Wednesday, July 04, 2007

First Forgiveness Post

As I said a few posts back, I was going do a personal Bible study on forgiveness. I dug right into mining verses out of the Bible that discuss forgiveness. What I've discovered is that God forgives so naturally. I really don't get why because He knows everything. He knows our thoughts and motivations in every situation and He still aggressively pursues a relationship with us unhindered by the heavy baggage of our sins. He can only do that by forgiving us. But He doesn't forgive us because He gets something out of it; He forgives because we benefit. Forgiveness is like Teflon. It keeps bitterness and hatred and cynicism and vengeance and murder from sticking to us. Forgiveness frees me to live the abundant life Jesus promises.

My study is organized around a simple outline broken into four sections:
  1. Divine Forgiveness Promised
  2. Human Forgiveness Prescribed
  3. Examples of Human Forgiveness
  4. 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.


Anonymous said...

Very thought provoking. I'm going to chew on it for a while.

Anonymous said...

Good work, you're doing, and I look forward to learning as you post about this study.

I'm reminded of part of a sermon I heard, a number of years ago. During that time, I did not have a church home, and I was not attending anywhere. One Sunday morning, I turned on the TV as I ate breakfast. Robert Schuller was just getting into a sermon on forgiveness and told what his long-held position had been. What he said described my own position perfectly.

He had long held that he needed to be ready to forgive at any time, but that his actual forgiveness was not due until whoever had offended him came to him, apologized and asked for forgiveness. Then he had to be ready to grant it. My own reasoning had been that God deals with me that way: He stands ready to forgive, but until I repent and ask Him, I do not benefit from His forgiveness, at all, and our relationship is not intact. I had been wedded to this position with regard to forgiving my dad, whose own experience as an abused child had contributed to his mental illness and abusive behavior as a father.

Then, said Schuller, he read the passage in Matthew in which Jesus prayed on the cross, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Bam! Oh. That. Hurt! My dad really did not know how hurtful he was, and I had to forgive him. I still have to do it all over again, when memory reminds me of our past.

As for excuse-making for my own sin, no, I'd better not try that. It seems to me all we can do is repent and throw ourselves on our Father's mercy. Thankfully, He gives in abundance.

Mike West said...

THAT wil preach. It all takes time and even then we don't get to understand it all. I think He loves it when we try by digging in to His Word. You're looking for answers in the right place, that's for sure.
Happy 4th of July! Do they celebrate it out there on the left coast? :)
Mike & Mary

Bryonm said...


They-I mean WE- do, in fact, celebrate the fourth of July. Have a happy one...

Anonymous said...

Bryon--I know that verse well. But, hadn't heard it in a while. I began to type one comment, but The Spirit has led me to type another:

That verse was perfect for me today. Thank you!!

Anonymous said...

when I finally understood this "I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren" having 2 kids it was shocking to me and I realized how many changes I wanted to make in my life in order to leave them with less consequences of my sins, even when we repent and God has forgiven us the consequences are still there isn't that so P.Bryon?

I have felt the consequences of sin in my family from generation to generation with God's help we will leave a better path for our descendents since this is what God has made very clear in our lives that does not mean in anyway that we will fall short but at least now we are aware of our sins can harm the one's we love.

Marny Sartor

Anonymous said...

correction: that we will not fall short