About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

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The Difference Between Forgiveness and Bad Feelings

In my last article I spoke about forgiveness being simply the canceling of the debt of sin. I derive this definition from the Greek word that is translated as forgive in the New Testament. So I now ask, "what does it mean to cancel someoneís debt of sin"?

To cancel someoneís sin is to "not hold them accountable for their sin". It is clear that when God forgives us of our sins after we repent, He no longer holds us accountable for that sin. That sin is removed from our lives in His eyes, and come the day of judgment we will not be judged for it. That sin is cancelled and will not be found in Godís ledger.

The same should apply to us when we cancel a debt of sin directed out way. We should no longer judge that person for the wrong. We should not hold that sin against them. We should act as if that person had never sinned against us in the first place. This is what the N. T. calls "justification". Upon repentance God justifies us. Upon repentance we should also justify a person who sins against us.

As I said in my last article, we are representatives of Jesus on earth. He has given us the authority to act in His place to pronounce both personal forgiveness and Godís forgiveness. This is what forgiveness really mean. It has little to do with any negative feelings or emotions we have against the person who sins against us.

Negative feelings are another issue altogether, although they are associated with the offence of the one sinning against us. As Christians, we are obligated to love others whether they sin against us or not, or whether they repent or not. Love is not conditional upon repentance. Forgiveness is conditional upon repentance. So if we have any negative feelings against a sinning person, we need to allow Jesus to deal with these feelings whether the sinning person repents or not.

The distinction between canceling the debt of sin and negative feelings associated with the sinner has become much clearer to me than ever. Maybe this will help you in your pursuit to understand these basic issues of our faith.

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