Forgiveness of sin is offered by God to all men who obey God’s will.
Jesus taught, “Not every one that saith unto me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my father, which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?’ And then will I profess unto them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, ye that work iniquity’” (Matthew 7:21–23). It has been and remains his desire for all men to be saved (I Timothy 2:4).
God sent his son to pay a debt that man could not and cannot pay – the debt of sin. By the shedding of his blood at Calvary, Christ opened the way of salvation to all the obedient (Hebrews 5:8-9). Christians know the joy and peace of being forgiven of all their sins; all men should seek to know this peace.
Knowing this forgiveness and understanding it is God’s plan, and Christ willingly giving himself for man should inspire all men to follow his teachings and to live as Christ lived. The love that God showed to us should show in our relationship to others. We need to stand ready to forgive, even as God has forgiven us. Jesus taught this while on Earth (Matthew 18:21–35).
Some find this lesson hard to put into practice. It is contrary to the world’s idea of how men should interact. How dare someone cause harm to me and expect forgiveness! Yet they have caused harm to others and expect total forgiveness. Holding a grudge is another way of life with some — never forgetting a wrong, always ready to bring up old “hatchets” at a moment’s notice.
Christians must realize how great a debt was forgiven them when they obeyed God. The servant in the parable (Matthew 18:21) was so relieved when he was forgiven by his master. What a relief he must have felt. Yet his worldly nature burst out when he dealt with his fellow servant.
Paul wrote, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (Romans 5:6–10).
Patience and understanding go hand in hand with learning to forgive others. They may not always live up to expectations, but those expectations may be higher than God’s.
In the Ephesian letter, Paul expressed the character and temperament that Christians should use with each other. “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice. And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:1, 2, 30-32).
God offers forgiveness to all who obey him. And just as God stands ready to forgive, so must we who are Christians stand ready to forgive others.