Biblical Principles of forgiveness
in three parts
A Selection from UTENZI WA ADILI
by Swahili poet Shaaban Robert:
“For the benefit of his son, original form is made up of 100 verses.
Ni tone samahani,
La asali moyoni,
Mpewas na atoaye.
Forgivness is a drop
Of honey in the heart,
Happiness it brings
To the bestower and the bestowed alike.”
Sometimes, I forget my original purpose, the thrust of my complete devotion to the Christian walk: liberation.
More than a future foot tattoo, but a full and complete way of being:
to be liberated.
Overcoming the generational bondage of my family,
and my People,
I am compelled to walk with my Jesus.
knowing that this life I have been given is not my own,
but a testament to the liberating power of the Almighty.
Everyday my prayer is that my life be an example,
“a living epistle”
of overcoming all earthly, carnal, material shackles
to live free.
Aphesis: Applying God’s Principles –
In the Hebrew scriptures of the Old Testament, where God lays out His foundation for our moral, political and social basis as His human creation on His earth, the Word refers to forgiveness 59 times. 10 of those mentions are in the Holy book of Leviticus alone.
Forgiveness Principle 1: God requires justice and balance to His harmonious creation and achieves this by matching moral obligation for spiritual trespasses
This is taught in Leviticus 4:20-26 and 5:14-19 , explaining the traditional Jewish ritual for sacred payment of sin debt – sort of like balancing out our inevitable bad karma.
The original use of the word forgiveness as explained in the NAS Exhaustive Concordance provides a useful understanding of its important commitment in our spiritual growth.
The Hebrew is נָשָׂא (naw-saw’), a verb
meaning to lift, to carry, to take. It also says to accept, advance, arise, able to, armor, suffer, to bearer up, to bring forth…
Some examples of how it’s used in the OT are:
- raising-up of our voice
- the lifting up of our eyes
- the granting of our favor
- the sparing of our destruction
- the sustaining and bearing of weight.
Jesus deals very strongly with forgiveness, picking up on the Jewish tradition in many ways from his teachings to his testament and ultimate purpose. In fact, there are 62 mentions of the word in the Greek scriptures of New Testament. In fact, it comes up 12 times in the Gospel of St. Matthew and a whopping 18 times in the Gospel of St. Luke. Further, in one of my favorite set of epistles, the letters to the church in Corinth, Paul mentions forgiveness 12 times.
Forgiveness Principle 2: Jesus’ sacrifice is the sacred payment needed to restore our ability to have and maintain a harmonious & right relationship as God’s Creation with God, our Divine Creator
Jesus gets to the heart of forgiveness in Matthew 12:30-37. He teaches us that forgiveness starts in the heart and produces life or death through our words of faith. Obviously it’s a VIC: very-important-concept for our spiritual enlightenment.
In Strong’s Concordance, the Greek word is ἄφεσις (af’-es-is), a feminine noun defined similarly to dismissal, release as from bondage or imprisonment, and pardon…
The Concordance goes on to add further definitions including a complete forgiveness as if it had not been committed, a sending away, or a letting go.
HELPS Word Studies suggests that another cognate of aphesis is “releasing someone from obligation or debt.”
Immediately for Christians, this reminds of our Lord Jesus Christ in so many ways!
By the blood of His sacred sacrifice, we are forgiven!
Through God’s Great Loving-kindness and Compassion: We are washed clean of our sin nature, of our separation from His Love and given the power of God’s Spirit to live in freedom.
there are conditions.
For our spirit to receive the release of this great gift of love, it requires Faith to access this promise of joy, peace and power though this forgiveness.
Constantly renewing our faith in our own forgiveness and liberation through Christ gives us the freedom to forgive ourselves, our fellow human beings, and our life circumstances. By ever-strengthening our faith, we connect with God’s Spirit and maintain the acceptance our freedom.
The work aspect of faith is continually deepening our belief in our salvation through accepting the perfect gift and loving Divine Will God has toward us.
Yes, it is life’s work to grow in this knowledge and love.
But God’s Spirit helps us always…
Forgiveness Principle 3: Jesus’ life is our example how to walk and grow in the faith of our right relationship with God and is ensured by our insistence on remaining and abiding in his Holy Spirit
Forgiveness is a requirement. Jesus explains importance of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:12-15. Forgiveness of others is a central practice to develop our humility. It is a sign of denying the egoic self and becoming increasing more Christ-Like.
Forgiveness in the Greek is both liberty and deliverance,
also, letting go.
This is my favorite definition:
This requires an action.
Though the word aphesis is a noun, it implies an act. This is not all that surprising since the Hebrew usage, naw-saw, is a verb.
But it reminds us that the work of liberation is constant
– or perhaps, steady.
Liberation comes by paying attention always
to the binds which so easily ensnare us
and remaining in the practice
of letting go.
Listening to the Holy Spirit as it guides us
and acting accordingly,
not to our own will and deceptive desires
Letting go is a practice.
Letting it go is not simply renunciation work,
and not simply a relaxation technique.
It is more complex than that.
Because in practice, letting go is actually the maintenance of a resting state of humility.
There is a lot to be said about God’s insistence on humility as the necessary state of being required to “let go,” to “free,” to “release” – to forgive. Because it is the posture of non-attachment, of true repentance (metanoia), that births our freedom.
Maintenance of this “condition of forgiveness” becomes our state of being which in time develops into a way of being. Giving space to being liberated is liberation, no longer just working towards it.
This is a paradox, a koan for our limited human understanding. But, our constant attention to living liberated requires constant commitment to our own humility – renunciation of our ego – and through the consistency of effort, we become that state which we are attending to.
The verb becomes the noun.
The act becomes the state.
So, I leave you with these Psalms for encouragement
Psalm 19:12, 25:11, 32:1, 79:9, 103:3, 130:4
When we pray and talk to God, honestly pouring out our hearts like the psalmists, about our utter helplessness in our crises and confessing our dependence on God’s grace to overcome our nature, we humble ourselves to receive his blessings with deeper awareness.
May you always remain in the Spirit:
non-attached in all things.
Wishing you the constant peace of God today,