About Jesus Steve Sweetman
The following are two chapters taken
from my book entitled
Click here to to read the whole book on divorce and remarriage.
- Forgiveness In The Midst
you forgive her? If you
don't, bitterness will eat you alive", my friend said.
equate forgiveness with relinquishing bitterness and resentment?
I heard a psychologist being interviewed on CNN saying the same
thing", I replied.
stopped watching CNN, so I missed that".
may disagree, so try to think this through.
Ridding yourself of resentment is important but it's not Biblical
forgiveness. The Greek word
'aphiemi' is commonly translated as forgive in our English New
Testament. To understand
Biblical forgiveness you need to know what this word means and how
Jesus, Paul, and others used it. We
can't impose a 21st century English concept onto a first
century Greek word. That's
bad hermeneutics and does harm to both the Bible and our
hermeneutics the art of Biblical interpretation"?
I answered. "Aphiemi
means to get rid of or to cancel. It
wasn't a religious word. It
was an everyday street level word".
the psychologist on CNN is right. You
get rid of your resentment".
he's not right. Forgiveness
isn't getting rid of resentment. It's
getting rid of, or cancelling, the offense that causes resentment.
It's the offense that's canceled, not the resentment.
Think of aphieni as an accounting term, as in, I aphiemi or
cancel your bank loan".
that's my kind of aphiemi".
Bible portrays God as having an accounting system where He records our
good deeds and our sins".
can agree with that", my friend said.
views our sin as a debt owed to Him.
Jesus stepped into our indebted situation and paid the price to
have our debt forgiven or deleted from God's spread sheet.
In order to complete this transaction we need to admit that we've
been over our heads with this debt of sin and then walk away from a life
of indebtedness. In Bible
terms this is called repentance. So,
forgiveness is the process by which God deletes, cancels, or forgives,
our debt of sin upon our genuine repentance".
I get it so far".
the gospel. I sin.
I admit my sin. I
repent of my sin. I trust my
life to Jesus. God wipes my
record clean, and I'm reconciled to Him. Do
agree, but you're asking me leading questions that you know I'll agree
to, then when you ask me the last clincher question I have no choice but
to agree, even if I don't. I
understand repentance is important".
is crucial. There's no
forgiveness without repentance. Check
these verses out. 'Unless
you repent, you too will perish', Luke 13:5.
'If he says … I repent, forgive him', Luke 17:4.
'Repent … for the forgiveness of sin', Acts 2:38.
'Repent … that your sins may be wiped out', Acts 3:19.
It's clear, repenting precedes being forgiven".
what's the next leading question"?
is none. It's the clinching
question. If God doesn't
forgive an offender's sin without him repenting, does He expect us to
forgive the offender's sin without him repenting"?
plead the fifth amendment on that one".
I'll move to the States to escape the onslaught of your questions".
about you just plead ignorance".
about you just keep explaining".
New Testament Greek culture viewed repenting as changing one's mind
about his sin. Old Testament
Hebrew culture viewed repenting as turning away from one's sin.
Do you see the difference"?
Greeks culture just changed its thinking about sin while Hebrews culture
walked away from its sin".
on bro. Western culture
tends to follow Greek thought on this issue.
Although the New Testament was written
in Greek, it was based on Old Testament Hebrew. So,
Biblical repentance is more than acknowledging and changing our minds
about sin. More importantly,
it's actually walking away from sin".
never thought about it that way".
forgiveness isn't the relinquishing of bitterness as important as that
is. It's the cancelation of
an offense once the offender exhibits genuine repentance".
think about this. In Matthew
9:6 the Pharisees blasted Jesus for thinking He was authorized to
forgive sin. The Pharisees
were right when in Luke 5:21 they said that only God could forgive sin.
They were wrong in thinking God had not authorized Jesus to
forgive sin. God did
authorize Jesus to forgive sin, and in like manor, as Jesus'
representatives, He authorizes us to forgive sin on His behalf.
John 20:22 and 23 says, 'If you forgive anyone his sins, they are
forgiven, if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven".
Biblical forgiveness is all about us acting on the behalf of
Jesus. We cancel the sin on
earth. God cancels it in
friend looked totally confused. "So
did you forgive her"?
can't forgive or cancel an offense if there's no acknowledgement and
repentance of the offense. I
can however, demonstrate Biblical love to her".
you love but don't forgive? You've
got more explaining to do brother. Your
aphiemi accounting practices don't add up on my theological
- Love At The End Of Marriage
my aphiemi accounting practices don't add up because we've left love out
of the equation. Remember,
Biblical love can't be divorced from Biblical truth, and Biblical truth
demands that forgiveness is only granted upon the offender repenting.
In Biblical terms, love and forgiveness are two separate issues.
Forgiveness is conditional upon repentance.
Love is unconditional. So
Jesus tells me to extend love to her whether she repents or not.
Love can encourage repentance, and if she repents, the offense is
cancelled from God's records and reconciliation becomes possible.
The goal of repentance isn't forgiveness.
It's reconciliation. God
doesn't ask us to repent just so our sins can be forgiven.
We repent so that we can be forgiveness.
We're forgiven so we can be reconciled to a holy God. Do
you get that"?
friend hesitated. "I
sound a bit unsure. Anyway,
extending love is one way to get rid of hostility and resentment ".
talking about love in the midst of divorce.
That sounds very weird", he said as he scratched his head.
might help explain. It took
place on the sidewalk in front of my house.
On his way to school my 8 year old son asked if my friend and I
could help his mom put a TV stand together after we moved her stuff into
her new apartment. I told
him we'd help her".
friend was surprised. "You
helped her move out"?
did. I guess if I was a real
man I would have answered my son by saying, 'Hell no, she can put the
damn thing together herself'. What
signal would that have sent him?
How could he have seen the love of God in me?
For his sake, and the sake of his salvation, I had to demonstrate
love without violating truth".
again he said, "I guess".
believe when couples divorce, it makes it hard for a child to find
Jesus. They've been taught
to love, but experience separation.
That troubles me".
if some kind of love can be demonstrated during and after divorce, that
softens the blow for children".
not talking about philos style reciprocal love, and we're certainly not
talking about eros erotic love.
We're talking about agape love, thinking of your children and
others instead of yourself. As
crazy as it sounds, expressing agape in the midst of divorce will rid
you of resentment, keep you sane, do wonders for your children, and
maybe keep things on an even keel. To
be honest, it's not easy and it's often rejected.
Jesus demonstrated the most definitive expression of love in
history while on the cross, but He was still rejected and despised. Love
doesn't fix every problem".
hear what you're saying, but I'm not sure I agree ".
okay, but all I hear about divorce and remarriage these days makes me
squirm in the pew, although I seldom sit in one".