For the Forgiveness of our Sins
AS WE APPROACH EASTER, over the next two weeks, I would like to share with you two meditations of the cross from John Piper’s book Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die. Use these reflections to meditate on the cross.
When we forgive a debt or an offense or an injury, we don’t require a payment for settlement.
Forgiveness assumes grace. If I am injured by you, grace lets it go. I don’t sue you. I forgive you. Grace gives what someone doesn’t deserve. That is why the word forgiveness has the word give in it. Forgiveness is not “getting” even. It is giving away the right to get even.
That is what God does to us when we trust Christ. “Everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:43). If we believe in Christ, God no longer holds our sins against us. This is God’s own testimony in the Bible: “I, I am he who wipes out your transgressions for my own sake” (Isaiah 43:25).
But this raises a problem. We all know that forgiveness is not enough... Neither society nor the universe can hold together if judges (or God) simply say to every murderer or rapist, “Are you sorry? Okay. The state forgives you. You may go.” In cases like these, we see that while a victim may have a forgiving spirit, the state cannot forsake injustice.
So it is with God’s justice... His justice will no more allow him simply to set us free than a human judge can cancel all the debts that criminals owe to society. The injury done to God’s glory by our sin must be repaired so that in justice his glory shines more brightly. And if we criminals are to go free and be forgiven, there must be some dramatic demonstration that the honor of God is upheld even though former blasphemers are being set free.
That is why Christ suffered and died. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses” (Ephesians 1:7). Forgiveness costs us nothing. All our costly obedience is the fruit, not the root, of being forgiven. That is why we call it grace. But it cost Jesus his life. That is why we call it just.
Oh, how precious is the news that God does not hold our sins against us! And how beautiful is Christ, whose blood made it right for God to do this.
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