Four posts ago, I said some stuff about the power of Christ's forgiveness, promising to go somewhere with that, so given that I'd prefer to be a man who follows through when he speaks, let's begin. :) I'm sure I've touched on the topic before, but I've never really delved into it much. Well, I guess it reflects upon how much I think about it on the day-to-day. It's not like I can really ever forget forgiveness. My biggest issue is probably the active clinging to it.
If you ever have the chance or interest, read Romans 6. Matter of fact, read the entire letter. It's basically all about the concept of forgiveness and how it ties in through the ages. Paul goes as far back as showing how forgiveness was promised both to Israel and to the Gentiles. He also breaks down the interaction between sin, the law, and grace (which we can call "forgiveness" for the purposes of this post).
- CHAPTER 1: the fall of man to his own lusts
- CHAPTER 2: believers who judge each other for their failures, and the introduction of law
- CHAPTER 3: the introduction of righteousness through faith
- CHAPTER 4: the example of Abraham's righteousness through faith
- CHAPTER 5: peace, and new life through Christ opposing death through Adam
- CHAPTER 6: the beginning of the grace-versus-sin conflict
I'll stop there because that's where the problems start to come, where Paul begins challenging the Romans through their way of thinking. He begins to give a clear description of how exactly it is that grace works, what that means for sin, and goes on about it for several chapters.
Before I end this post, though, let me set the stage for the next one. So far, Paul has reiterated to the Romans what they already knew about the fall of man to sin, using that to call out some people that the Romans were dealing with at the time, people who were being judgmental about the same sins they themselves were committing (probably not the whole of the community, but anyway). It's from there that he shows them what to do about it. He goes through the way that the law was introduced with the intent of it being for the heart, but explains how we tend to think of it as something we hide behind, using it as a shell to hide our evil nature behind, and that this nature is universal. We have all been corrupted by selfish ambitions. Through faith, though, we are drawn back to Him. It's nothing to gloat about because it doesn't automatically make us righteous, but it counts for something in God's eyes. Faith is the thing that keeps us hanging onto Him. Paul explains how Abraham was given a chance demonstrate it by offering his son, the one God promised. His faith that God would not make him give up his son, and his faithfulness to come to the brink of the offering, prepared to do whatever God asked, was counted as righteousness, and God sent an angel to stop the sacrifice before it was completed -- I'm sure Abraham was grateful. It's by this same sort of faith that the power of sin and death is broken in us, as though Jesus' death on the cross and resurrection rippled forward through time to break them.
Sounds great, right?
Simple enough, right?
But it can be hard to wrap one's head around it -- I really mean it can be hard for me to wrap my head around it, especially given the fact that I am human, just like every other human, and I sin and have my issues just as every other human. Sometimes, we can fall short in our understanding, and sometimes, we can try to take advantage of grace in a bad way, not that this is possible, but that isn't really the point. There are so many facets to grace that we often fall short of understanding, accepting, and giving, I think that's what Paul might have been getting at when he spoke with the Romans, and maybe that's what God is trying to impress on me all these centuries later.
But that was just the first less-than-half of the letter. There's so much more to it. I'm getting to it, but I'm gonna break this up into several blog posts, so if you're interested, stay tuned. I think it's pretty cool, and worth the read -- Romans, I mean. :P