We have seen in Part 1 of this post, that there are indeed remaining places on planet earth with Shangri-La  and Eden-like descriptions–where pristine beauty still exists, exhibiting a heavenly atmosphere that is peaceful, pure, clean, fresh, unspoiled, uncorrupted and unpolluted;  a remote and exotic utopia; a faraway haven or hideaway of idyllic beauty and tranquility.  But the mythical Florida Shangri-La “Beluthahatchee” where all unpleasantness is forgiven and forgotten never exist.

We have seen also that the inclination of man’s heart is to exact revenge to the offense s/he received from others.  That they are implacable people, like the native American Indians, who are unwilling to be reconciled where there is a quarrel; or who pursue the offender with unyielding revenge at all cost.

Whenever we hold grudges and not willing to forgive our offenders, we live a life of misery and unhappiness.  We are experiencing a double-edged sword-like existence of guilt and bitterness.  Guilt imprisons us and bitterness poisons us.  But when we learn to forgive others we are freeing two prisoners; one of them is you.

We left off where Paul says we are to forgive others as God in Christ has forgiven us.  We are to forgive others exactly the same manner we are forgiven by God.  How God in Christ forgiven us of our sins?  Here then is the arithmetic–the mathematical equation, addition and summation–of God’s forgiveness.

The Bible authors writing in the inspiration of God used metaphors or word pictures to vividly describe how God in Christ has forgiven us.  We are to look then to these pictorial expressions to understand the extent of God’s forgiveness.

Psalms 103:12 reads “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”  How far is the east from the west?  Notice the psalmist didn’t say “as far as the north is from the south, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”  If you start due north at any point on earth, you would eventually cross over the North Pole and start going south, but that is not true when you go east or west.  If you start west and continue in that direction you will always be going west.  North and south meet at the North Pole, but east and west never meet.  In a sense, they are an infinite distance apart.  So when God says He removes our transgression from us as far as the east is from the west, He is saying they have been removed an infinite distance from us.

North Pole and South Pole

This metaphorical expression describes the extent of God’s forgiveness of our sins—total, complete and unconditional.  God is not keeping score, or a record, or a journal with regard to our sins.  He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities (Psalm 103:10).  How can He so completely regard our transgression as to say He removes them an infinite distance from us?  The answer is by His grace through Jesus Christ.  Grace is defined as God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense.  Mercy is not receiving what we deserved for our sins which is death, the wages we earned by our sins.  Grace on the one hand is receiving what we do not deserved.  We do not deserved God’s love and forgiveness.  Yet because of the grace of God we were forgiven for our sins and had been reconciled to all because of Christ’s death on the cross.  Romans 5:10 says “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” So the GRACE FACTOR is a compelling reason why we are to forgive others of the wrong done to us.

Through the prophet Isaiah said of God, “For you have cast all my sins behind your back” (Isaiah 38:17). This is another pictorial expression to describe the extent of God’s forgiveness of our sins. When something is behind our back, it is out of sight.  We can’t see it anymore.  God says He has done that with our sins.  We know we sin daily—in fact, many times a day.  Whenever we sin in the Christian life and go to God for his forgiveness, He always forgives us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
And God no longer “sees” our sins, instead He “sees” the righteousness of Christ, which He has already imputed to us.  And note that our sins do not just happen to be behind God’s back, He has put them there.  He do this and still be a just and holy God?  Again, the answer is that Jesus Christ paid the penalty we should have paid.   A classic hymn aptly put it:  “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

(To be continued)

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