On Sunday mornings this summer, Heritage is exploring different myths commonly believed within Christianity during a “Mythbusters” teaching series. The week after each topic is taught from a biblical perspective, this blog will further dive into the issue at hand. We pray that this teaching series and the blog article that accompanies it will serve to be a resource as you reach your world for Christ.
By: Heather Templeton
Photo: Heather Michele Photo
The topic of forgiveness is both widely discussed and widely debated.
To get to the bottom of this myth and what it truly means to forgive, we must first look at the root of sin.
Jeremiah 17:9 states that “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Romans 3:23 goes on to say “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
The bottom line: we all blow it.
Sometimes on purpose and sometimes inadvertently.
But the end result is the same: we are all flawed and in need of forgiveness.
So this leads us into the question of equality within the realm of sin.
Are all sins the same, or are some worse than others?
In my research on this, I came across an article by Billy Graham. He put it best when he said this:
“It is always difficult and dangerous to attempt to list sins according to their degree of seriousness. In one sense, all sins are equal in that they all separate us from God….At the same time, it seems obvious that some sins are worse than others in both motivation and effects, and should be judged accordingly. Stealing a loaf of bread is vastly different than exterminating a million people.”
Sin separates us from God. And whether that be a “small” sin or a “large” one, sin at the root is a heart issue that denotes rebellion against the ways our Father has told us (His children) how we should live.
Ok, so now what?
We all sin. Check.
All sins are equal in that we need to confess them and be forgiven in order to become right with God. Check.
The next part is uncomfortable at the very least and downright painful in many circumstances.
Does forgiving mean forgetting?
No. I do not believe it does. And here is my reasoning:
The true nature of the word “forget” is synonymous with such phrases as “to banish from one’s thoughts” and “abandon or disregard.”
The Bible makes no mention of forgetting with regards to forgiveness apart from what Christ Himself does for us.
As humans, we are wired to remember. Short of memory loss, I cannot fathom how true forgetting is possible in our current state.
Memories can be triggered by any of our five senses.
A whiff of perfume that my deceased mother wore brings me right back to our trip to Disneyland as a family when I was only eight years old; the first time I recall her wearing that scent.
A song from my college days pops onto the radio and I’m immediately transported back to classes, late night study sessions, and friendships I haven’t thought about in years.
Glancing though old photo albums brings up joyful (and sorrowful) memories of holidays past, family gatherings, and moving out of my childhood home of twenty years after I graduated college.
We are wired to remember.
So if we aren’t expected to forget, the question then becomes: how do we truly forgive without holding a grudge?
The answer is BY REMEMBERING.
I remember what Christ did for me.
I remember that while I was still in my sin, separated from Him and without hope of redemption, He reached down and touched the dead parts of my heart and brought them to life.
I remember that, although I was abandoned by my biological parents on earth, I can choose to forgive as Christ has given me a home and a place with Him.
I remember that I have lied. I have cheated. I have gossiped.
I have lost my temper. I have put God second. I have loved myself above all else.
I have sinned. And His mercy covers EVERY SINGLE ONE.
He knew everything I would ever do and think and feel before He laid the foundations of the earth, and He still chose to save me. To love me. TO FORGIVE ME.
I remember that because grace has been so lavishly poured out on me, I cannot help but pour it out onto others.
Where sin abounds, grace abounds more. (Romans 5:20)
When we stop to remember all that Jesus has done and continues to do for us, we cannot help but be in awe of His character and begin to emulate Him. He is good, ALL the time.
I am not saying that forgiveness should come easy.
Sometimes it takes years to truly forgive a hurt so deep that it has become a part of your very being.
But I encourage you to take the first step.
Cry out to Jesus.
He is waiting. And He KNOWS.
He knows because He experienced each and every sin on the cross.
Every betrayal. Every lie. Every selfish act that would wound another.
He took it all upon Himself so that we could be free.
So give it to Him.
And when the devil tries to pull you back into the pain and the sorrow, rebuke him in the powerful name of Jesus and immediately recall the peace of the Lord that passes all understanding.
“Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.” Louis B Smedes