This past Sunday in our small group discussion, one of my elders brought up a point I made in my sermon and I want to elaborate on it a little.  I said forgiveness is where justice and grace meet. 

We have all probably heard it said, “Forgive and forget.”  Some of you may be surprised at this, but that is not in the Bible.  I believe linking forgiveness with forgetfulness can leave the door wide open to future harm.

Anyone who has struggled with addictions and has overcome them will tell you that if they forget what it cost them, they immediately become susceptible to falling into it again.

In 2 Corinthians 5:19 Paul writes, “In Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, . . .”

This particular sentence can raise some serious questions for people who believe that God is perfectly just – And He is!  How can a perfectly just God not hold someone accountable for that which they have done?  If an earthly judge chose not to hold a murderer accountable we would have that judge removed.  So how can a perfectly just God not hold people accountable?  How can God not count our sins against us, when he must punish sin?

(Exodus 34:7 specifically says that God will by no means clear the guilty.)

Paul anticipates and answers this question.  In verse 21 he writes, “For our sake, He [God] made Him [Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him [Christ] we might become the righteousness of God.” 

Here is the explanation of how a Holy and Just God punishes sin while at the same time He doesn’t hold our sins against us.  Paul is here arguing for what theologians refer to as ‘Double Imputation.’  Christ’s account of righteousness is charged with our sin.  This is why Christ died.  He was paying the penalty for sin (Romans 6:23 “The wages of sin is death.”)

Just as Christ received to his account something that wasn’t His, Christians receive to their account something that isn’t theirs and that is Christ’s righteousness.  It is on account of Christ’s righteousness that God declares us to be justified before the law.

Now back to the issue of forgiveness.  Forgiveness is not simply God forgetting about our sin.  He can NOT forget about it.  He is holy and just.  Miriam-Webster defines forgive as, “to give up resentment of or claim to requital for [something].”

God doesn’t simply “give up a claim to requital,” He pays it Himself.  God pays the penalty for sin by the Second person of the Trinity (Jesus) dying on the cross as a substitute.  So,  forgiveness happens because God’s justice has been satisfied by the debt of sin being paid in full.  And it is by God’s grace alone that this double imputation takes place.

Therefore, forgiveness is where justice and grace meet.

Next time, I am going to revisit the whole idea of forgiving and forgetting in light of the definition of forgiveness.

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