My study is organized around a simple outline broken into four sections:
- Divine Forgiveness Promised
- Human Forgiveness Prescribed
- Examples of Human Forgiveness
- Example of Divine Forgiveness
I found Bible verses that show forgiveness as it flows from God and instances of transactions of forgiveness between men. It's no surprise that God's stack of Divine Forgiveness Bible verses is a mountain next to the molehill of human forgiveness.
After sorting the verses into different categories, I began to read them. For the past week I haven't been able to quit thinking about the first verse I read.
Exodus 34:7 says:
"I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren; the entire family is affected— even children in the third and fourth generations."God lavishes love on us. He forgives sin, but He doesn't typically deliver us out of it. The consequences of my sins today map out a course of consequences that my offspring will have to walk through. I have this information about the effects of my sin and God still chooses to forgive.
I've never really given thought to he part about God I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren. For some reason--I don't know what that reason is--I've always thought that doesn't apply to me. I live in the New Testament. But the bottom line is my sin affects people both nearby and far away. And I may not always know how or to what extent, but my sin is destructive and out of control the way a lit fuse on a stick of dynamite will unleash an explosion I can't stop once I complete the detonation sequence.
"But I do not excuse the guilty." God forgives, but excuses are unacceptable. The guilty are inexcusable. I need to get out of the habit of making excuses for my sin. I need to react to guilt the way I react to pain: loathe it. I shouldn't try to get used to it. That will destroy me. Guilt is the indicator my conscience needs to initiate repentance and cause me to run to God like a child runs to his daddy when he hurts himself. I need guilt much more than the short lived thrill of sin. Guilt can prevent the destructive consequence of sin if I act soon enough.
God is not mocked. When He sets something in motion, it's in motion. Cause and effect are not interrupted.