The Freedom of Forgiveness, Part 1
Dr. Michael Barry has written a book on the relationship between forgiveness and cancer. His findings are based upon credible research and have been proven to be helpful to his patients and others. His conclusion is this:
The stress of unforgiveness negatively affects the immune system. Forgiveness, on the other hand, has an immediate wholesome effect and long-term benefit in strengthening the immune system and positively affecting the healing process.
Forgiveness is offered freely to all of us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I John 1:9 promises us that if we “confess our sins, He [God] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
In his book, The Fourth Dimension, Dr. Paul Yonggi Cho shares a story of a young lady who visited his office. When she entered she would not sit down to talk with Pastor Cho, but rather chose to talk with him facing the wall in a shaded corner of his office. He was confused by her behavior and then asked why she would not talk to him face-to-face.
Her answer represents so many people - she was ashamed of her life. She had lived in immoral relationships and had wasted years by making bad decisions. She was convinced that her life was too soiled for God to desire a relationship with her.
Dr. Cho then proceeded to describe biblical forgiveness. He asked her to close her eyes and imagine she was at a lake throwing stones in the water. He asked her to mentally pick up a large stone and throw it into the water. Then he asked her to pick up a small stone and again, throw it into the water.
Then Dr. Cho asked her, “Where are both rocks?”
Her answer was obvious, “On the bottom of the lake.”
“What was the difference between the two rocks you threw into the lake?” he asked.
Her response was, “The size of the ripple in the water.”
Then Dr. Cho explained that Jesus Christ died for big sins and small sins. Both are at the bottom. The ripple of consequences is the only difference between large and small sins.
Our natural instincts push us to perform for God. We try to please God through behavioral change or comparing ourselves with others. However, God does not grade on a curve.
Romans 3:23 puts all of mankind on the same playing field:
All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
Romans 6:23 further explains the consequences of sin as being death, physically and spiritually.
Why does the Bible teach us about our own sinfulness?
The answer is that we all need grace. Grace is getting something we don’t deserve. Trying to get to heaven on our good works is like trying to mop a dirt floor. The more we mop the dirtier it gets.
Christ came not only to forgive us of our sin nature, but also to change our nature so we could live a life of forgiveness for ourselves and others.
If you identify with this young lady in Dr. Cho’s office, then I encourage you to receive God’s grace by receiving Jesus Christ into your life as your personal Lord and savior. The lady in Dr. Cho’s office made that decision and her life changed from being laden by guilt to one of freedom through forgiveness.