Sunday, August 22, 2010

Aug. 22 Forgiveness as step one

Guest blogger, Stan Nussbaum, takes us on a journey through the messianic year calendar.

Welcome to the journey of our Messiah through the year with Dr. Nussbaum.

Forgiveness as step one

“But the Son of God came to destroy these works of the Devil.” 1 Jn. 3:8 (NLT)

Last week we saw that Jesus is taking control of the world not by force but by forgiveness. He is the all-powerful King yet he presents himself to the world as the High Priest. Cynics will not respect Jesus’ strategy, but only because they fail to see that the Father’s plan is absolutely brilliant on this point, as it is everywhere else.

Imagine the balls on a pool table at the start of a game. The original sin of Adam and Eve was the cue ball that made the original break. The impact sent balls flying in all directions, each with some sin momentum. Now the balls (as if on some friction-less surface) continue to bounce off the cushions and collide with each other endlessly. In each collision some of the sin momentum of each ball is transferred to the other and some of the momentum of the other ball is absorbed, but the total amount of momentum does not change.

There are two ways to stop the chaos. One is to pick up the balls and put them into the pockets, which is the “kingly” approach of applying force. The other is to put very soft pads on the cushions, which is the “priestly” approach of absorbing force. The pads “forgive” the impact by changing their shape, and their ability to do so deadens the sin momentum of the balls. The vicious cycle of collision and ricochet is broken. The balls settle down and share the table.

The pads are a picture of forgiveness, step one of the Father’s two-step strategy for bringing sin under control. When forgiveness is granted to any of us because of the blood of Christ, it deadens the momentum of the sin that is already in the world, that is, it prevents sin from triggering more sin as a reaction and thus perpetuating itself.

To change the image, we could say that if a sinful action does not give birth to a sinful reaction, sin is sterilized. It is not reproducing. It is under control in the sense that a disease like cancer may be said to be “under control” if its growth is arrested. The patient’s condition is stable though cancer is still present. That type of control is step one of the Father’s plan, and forgiveness establishes control of sin to that extent.

Step two means finishing the job, eradicating the cancer that was previously brought “under control.” That is the kind of control the Messiah now exerts gradually in us through the Holy Spirit. He will impose it totally on the whole world when he comes again as the King and Judge. Those who will not have the sin cut out of them will themselves be cut off from the Messiah’s kingdom.

If we understand the two steps, it becomes clear why Jesus made forgiveness of others a non-negotiable demand on us, absolutely essential from the start. Forgiving other people is not just one more item in a long list of good things a Christian should try to do, such as love, pray, be truthful, etc. It is in a category all its own, the one thing we must do.

If we do not forgive others, we are rejecting step one of God’s two-step master plan. We are not getting with the Messiah’s program at all. “The Son of God came to destroy these works of the Devil,” (1 Jn. 3:8), but if we hold things against the people who wrong us, we are letting sin against us continue to breed new sin within us. The sin cycle is not broken. The imperative of forgiveness is so crucial that the whole reading next week will focus on it.

Welcome: Jesus, our High Priest, our sin-deadener, we love you so much. Come and cut the sin out of us so we will never be cut off from you.

Affirmation: The shock-absorbing capacity of Jesus’ sacrifice has deadened my inner impulsion to sin. I am forgiven. I can forgive. I do forgive.



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