Grace and Forgiveness
By: Dr. Johnny Moffitt
“I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.”
1 John 2:12New International Version (NIV)
I have been going to prisons around the world for over forty years. Many times I have heard one of these people who have committed terrible crimes, say, “I don’t think I’ve been able to forgive myself because part of me doesn’t believe that I deserve to be forgiven.”
I wish this was an isolated comment, lifted from a single conversation, but I have heard the same confession from hundreds of prisoners and non-prisoners alike, all over the world. If forgiveness were offered only to those who deserve it, we would all be doomed. Every one of us.
Here’s one verse we often use as a hickory switch, thrashing ourselves whenever we stumble:
“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”
Romans 3:23 New International Version (NIV)
And that’s true, we have sinned. We’ve already embraced that reality. We know we fall short of perfection. Way short. But notice something interesting about that familiar verse: it ends with a comma. Meaning sin is not the whole story. Check out the rest of the sentence:
“…and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
Romans 3:24 New International Version (NIV)
We are not to stop at sin, then; we are to move on to grace. Freely. No payment on our part is required, because the cost has already been paid in full, and we’ve been redeemed. We have done nothing to deserve this free gift. We simply hold out our hands and say, “Thank you.”
That is grace! A gift. With a tag that reads, “For you.”
How often have we fixed on the “sin: and forgotten the “grace”. No wonder we find it so hard to forgive ourselves. We’re thinking punishment. God is thinking Christmas.
It is hard to receive a gift we feel we do not deserve. But forgiveness is not that kind of gift. It flows in one direction: from God to you. And you are worthy---not because you think so, but because God deems it so.
Your heavenly Father is holding out the gift of grace and forgiveness, purchased by his Son’s blood. No gift has ever cost more. Receive it and forgive yourself.