The Power of Forgiveness
Oct 30, 2006
In any study of biblical law, the biggest obstacle that one encounters is the law's inability to forgive. It is not the function of the law to forgive, for it can only condemn sin. That is its divine mandate, and it has no power to go beyond it.
When a biblical judge--even one who judges by the Holy Spirit--judges a case between two disputing parties, he must decide the case according to the law's standard of righteousness. He must condemn the guilty and justify the righteous impartially. This is justice. It is not within the scope of a judge's authority to forgive a sin that a man has committed against his neighbor, for that would be an injustice to the wronged party.
The judge is authorized only to determine guilt, calculate the damages that he has caused his neighbor, and then decree the amount that the sinner owes his neighbor for those damages. If he decrees a penny less than what is lawfully owed, he is being unjust toward the wronged party. If he decrees a penny more, he is being unjust to the sinner.
But once the decree is issued, the victim of the crime has the option of forgiving all or any portion of the debt that is owed to him. Only the victim is authorized to forgive, and his very victimhood is the source of his authority.
We have all been victims of injustice. That is the nature of things in this present age. Therefore, we all have the authority to forgive. Each of us has a unique authority to forgive the injustice that has occurred in each of our own lives. Are you a victim of injustice? Rejoice, knowing that this gives you the authority that no one else has. Only you can forgive a sin committed against you. As part of the Body of Christ, the Scripture in John 1:17 applies to us as much as to Christ, though admittedly on a smaller scale.
"For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ."
The law can only define justice by its righteous standard. The law is not the source of grace or forgiveness, which comes only through those who know Truth--the Person of Jesus Christ.
This brings up the biblical principle of intercession. Since not everyone forgives, others are called to help them extend grace and forgiveness to the extent of their spiritual authority. As I wrote in my book, Principles of Intercession, intercession involves: identification, then bearing their iniquity, being put to death, being raised to life again, being given spiritual authority, and finally reaping the harvest of love, which brings many sons into glory.
Jesus came to earth to identify with us. He suffered false accusation in which the people placed the blame for their own sin upon Him. Then they killed Him for that sin. But He rose again and was seated at the right hand of the Father to bring many sons into glory.
We all like the last part of intercession. No one wants to go through the bitter days of false accusation that tests one's love and is the price of spiritual authority. Yet love is not really love until one has learned to love one's enemies. Phileo loves one's friends. Agape loves one's enemies as well. Both are valid, but one is greater.
Love and Forgiveness are brothers of the closest kind. Where one is, so is the other. In the process of intercession, we must experience the bitterness of false accusation in order to overcome it by the power of forgiveness. In overcoming it within ourselves, we overcome it on behalf of those for whom we are called to intercede. In learning to love and forgive, we are given an increased spiritual authority, for God gives authority only according to our capacity to love. On this is based the axiom that we will never own anything that we do not love. Its corollary is that we will never be given spiritual authority over anything or anyone that we do not love.
Jesus showed us the way. The love that gives us spiritual authority is a love that is willing to die for one's enemies and forgive them in the process, even as Jesus did on the cross. For us, we are not generally called to die on a cross, nor are we capable of bearing the sin of the whole world. Yet as His Body, we are called to taste the cup of wine that He drank (Matt. 20:23), and walk even as He walked (1 John 2:6).
Jesus is looking for people who understand Him, people who have had similar experiences, so that they can identify with Him, saying, "Yes, I understand; I have been there as well." These are His friends, and these are the ones with whom He shares His heart. Others will see His acts, but He shows His ways to His friends (Psalm 103:7). In other words, many see what He does, but only a few understand His purpose in doing what He does.
This morning my Father said to write something on Forgiveness today. Somebody needs this out there. You have been falsely accused, and it hurts quite badly, especially when it comes from a friend or from someone that you respect. You have been given a divine opportunity to increase your love by the power of forgiveness. Love cannot grow without its little brother, Forgiveness.
Know this also, that every opportunity to forgive is a calling to be an intercessor. Intercession is not merely prayer with increased volume and accompanied by sweat. Intercession is the process of extending forgiveness to those who are judged by the law for such things as false accusation. The seed must die before it can bring forth a harvest. You are the seed of the Word being sown, for you are a member of His Body. But only in this way can you also be the Bread of Life to feed the multitudes as Jesus did and thereby bring a harvest of sons and daughters into His Kingdom.
Dr. Stephen Jones