Written By: Matt Northway
Why would someone forgive you for doing the same thing over and over and over again? Whether you’ve fallen back into pride, bitterness, alcohol, foolishness, pornography, masturbation, greed, drugs, cowardness, or anything apart from God, there is still forgiveness and we are justified and made righteous through the workings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
If we read Romans 5:12-21, we see Paul making contrasts between Adam and Christ. This is a pretty heavy section and there is a lot of context and history to dig into with this passage and I encourage you to go dig into it yourself because it will give you a better understanding! In summary, this passage is about how death and sin came into this world through Adam, but that we can have hope and life in Jesus. Paul points out that the law came “to increase the trespass”. This means that the law was made so that sin could be identified, and people could know if they were swerving away from what God desired them to do. With the law in place, Christ’s grace abounded beyond what the law could identify and any sin we could commit. Paul goes into more detail about this in Romans 7 as well as the toil we face in wanting to do good, but not having the ability to carry it out. With this in mind, thanks be to God that through Christ, that His grace abounded more and more so that mankind now has grace and forgiveness despite our increasing sin. So, as man’s sin increases, the grace of God is increasing all the more.
We are forgiven out of a grace so unfathomable. Out of this unmerited favor, we find ourselves in this engulfing void of nothing but love and forgiveness. It’s one we can’t fully explain, but it is one where we can find contentment, restoration, fellowship, and peace. This is all from Christ’s doing, not our own (Galatians 2:15-16).
So, we have forgiveness from God that is ever increasing and covering our mistakes, but we shouldn’t stop there. As we go on to Romans 6:1-14, Paul goes on to state that given the abounding grace and forgiveness we have through Christ, that we shouldn’t take it for granted, meaning we should not willfully sin knowing that God’s grace covers our mistakes. He even states it so clearly by saying, “Shall we keep on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!” In this passage, Paul is talking about how with grace and forgiveness that is so loving, inclusive, and expansive, that we should honor and respect that gift that we did nothing to earn. That we should not continue to walk in sin.
Given this talk about forgiveness and grace, I want to address repentance. What is repentance? Many will say this is when you admit your wrongdoings to someone and ask for forgiveness. Yes, but not quite. That is included, but it also means that you change your actions. There must be an act of turning away and going down a different path leading towards sanctification. In 6:12-14, Paul very clearly states this. We are not to let sin rein in our mortal bodies and let it rule us. We should not be ruled by impulses to go drinking this weekend. We should not be ruled by impulses to look at pornography. We should not be ruled by impulses to lash out in anger when in a tough or stressful situation. Rather, we are to train ourselves and fight the good fight each and every day, becoming more like Christ, in order to ruled by impulses that lead us towards our bodies being instruments of righteousness. What do I mean by “ruled by impulses”? This does not mean it is a sin to be tempted. We know this because Jesus was tempted in every way just as we were but did not sin (Hebrews 4:15-16). What I mean by being ruled by the impulse is when we don’t have self-control and we give in to the temptation, leading us to sin.
I am addressing the grace and forgiveness of God first because without it, we will never understand the gospel or be able to apply it in our own lives.
Ok, so what now? What do we do with this forgiveness we have received? Simply put, as believers we are called to imitate Christ and extend to others what the Lord has bestowed upon us. When we receive love, we give love. When we receive forgiveness, we forgive. Why? Well, it wasn’t ours in the first place to give. We don’t own it, its all Christ’s. We should be acting towards others from a forgiveness and love that is so expansive and inclusive, in which we have received, that we now include others in as well (Ephesians 4:32).
When we don’t forgive, there is a deep assumption that our offense towards God was not as bad as one’s offense towards us. And I guarantee you that you have fallen farther away from God’s desire for you than someone else has from your desire for them. Our offense towards God is not comparable to someone’s offense towards you. We are so far deep in the wrong when we refuse to forgive others. How much has God forgiven you? How much are we called to forgive others? When we receive an endless resource of forgiveness, we should reach from that source to forgive others because in our own self, we have such limited forgiveness towards others; however, in Christ, we can have so much more forgiveness towards those around us because of God’s forgiveness within Christ.
Now, what do we do when others don’t forgive us or when we feel others have hurt us? Romans 12:17-18 says that we are not to repay evil with evil, but that a true mark of Christianity is to forgive and live at peace with all people by all that depends on you. Notice that Paul states, “so far as it depends on you,” not others. Let’s not focus on when we think others need to ask us for forgiveness, but let’s examine our own hearts and focus on our wrongdoings, not others. Run your race, not someone else’s. Let’s focus on Jesus and our own relationship with Him in order that we might grow in our knowledge and belief of His forgiveness while sharing it to others.