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Forgive Sins

Forgive Sins

30 March 2015

Reading: John 20; Psalm 75

Scripture:

22 Then he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you refuse to forgive them, they are unforgiven.” (John 20:22-23 NLT)

I’ve read these verses before, you know! “If you forgive anyone’s sins they are forgiven. If you refuse to forgive them, they are not forgiven.” That is some pretty challenging theology, don’t you think? “If we forgive anyone’s sins they are forgiven.” Does that mean what I think it does? “If we don’t forgive someone’s sins, they are not forgiven.” Did Jesus really mean it just the way it sounds? It’s actually very tempting to try to find some other way to interpret what Jesus was saying here!

So as I was reading this in several other translations (was I looking for a loophole?), I came across this reading from Eugene Peterson’s “The Message” translation: “If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good. If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?” (John 20:23 MSG) No loophole here!

What am I going to do with the sins of people who sin against me if I don’t forgive them? What am I going to do with the sins of people who profess to be Christians and then commit sins? What am I going to do with the sins I don’t forgive?

Am I going to hold those sins against those people? Then that makes me a judge, not a forgiver. If I don’t forgive other people’s sins, what am I going to do with them? Am I stuck with the sins of people I don’t forgive? Does my unwillingness to forgive make other people’s sins my problem? Are the sins I don’t forgive going to eat away at me like a cancer of my soul?

Please, friends, just bear with me for a few moments! This is something I’ve got to think through. If I don’t forgive sins, what am I going to do with them? Am I at my best, is my faith at its strongest, am I exercising the greatest power God has given to his church when I forgive sins? Is forgiving other people’s sins the most God-honoring, Jesus-like thing I can do?

Prayer:

Father, If I don’t forgive other people’s sins, what am I going to do with them? Please help me take another step forward in learning how you think and in becoming more like you. Help me to embrace your forgiveness more deeply, and help me to live and to love others as a forgiven forgiver. I want to represent you better in my world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.



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