Monday, August 3, 2009

"As Christ Forgave"

"As Christ forgave you, so also do ye" (Colossians 3:13).

No command of the New Testament more reveals our need for the enabling power of God than our calling to forgive others as the Lord Jesus Christ forgave us.

"Without Me, ye can do nothing" (John 15:5).

When a born again Christian believer feels that he cannot forgive an offender, he reveals a deeper truth about himself. He is looking to his earthly humanity for the willingness and strength to bestow mercy rather than to the Spirit of God. Such misdirected focus always assures failure because, according to the Apostle Paul, "in my flesh dwelleth no good thing" (Romans 7:18). We possess no inherent human capacity for any fulfillment of the will of God, a truth that particularly hits home as we seek to forgive as did the Lord Jesus. Vengeance rather than mercy is the way of the flesh, and the holy path of forgiveness commands that we talk our shoes off because we cannot in and of ourselves walk in this blessed way.

We can, however, through the presence and power of the Spirit of Christ, who "worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). The calling to forgive is the calling to trust God, as is every command of Scripture. The acknowledgment of our native weakness prepares us to affirm His native power, and amazingly, to confess with Paul, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Philippians 2:13). "I cannot!... I can, through Christ!" - this is the dynamic transaction of trust whereby we are governed not by the inability of our flesh, but by the power of the Holy Spirit. Again, no challenge will more reveal our need for such acknowledgment than the matter of forgiveness, and perhaps in your experience and mine just now, the calling rings within our hearts.

Even more rings the assurance. If we have believed, our quickened spirits have become the scene of the presence and dynamic working of the Spirit of the forgiving Lord Jesus. "I am thy God, I will strengthen thee" (Isaiah 41:10). Our Lord is with us and within us to reveal the same literal delight for mercy that rules His blessed heart (Micah 7:18; Romans 7:22). The first step of forgiveness is to believe this blessed Gospel truth, and then to be amazed as we find ourselves bestowing mercy rather than vengeance by an enabling power that we know beyond a shadow of a doubt is not of ourselves.

"Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."
(Ephesians 3:20)

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