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Friday, February 14, 2014

Forgiveness and Restoration

Edward F. Lundwall Jr.

Forgiveness, Not Enough! 

(Part I of a new series)

The necessity of forgiveness has a greater or lesser compulsion according to importance of who one has wronged. As important as forgiveness is in human relationships, one’s relationship with God far exceeds every other relationship. Since God is the Almighty Creator and Just Judge of everyone, a reconciled relationship with Him through forgiveness affects every other relationship. By finding forgiveness, a new start in life can be experienced with an opportunity to build a future without guilt, shame, or haunting memories.

Few recognize that the source of all sin is not honoring God as God. “…The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment “(Mark 12:29‑30). Romans 1:28 indicates that to ignore a person who is worthy of honor is the root of insult, when it says, “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.”

When persons choose to ignore God, their minds become darkened, and unable to discern truth, they act without acknowledging the consequences that inevitably follows their actions. To seek forgiveness, one must acknowledge that they have wronged, not only others and themselves, but the God who created them and whose holiness and power they have denied or ignored. By “turning ones back on” or “reversing one’s direction,” which is the meaning of repentance, and asking God to grant forgiveness for their wrong acts and the attitude along with their lack of faith and honor of God in the first place, the person must commit themselves “to bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8 NASU). To simply seek forgiveness with no commitment to change is not true repentance.

Jesus directs new believers to stay (abide) under the influence of His Word so that they will comprehend the breadth and depth of his love and mercy and be persuaded to more deeply respond to God, and to obey Him on the basis knowledgeable faith. Asking forgiveness of God is not a temporary experience like taking aspirin for symptoms or fever or pain without understanding the problem. Too many times, the newspaper headlines or “Dear Abby” columns record testimonies of people who ask for forgiveness, and simply continue doing or falling back into the same wrongs. The forgiveness was temporary and smacks of being sorry for a single event, or just regretting being caught.

Without reconciling adjustment, forgiveness can be like drunkenness, an experience of mixed pleasure and/or conflict with uncertain anxiety. Marriages between two strong carnal personalities serve to illustrate this also with constant disagreements and even fights. While they may for a time they will forgive each other, kiss and make up, the cycle continues until forgiveness is not enough. They can obtain help and adjust, or they often separate and divorce. Indeed, forgiveness is not enough. There must be a change, a reconciling of their differences that leads to a restoration of their relationship. So it is with our relationship with the Lord. Asking forgiveness must be accompanied with a willful commitment to allow God to set you on a different life journey…one for which He has designed you to travel in relationship with Him and according to his Word. 

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