January 6, 2023, 4:36 PM


Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

Christians and non-Christians alike speak about forgiveness. What is forgiveness? American Heritage Dictionary defines forgiveness as the act of forgiving and giving pardon. To forgive is to excuse a fault or an offence which leads to a release from payment. When people speak of forgiveness, there is an underlying assumption. The obvious assumption regarding forgiveness is that an evil act, more precisely, a sin has been committed. There is another essential truth concerning forgiveness. The revealed truth of God is that He alone can forgive sins! There is also a blessing connected with forgiveness. Psalm 32 describes the emotional and spiritual condition that resulted from unconfessed sin. David wrote of his deep despair because of the guilt of his sin. He was under the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

David said, “when I kept silent, my bones wasted away“ (Psalm 32:3a). He was in turmoil because he tried to hide his sin. We’ve all experienced the burden of sin resulting from its denial. The first step towards receiving the blessing of forgiveness is to experience the weight of sin. But simply feeling the weight of sin is not sufficient for receiving the blessing of forgiveness.

In verse 5, David wrote, “I acknowledged my sin to you… and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.” David acknowledged his sin and wrongdoing to God, and he experienced God’s forgiveness. God took away the iniquity, the punishment and guilt that results from sin. God’s forgiveness brings with it a peace and sense of release, true joy.

Concerning relationships with others, the one who has an unforgiving heart will be in bondage to the one who committed evil against him. Also, for the one who has sinned, confession brings with it the blessing of peace. We know that God has promised to forgive our sins, if we confess them (1 John 1:9).

Underlying everything concerning the blessing of forgiveness is that there is no such thing as a victimless sin. Even with so-called victimless crimes there is an offended party. God is offended by every evil action. We often determine evil by the degree of harm done to others. We read every day the increasing evil in our society. Everyone agrees that the recent murders committed in Idaho were heinous evil. But we don’t see evil behavior in all our “private” sins. The truth is no matter if other people are involved or not, God is offended! Psalm 51:4 says, “Against you [God], you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.”

David was convicted of his sins of murder and adultery (2 Samuel 12:7-13; Psalm 51). Others were impacted by David’s sins. Uriah the Hittite was murdered. Bathsheba was led to sin by David’s lust. But David knew that God was the primary offended party.

David’s conviction led to his acknowledgement of sin, his sorrow for sin and finally his turning from sin. David fully expected to bear the punishment for his sin. He expected death. Yet, Nathan spoke for God and told David that “the LORD has put away your sin; you shall not die” (2 Samuel 12:13). David’s overwhelming sorrow for his sins came because of his acknowledgement of God’s holiness. He knew that he had offended the holy God and as a result deserved death.

All Christians affirm that God is holy (Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4; 5). We know that He hates sin. All sin is evil behavior and offends the holiness of God. Therefore, like David, we must appeal to God’s mercy. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions” (Psalm 51:1). All of us deserve God’s wrath; we are by nature children of wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3).

Finally, a question, “Are Christians commanded to forgive everyone?” As His beloved children, Christians are commanded to imitate God (Ephesians 5:1). The brief journey through the Scriptures above describes God’s action to forgive. Note that God’s forgiveness follows repentance. E.G. David acknowledged his sin; he was sorry for it; and he turned from it. David repented and was forgiven. We are to forgive those who repent; we must always to be ready and willing to forgive. Yet, without repentance there is only justice remaining for the perpetrator of evil. May you know the blessing of God’s forgiveness only in Christ as sins are confessed.