What is the hardest thing in the Christian life? Probably a majority of Christians would agree—forgiveness, for it is not easy to forgive one who has seriously and grievously wronged you. Yet, Jesus put forgiveness at the center of Christian living. He forgave men their sins, and for this the Pharisees opposed him and finally crucified him. Their contention was that he was assuming prerogatives belonging only to God; and in a sense they were right for only God, himself being sinless, could truly forgive. But where they erred, of course, was in that they rejected Christ’s claim to be God. It was Christ who put forgiveness central in the Christian life, and it was God in Christ doing it.

Four Sides To Forgiveness

We note that upon consideration there are really four sides to forgiveness. The first is God’s forgiveness of us. The Bible teaches us that God forgives; nevertheless, we know from Scripture that it cost God a most terrible price to forgive us of our sins. It cost him the death of his Son at Calvary. By his very nature of righteousness and holy perfection, God could never at any time condone sin; his attitude toward it was and always will be one of righteous hatred. But when we say that God forgives us of our sin, we are nonetheless uttering a terrible and wonderful truth!

The second side of forgiveness, we note, is our forgiveness of ourselves. To be able to face oneself and at the same time accept oneself is often very hard. But only as we learn to forgive ourselves, can we experience self-acceptance and impose self-criticism at the same time. This side of forgiveness involves a matter of faith, of truly believing that, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all ...

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