June 18, 2012

Repentance, Forgiveness and Issues of Accountability

Unless those in society are of a Christian inclination already, trying to have them understand the concept of God’s forgiveness is pretty much pointless like wings on a penguin. The importance of other people forgiving and God forgiving someone serve different functions. God’s forgiveness is base in repentance and acceptance of what Christ has done on our behalf on the cross. We empty ourselves in humbleness to approach the cross in a contrite spirit. In the face of an awesome God there is no other manner proper. When we forgive wrongs others have done to us we need to not necessarily forget the wrong but not be willing to act on it. In this we emulate God in his forgiveness. God is omniscient, he forgets nothing. When the Bible says the God no longer “remembers” or sin what it is really saying is that He is no longer holding it against us a debt against our account. We have been purchased with the blood of Christ. God’s forgiveness if we’ve met the criteria cleans the slate for us to start from “0” and work back towards holiness with the help of the Holy Spirit. In my experience, most if not all non-Christians view this as a totally alien or unacceptable concept. The world may view moral crimes just immoral but for the secular world that does not even believe in God I find it hard to stomach that they still hold to a “moral high ground” when they do not even believe in an ultimate moral law giver. They don’t believe in any more absolute. Most view man as the highest moral good. That’s like considering a computer made by a man as the highest form of intelligence.

Although men can forgive other men this should never ever be confused with the forgiveness of God who actually has the ability to forgive the sin or wrong in a way that releases the offender from punishment due him on the eternal scale. It is Salvation that is being dealt with here. Sadly, even when religious people speak of God forgiving nowadays, even in religious articles, the idea of the forgiveness is not matched up with Salvation often (such is the case here). It is important to realize that when we sin against others in a situation that requires them to forgive us it is not just them we are wronging. When we are wronging someone whether by omission or commission, we are sinning. By sinning we are first and foremost committing an offense against God. One because we have disobeyed but also because we have committed the infraction against another that is made in the image of the Creator. This is especially true in the case of murder. If we do not reconcile ourselves through repentance and forgiveness to God we alienate ourselves from him. If we stay in this state until death we are condemned.

Conversely, if another person does not forgive us for our trespass it is more an issue of the other person’s heart than ours. We realized we were wrong and sought the forgiveness. If the one wronged knows this and remains unmoved by the plea for forgiveness it presents the issue of a hardened heart. How is this different from God? God would’ve forgiven a truly repentant person in this situation because this is His nature. A perfectly just God would forgive a truly repentant person that has accepted His Son. Whereas a person that not forgiven a truly repentant person is not perfectly just.

When we enter the realm of seeing sin at the holistic level we begin to see a synergism of powers bigger than individuals that rise to the level of nations, nation states and leaders. Instead of cells we see what amounts to multi-cellular organisms that are an amalgamation of the smaller constituent components. We begin to see that the sins of the individual begin to multiply as the consensus of a majority of these types of sinful people pick “like” minded people at an ideological level. It’s like cancer that spreads on cell at a time.  When there is enough of the disease the system eventually fails but the failure is the cause of a million little accumulations of failure (sin). Therefore based on the aforementioned states, I do not believe the Social Gospel that says social sins are a collective whole or collective nature, an aspect of our society as a whole itself which doesn't resemble the Kingdom of God.  I believe that it is just the opposite. It is the individuals that are all individually responsible to God for their own sin.  Jesus didn’t change entire towns or convert entire towns. He converted individuals. Salvation is not a group thing, sanctification can be communal and eventually glorification will be. Salvation? No! When we die, we all pass through that turnstile of judgment one at a time. Entire communities do not pass through as a herd, based on the merit of the collective whole. This is where the Social Gospel gets it totally wrong (that along with the fact that it advocates salvation by works). The sin of society is a million little accumulations of cancer cells acting as a parasite on the entire system that eventually kills the host. Change starts one person at a time. It’s called discipleship. We are not going to save society as a whole if we do not act individually to turn towards God first. It doesn’t say to love you neighbor with all your heart, soul and mind and love the Lord God as yourself, it says to love God first. If our hearts are not in the right place first, our actions are nothing but works that do not gain us favor in God’s eyes.

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