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Friday, February 19, 2016

Foundations of Forgiveness (Part 1)

The Motivation of the Fear of Loss

By Edward F. Lundwall

No human being is entirely self-sufficient. We are created to be social beings. Before Adam fell, he had been endowed with great abilities as seen in the fact that God gave him the task of examining all the animals and giving them names. In fact, God had given him authority over all that was in the earth. Also, God had created Eve, a woman out Adam’s rib so that together they could be a unity of life.
However, there was something about Adam that was not complete. He was created in the image of God and God is a trinity of being. This is seen in the use of the pronoun “we,” and “us,” in the creation account, but even more clearly in the description of man being made in the image of God in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, “…your spirit and soul and body…” Three different functioning parts in one individual---a trinity.

This “three-in-one of being” as an attribute of both God and man is seen in many places throughout the Bible. One of the clearest is in the Great Commission’s baptismal name of God that identify Christians, “… baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit…” (Matthew 28:19). The Scriptures make it clear that each part of God has its own function, but have a harmonious relationship with each other. Love and dependence upon each other made all three parts a functional unity.

Perhaps this is the reason that Adam, not being deceived, chose to sin in eating the forbidden fruit. He could not feel being without Eve, who by then had death at work within her. After he succumbed to her invitation, both experienced fear for the first time. They had begun to lose life feeling both separation, fear, and guilt; they needed forgiveness. However, they did not even know if it existed.

As with all sin, there can be forgiveness, but consequences remain. God’s Word had to be fulfilled or else Satan’s lie to Eve would be proved true. He had deceived her by telling that she would not really die or lose anything, contradicting God’s clear words of warning. The consequences were that both she and Adam were banished from the Garden of Eden into a harsh world in which they and their children would experience death. However, God had a spiritual solution.

For them to feel comfortable in God’s presence, God gave them coats of animal skins. This meant that the animal had to die for them to have a measure of forgiveness. Death for sin was carried out, but by a substitute, looking forward to God’s infinite Lamb, the Lord Jesus, whose death was of infinite worth and His righteousness becomes our covering and new life.

When sin, in some form of wrong doing, occurs fear of some form of loss will occur, if forgiveness is not given. However, a wrong must be considered a wrong with consequences for the fear of loss to promote a desire for forgiveness. However, some people have such an inflated concept of their self-worth and their personal rights, very few things that they do to harm or demean others do they consider as wrong, and they would never want to call them “sins.”

They must experience some kind of loss to fear a greater loss. Until the realization what they have done is a wrong, they will not fear further loss. Until this occurs, they will not fear enough to seek forgiveness. Adam and Eve first became aware of their sin was because they felt self-conscious and shame in their nakedness. This made them fear to face God and they tried to hide and make fig leaves coverings to cover themselves. To relieve them of their fear, God gave them skins to wear. Their understanding that a sacrifice of life (in this case an animal as a substitute for themselves) is substantiated in that Abel, their son, received favor and approval from God for his sacrifice of a sheep, while Cain did not. Sadly, people must experience hard things allowed by God to realize their need for forgiveness and a restored relationship with their Creator. Adam and Eve became aware of this need on a continuing basis by the difficult relationships outside the Garden of Eden, and the pain of child birth. 
Man’s spirit was constructed to give humans an awareness of God’s presence and a conscience into which God makes known His existence and overarching moral character. After the Fall of Man, the need for some kind of approval and acceptance made Abel and Cain strongly desire some kind of approval from God as seen in their burnt offerings. This is especially seen through Cain’s lament and jealousy over Abel’s’ acceptance with God. In Cain self-worship produced a further rebellious attitude. This spread within the community of men so that the time came where human society became so evil that God sent the Flood to destroy all humans except for Noah’s family. Not to seek forgiveness from God will produce stubbornness leading to such sin that absolute judgement will occur from God. Humanity must come to fear enough to seek a full restitution without which they will not find forgiveness with God.

On the human level, fearing the loss of a ruptured relationship is the key to finding forgiveness between people. Without which the consequences of the lack of seeking forgiveness is seen in the chaos in family relationships, crime, drug induced destruction of life, and despair. In both this life, and the one to follow, the fear of dying, losing out, guilt, and shame demands a sacrifice of blood. The most important reason to consider the message of John 3:1 6, “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever should believe in Him, shall not die, but have eternal life.” The fear of being continually separated from God and losing out on the opportunity of a balance life in our earthly sojourn and spending eternity under the condemnation of sin’s wages with its loss of going to Heaven, should be motive enough to make each thinking individual invest greater effort in seeking a full spiritual life with Jesus as their Savior. 

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