Friday, February 16, 2018

February 16: Mark 2:1-12; Who Can Forgive Sins?

            I hear a lot of people today saying that they had to learn to forgive themselves before they could forgive others. There’s even a popular song out on Christian Radio that talks about this.[1] Or, they say that before they can get over the guilt of their sins they need to forgive themselves. I don’t think they have ever read or perhaps understood what happened when four men brought a paralytic to Jesus for healing. He was in a house in Capernaum teaching people. It was so crowded that they couldn’t get in the door, so they made a hole in the roof and lowered the man down in front of Jesus. Jesus made the astounding remark, “My son, your sins are forgiven” (Mark 2:5). He didn’t say, “My son, if you would just forgive yourself, you won’t feel guilty about your sins.” Jesus forgave his sins.
            The scribes who were there knew the word of God. They studied it and were quite smart when it came to knowing about God. They were aghast that Jesus would have the audacity to tell someone that their sins were forgiven because they knew that only God can forgive sins (Mark 2:7). They labeled Jesus a blasphemer for what he said. Jesus didn’t say they were wrong for thinking that only God can forgive sins, but he wanted them to know that he was claiming to be God. He did that by telling them he had the authority to forgive sins and he proved it by healing the paralytic.
            Why is it only God who can forgive sins? The answer is a fundamental point about sin. All sin, no matter how grievous or seemingly insignificant, is against God. Sins are against people who God made in his image or against other things in his creation. They are all God’s, so any harm done to them is a sin against the Creator. Even if a sin is against yourself, it is still a sin against God. David emphasized the importance of recognizing sin is first and foremost against God when his sin against Bathsheba and her husband was revealed. He said, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (Ps 51:4).
            If a person can’t seem to get over the guilt of his sin, the regrets of the past, or can’t seem to forgive others, then the problem isn’t that they need to forgive themselves, it is that they haven’t truly accepted that their sin is against God. There isn’t anything a person can do to forgive themselves because there isn’t anything that a person can do to pay the price to God for their sins (Ps 49:7-9). Someone who thinks he can or needs to forgive himself is actually putting himself in the position of God. No wonder they can’t get over the guilt or move on in a relationship with someone who has sinned against them. They don’t need a miracle or a revelation as the song says.[2] What they need is not a revelation but a better understanding of God’s word.
            When it comes to forgiving others, a person can only do that when he recognizes that God has forgiven him through Jesus Christ. If he doesn’t recognize Jesus as God and trust in his salvation and forgiveness, then he will have a problem forgiving others. If he is truly a Christian but just doesn’t understand, then he will have a problem forgiving others until he does understand and do as God tells us. We are to forgive as God has forgiven us in Jesus (Eph 4:32).

[1] We Are Messengers, "Point to You," in We Are Messengers, Seth Mosley & Mike "X" O'Connor , 2015, CD.
[2] Ibid.

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