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Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone

Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone

Posted: Friday, December 21, 2012 12:53 pm

The Messenger, December 20, 2012
Forgiveness

By JOHN K. JONES
Special to The Messenger
Our look into the Heidelberg Catechism continues today with question and answer number 126.  Question: What does the fifth request mean? Answer: “Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors” means, Because of Christ’s blood, do not hold against us, poor sinners that we are, any of the sins we do or the evil that constantly clings to us (Psalm 51:1-7, Psalm 143:2, Romans 8:1, I John 2:1-2).  Forgive us just as we are fully determined, as evidence of your grace in us, to forgive our neighbors (Matthew 6:14-15, Matthew 18:21-25).
Scholars and theologians have called The Lord’s Prayer by the name “Christ’s Model Prayer.” It is Christ’s example of a prayer that His followers should pray.
Jesus in His model prayer speaks to His followers and tells them to ask forgiveness for their sins.  Why would He do that if the people who sincerely follow Him had no sin to confess?
Christians are never perfect. Sin “constantly clings to (them).” Sin and transgression taint their good works.
However, Christians are the kind of people who confess their sins and turn from them to good works. Christians get better over the course of their lives. Christ will not leave them as they are.
This repentance (or, turning from sin to Christ) is “evidence of [God’s] grace in [them].” God always brings about the changes, no matter what it costs. He will discipline His children for their good to help them to look like Christ (Hebrews 12:3-17, Romans 8:28-29). The changes God works include bringing about a humble attitude that forgives others from the heart.
Forgiveness is complicated sometimes. Christians disagree over the concept in certain circumstances, but all agree forgiveness is the right thing to do.
True forgiveness always brings about restoration of a relationship (reconciliation). It may result in a very different relationship, like for a spouse who forgives her repentant husband his infidelity yet divorces him as Christ allows (Matthew 19:9). It may also be something that looks very different when the person who sins against the Christian does not repent.
Christ teaches that Christians are to forgive those who are repentant, those who stop sinning against them (Luke 17:1-4). A Christian should always be ready and willing to forgive another person if that person repents. He should never seek to get even, because God will hold the one who sins against the Christian accountable (Isaiah 34:8, Romans 12:19, Hebrew 10:30). We are never to carry a grudge. However, Christians do not owe someone a renewed relationship (reconciliation) when he does not repent.
May God help us to repent when we sin and to forgive others their sins against us from the heart.
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Editor’s note: John K. Jones is a deacon at Grace Presbyterian Church on the square in Troy, where he attends with his family.

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