forgiveness Challenge #22 – Understand that we have the freedom to choose what we will depend on at any given moment. Remind yourself that the right choice is to plant yourself firmly in the middle of the forgiveness you’ve been given.

Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? (Romans 6:1-2 NLT)

The Proof That You Are Forgiven!

The 28 Day Forgiveness Challenge — Day 21

Through Christ’s act of propitiation, God showed us that he is just. He dealt with our sin. He didn’t ignore it or sweep it under some heavenly carpet. He judged it, he condemned it, and he punished it. All obligations were fully satisfied. But that was not the end goal.

God is both just and the justifier. He freely justifies “the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26). That’s you.

Not only did God take away your sins, he declared you to be righteous. This is the proof that your sins have been forgiven and that God is fully satisfied with you. This means you are in right standing with God. You didn’t work your way to that status. God justified you freely by his grace.

How does this play out in daily living? We still sin, don’t we? And each sin we commit still deserves punishment. The punishment we deserve is death.

Yet, God says to those who are in Christ, “Your sins have been forgiven.” How do we know that punishment is not waiting for us sometime in the future? What is the proof?

Justification!

God justifies sinners and declares them right in his sight on the basis of Christ’s finished work on the cross.

The work is done. Jesus wants us to trust and depend on Him. It’s in that trust that we can watch him work all things together for our good. We can trust him because he satisfied the law on our behalf. His punishment was our punishment. In exchange, His righteousness became our righteousness.

The fact that God has declared us righteous in His sight is proof that all of our sins have been forgiven – past, present and future. They have been sent away from us as far as the east is from the west and righteousness has been credited to our account. On the basis of Jesus’ shed blood, God treats us as if we had never sinned.

Forgiveness Challenge #21 – Do you believe that Jesus died for all of your sins? Do you believe that his blood satisfied the law for every sin you have committed or will commit in the future? Here is the proof:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1 (ESV)

Are You Satisfied?

The 28 Day Forgiveness Challenge — Day 20

Have you ever thought this about God: “No matter what I do, God is never satisfied with me.”

The Bible tells a different story. God is satisfied. The biblical word is propitiation. It’s not a word we hear very often, but it packs a powerful punch when it comes to our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Here is what we need to know. Propitiation is a God thing. It took place between God the Father and Jesus the Son. The writer of Hebrews marks it as a heavenly transaction: “For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence” (Hebrews 9:24).

The end result is this: Jesus’ shed blood satisfied the demands of God’s justice and holiness. Think about that. The wrath of God directed toward you was fully satisfied by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. God accepted the blood of Jesus as complete and final payment for your sins.

This is grace. Jesus accomplished for you what you could not accomplish yourself. This means there is nothing for you to do except believe. You will know you have truly believed when you are satisfied in your heart with Christ’s death as total and complete payment for your sins.

This is “by grace through faith.”

Forgiveness Challenge #20 -God is satisfied with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on your behalf. If God is satisfied with the payment for your sins, why shouldn’t you be satisfied? Ask God to make this truth real in your heart and mind. God is satisfied. You can rest.

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:10 (ESV)