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No One Just Forgives

No One Just Forgives

If God is as all-powerful, all good, and as all-loving I suggest, why couldn’t God just forgive?

Payment for sin – really? Seems beneath God to insist on a penalty for the sins of people who had no choice but to sin. Maybe even cruel. If this god is really THE God couldn’t God just forgive?

Here is an important truth: No One EVER Just Forgives.

Tim Keller says, “No one can just forgive. Whenever there sin there is a loss and a cost. Whenever you commit a wrong against someone, there is a loss and cost. And either you the sinner or the forgiver bear the cost – the cost doesn’t just go away.”

Several years ago I was sitting on the deck with my eight year old. I was reading a book, he was playing with my iPad. I had given clear instructions about how to hold the iPad – instructions that were ignored. Next thing I knew the device was upside-down on the concrete – screen shattered.

I had a choice. I could be gracious and forgive. Or, I could make him pay to replace the screen. But neither choice was free. Either he would pay for the “sin,” or in my forgiveness I would pay. But, someone had to pay – no one JUST forgives. Either the sinner or the forgiver pay.

How does God forgive? He lifts up his only Son. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) This couldn’t mean God made him sinful. He didn’t become sinful, he became SIN – he legally became the curse. He got what we deserved.

Scripture is clear about this cosmic truth, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.” (Galatians 3:13)

And even better than Jesus becoming the curse for us – victory comes when you simply look to Jesus. The power of the resurrection is available to you. Jesus became the curse. He took your shame, rejection, betrayal – and was lifted up like the serpent.

How does God just forgive? Jesus paid the price…so look to him.

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Chris Lawson

Founder of, husband to Merri, father to Adam, Ellie, and Zachary, and executive pastor @reynoldachurch. Lives to make Jesus famous. He enjoys watching the Atlanta Braves and UNC basketball, as well as demeaning and insulting whatever sports teams you root for. He knows a disturbing amount about television and movies.

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