Forgiveness Is Awesome

Ever heard someone use the word “awesome?” How often do we hear it, or use it? I still use it, but have tried to curb my use dramatically. Here’s why: there are very few things in this world that we should stand in awe of. All of them pertain to God, all of them should be “awe” inspiring. For instance; we should be in awe of the universe! God created so much, simply because He is God. The birth of a human is another one of God’s feats that is awesome creating us in His image. There are lots of other things we could and should be in “awe” of, and we throw the word around with no real regard to what awe really is.
The dictionary defines awe: 1 : an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime <stood in awe of the king> <regard nature’s wonders with awe> archaic : DREAD, TERROR : the power to inspire dread

Totally awesome dude! Usually does not refer to something we are in dread, veneration and wonder of. But there is something that is totally awesome, something that creates those emotions in me, and should in all of us. Something so simple, yet so incredibly awesome: Forgiveness. God’s forgiveness is awesome. Here’s why:

Isaiah 59

Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken falsely, and your tongue mutters wicked things. No one calls for justice; no one pleads a case with integrity. They rely on empty arguments, they utter lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil. They hatch the eggs of vipers and spin a spider’s web. Whoever eats their eggs will die, and when one is broken, an adder is hatched. Their cobwebs are useless for clothing; they cannot cover themselves with what they make. Their deeds are evil deeds, and acts of violence are in their hands. Their feet rush into sin; they are swift to shed innocent blood. They pursue evil schemes; acts of violence mark their ways. The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths. They have turned them into crooked roads;  no one who walks along them will know peace. 9 So justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows. 10 Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like people without eyes. At midday we stumble as if it were twilight; among the strong, we are like the dead. 11 We all growl like bears; we moan mournfully like doves. We look for justice, but find none; for deliverance, but it is far away. 12 For our offenses are many in your sight, and our sins testify against us. Our offenses are ever with us, and we acknowledge our iniquities: 13 rebellion and treachery against the Lord, turning our backs on our God, inciting revolt and oppression, uttering lies our hearts have conceived. 14 So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter. 15 Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey. The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice. 16 He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm achieved salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him. 17 He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak. 18 According to what they have done, so will he repay wrath to his enemies and retribution to his foes; he will repay the islands their due. 19 From the west, people will fear the name of the Lord, and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory. For he will come like a pent-up flood that the breath of the Lord drives along. 20 “The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,” declares the Lord. 21 “As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever,” says the Lord.

All the things that God will do to those who sin…to those who are un-forgiven. God will put on the garments of vengeance and will repay us for our iniquities. Now that is awe-inspiring, that is awesome. While the vengeance of God is enough to convince me to seek forgiveness, there are other consequences to un-forgiveness. God created us to be in relationships, with Him and with others. If we are separated from God because of un-forgiveness, we are also separated from each other.

Proverbs 17:9 (NLT) Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.

When we are not forgiven by others, or when we don’t forgive others, it not only separates us from God, it separates us from our friends. Lost and lonely… Thank you God for your forgiveness! It is awesome! So how do we get God’s forgiveness? How do we obtain the promises that God has for those He has forgiven? There are a few steps…some prerequisites if you will, to obtain God’s forgiveness.

First: Hebrews 9:19-28 (NIV)

19 When Moses had proclaimed every command of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. 20 He said, “This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.”[a] 21 In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. 22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. 23 It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. 25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

So, in order to have forgiveness, there must be shedding of blood. Thank God that He gave His son for us, it is awesome that He shed His blood for us.

1 Peter 3:18 (NKJV) 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,

Ephesians 1:7 (NKJV) In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace

So our forgiveness has already been given to us by God, through the sacrifice of His son Jesus Christ. Christ suffered, shed His blood and died for our sins, so that we would have God’s forgiveness. Awesome. So we know what God has done for us so that we can have forgiveness. What do we have to do in order to be ready for God’s forgiveness? God gave us some directions, some steps we have to take. He tells us that the second greatest commandment is to love others as ourselves.

Leviticus 19:18 (NIV) 18 “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.

Here is what God says love means: 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a (NIV) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. […]

Love keeps no record of wrongs. Sounds like forgiveness. Christ speaks clearly:

Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV)14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father 15 will also forgive you. sins.

Paul also wrote in his letter to the Ephesians: Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

So the first pre-requisite for God’s forgiveness is that we forgive others. God’s word is clear that if we do not forgive others, He can’t forgive us.

Matthew 5:22-24 (NKJV) 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca! shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Leviticus 19:18 (NIV) 18 “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.

Christ also taught us to pray in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, and the order of His prayer was: Praise God, ask for sustenance (spiritual and physical,) ask for forgiveness, forgive everyone. Pretty important. Luke 11:2-4 (NIV) 2 He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread. 4 Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’”

So: step 1 – forgive others (all others, not just the people we like.)

Step 2 is confession: 1 John 1:9 (NIV) 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Perfectly clear.

Step 3: repentance. Asking God to forgive, forgiving others, confessing our sins are great, but if we do these things without repentance, they are merely words.

Jeremiah 15:19 (NIV) 19 Therefore this is what the LORD says: “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman. Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them.

Job 36:9-11 (NIV) 9 he tells them what they have done— that they have sinned arrogantly. 10 He makes them listen to correction and commands them to repent of their evil. 11 If they obey and serve him, they will spend the rest of their days in prosperity and their years in contentment.

So a quick recap: God has already forgiven us. His son shed His blood for us and died for our sins. Awesome! In order for us to receive the gift of forgiveness we must do a few things: 1) forgive others. 2) confess our own sins. 3) repent. When we do these things, God is faithful to forgive our sins His word reads:

Isaiah 38:17 (NKJV)17 Indeed it was for my own peace That I had great bitterness; But You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption, For You have cast all my sins behind Your back.

So many promises.

Isaiah 43:25 (NIV) 25 “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.

Psalm 103:12 (NIV)12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Awesome! Let’s pray.

A Life Essay in Forgiveness

Father’s Day, 2010

Every relationship is founded on Love, meaning that relationships find their stability and their flexibility in Love. Love is the commitment, the glue, the mortar, in relationships, the unchanging, unmoving, unbroken thing that enables the relationship to be lived in peace, harmony and excitement. Upon the foundation of Love, the structure of each relationship is built. The elements of that structure are service and forgiveness.

Today, the Holy Spirit would have us focus on the issue of forgiveness, and we take as our initial text the Story of Joseph, which begins in Genesis 29, when Rachel became the wife of Jacob, but remained barren, even though Rachel’s sister, Leah, who also had become the wife of Jacob, became pregnant and bore a son, Reuben, to Jacob, in fact, several sons (See Genesis 29: 16- 35).

The more children Leah bore to Jacob, the more angry and jealous Rachel became (see Genesis 30:1-7), and she felt disgraced in her barrenness, and she went to every length to win the reproduction competition with her sister, Leah. Finally, in Genesis 30:22, we find that God – who creates life and opens wombs – remembered Rachel and opened her womb, and she born a son for Jacob, a son she named Joseph, saying “God has taken away my disgrace”.

In the life of Joseph, we see certain very important lessons, and if we apply them to our relationship to God and our relationships with each other, through the Blood of Jesus, we will find that our own disgrace is taken away, by God’s forgiveness of

our sins, by His grace, through our faith, and not of our own works or doings.

Let’s look briefly at those lessons from Joseph’s life, as recounted beginning in Genesis 37-50, and here is the background which you probably know: Out of jealousy, Joseph’s brothers (except Reuben) sold him into slavery to Ishmaelite merchants (distant cousins??!!), faked his death by a wild animal and lied to their father in cover up. The Ishmaelites then sold Joseph to Pottiphar, a high official (Captain of the Guard) of Pharoah in Egypt, and Joseph became a slave in Pottiphar’s household. Pottiphar’s wife liked Joseph and the way he looked and tried to seduce him, and he refused, and she lied that he had attempted to sleep with her, and so Joseph was tossed into jail. While in jail, he interpreted the dreams of two minor officials who had also been tossed into jail, and the result was that one was freed and the other executed. Later, while Joseph was still in jail, Pharaoh had two dreams, which no one could interpret. The man whose dreams had been interpreted by Joseph in jail, whose life was thus spared, informed Pharaoh of his experience with Joseph, and Pharaoh called for Joseph. Joseph was brought from the jail, cleaned up, and presented to Pharaoh. Pharaoh requested Joseph to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams. Joseph interpreted the dreams, which prophesied the forthcoming famines, and the Pharaoh decided Joseph should be in charge of all Egypt, and so Joseph became second in command, next to the Pharaoh, over all of Egypt. Joseph ran the country, produced food and stored it up; the famines came; Joseph’s family – brothers and father, etc. – in Cannan were running out of food, and so some of them were sent by Jacob to Egypt to buy food. Cutting through the details, Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him (he had an Egyptian name at this point and had grown up many years since when they had sold him when he was only seventeen years old). Joseph provided them food and arranged for his whole family to move to Egypt and be provided food. And this is also the story of the beginnings of the Egyptian bondage of the Israelites, foreshadowed by the sale of Joseph into Egyptian slavery.

We find some significant verses in this perusal of Genesis 37-5039:2, “The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered”; 39:3, “When his master saw that the Lord was with (Joseph), and that the Lord gave (Joseph) success in every thing he did, Joseph found favor in (Pottiphar’s) eyes and became his attendant. Pottiphar put (Joseph) in charge of his household and he entrusted to (Joseph’s) care everything (Pottiphar) owned”; 39:6b-10, “Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while (Pottiphar’s) wife took notice of Joseph and said, ‘Come to bed with me!’ But (Joseph refused. ‘With me in charge,’ he told her, ‘my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?’ [Ed. Notice, not sin against Pottiphar but God.] And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her”; 39:20b-23, “But while Joseph was in prison, the Lord was with him; He showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and (Joseph) was made responsible for all that was done there. The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in everything he did”; 41:15-16, “Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.’ ‘I cannot do it,’ Joseph replied to Pharaoh, ‘but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.’’; 41:39-40, “Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.’”; 42:25-26, “Joseph gave orders to fill (his brothers’) bags with grain, to put each man’s silver back in his sack, and to give them provisions for their journey (back to Cannan). After this was done for them, they loaded their grain on their donkeys and left.”; 43:30, “Deeply moved at the sight of his brother (Benjamin), Joseph hurried out and looked for a place to weep. He went into his private room and wept there.”; 45:1-15


Now, what do we see about the character of Joseph in all We see forgiveness, and the heart of humility it requires!

  1. Joseph held always to humility before God, and took no personal credit for any of the good and great things he did.
  2. Joseph made the best of each horrible circumstance he was put into, through no fault of his own, without sacrificing God’s standards, and staying constantly in God’s presence.
  3. Joseph did not lose his humility, nor even as a high official in a pagan land, nor did he lose his commitment to God and God’s standards for living life.
  4. Joseph always trusted and served God.
  5. Joseph understood what we know as theprinciple of Romans 8:28, as in verse 50:19- 21, “But Joseph said to them (his brothers), ‘Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for God to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children. And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.”
  6. Joseph forgave his brothers, in spite of what they had done to him in jealously andmeanness!
  7. In that spirit and life of forgiveness, Joseph served not only Pottiphar, he also served Pottiphar’s wife by not agreeing to her ministrations, he served the warden of the jail and those in the jail, he served Pharaoh, he served the people of Egypt, he served his brothers and his family.

What great lessons about life, and faith, and humility and courage, and forgiveness we learn from Joseph.

In a large sense, we learn from Joseph the essential lessons of the gospel of Jesus Christ: truth and grace are what forgiveness is built on. I John 1: 9, if we confess (“truth”) our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. His forgiveness is by grace, Ephesians 2:8.

In our relationships with God and each other – whether in marriage, parent-child, workplace, commerce, social, church, general, we need to govern ourselves in the knowledge of how love is the foundation of all good relationships that are good relationships, and polluted love is the foundation of all bad relationships, and how forgiveness and service are the elements of the structure on the foundation of love, which are the building blocks of relationships, and truth and grace are the things that fasten relationships all together in strength and richness and stability, as God’s love is poured out in us, 1 John 4: 19, because He first loved us, and through us and back to Him.

Examine yourselves, and ask this simple question, in your private room (like where Joseph wept), where is there friction in my relationship with God, and with my wife or husband or children or parents – (let the circle widen out)? And as you identify particular spots of friction, starting at the center, with God, then going outwards, write them down, and write down what you can do, out of love and with the Holy Spirit’s direction, even whether you want to do so or not, to forgive and to serve the ones you love, with whom you are in relationship. You are not responsible for their reactions, but you are responsible for your actions. Only you can ask God to soften your heart, and only you can receive that softening and apply it in your heart, to soften to those where your relationships are burdened with friction and anger, and distrust and enmity, so you can be humble enough to be courageous to take the lead in rebuilding, restoring, sustaining, relationships, which is Love. Let your life be an essay in forgiveness!

God bless you and amen+