Forgiveness was central to Jesus’ mission and message.
It comes as no surprise, then, that He included forgiveness in the prayer He taught us.
We begin by seeking and receiving forgiveness and then, in turn, extend forgiveness to others.
The order matters.
We can’t give what we don’t have.
We’ll talk about extending forgiveness later, but we must start with receiving forgiveness.
Theologians speak of two types of forgiveness.
Positional forgiveness is the forgiveness we receive when we trust in the death of Jesus to cover our sin. In other words, our sin no longer keeps us in a position of separation from God.
Our status before God has changed from enemy to child, from hopeless to assured, from condemned to forgiven.
If you’ve never experienced positional forgiveness before God, that is where you start. We can’t move onto the second type of forgiveness until we’ve settled this one.
Relational forgiveness is the forgiveness God extends in the context of your relationship with Him.
The Bible tells us that when we received positional forgiveness, we were adopted as children of God. We can call Him Father.
I have often failed my earthly father. I have often hurt him with my words and with my actions. I have often had to seek his forgiveness.
Despite those failures, I never stopped being his child. My position before him hadn’t changed.
The forgiveness I seek, then, is relational forgiveness. I don’t seek forgiveness because I’m no longer his child. I seek forgiveness because I am his child. I don’t want there to be any barriers to the closeness of our relationship.
It’s the same with God.
If you’re a Christian, God calls you to seek His forgiveness – not because your position before Him has changed. You seek forgiveness not because you are no longer His child, but because you are His child.
He doesn’t want there to be any barriers to the closeness of your relationship.
If you’ve never received God’s positional forgiveness, what is holding you back? Don’t wait. Don’t put it off. He is there, holding it out, extending the offer. Take it.
If you’re already a Christian, are you in the habit of confessing your sin to God and seeking His forgiveness? Are there any barriers getting in the way of the closeness of your relationship? Don’t let there be.
Wherever you are, there is good news. God is ready and willing to forgive all those who come to Him.