This post was originally published in May 2018. –ed.
True reconciliation requires God’s forgiveness; it can occur only if the offended party is willing to forgive and remove the barrier sin creates. The sinner cannot remove that barrier, and so cannot reconcile himself to God. Only the Lord can effect reconciliation by choosing not to count our trespasses against us.
The apostle Paul highlights this divine aspect of reconciliation in 2 Corinthians 5:19—“God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them.”
That glorious truth reverberates throughout Scripture. Psalm 32:2 says, “How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity.” Paul echoes that sentiment in Romans 4:8, “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.” Micah 7:18 looked ahead to God’s glorious forgiveness with these words: “Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession?” This is the message we bring to the world—that God, through Christ, can completely forgive their sins forever.
We might be tempted to think that apologetics is the great weapon of the church against the demonic philosophies and ideologies of the world. But sometimes—perhaps often—the work of the gospel is not an intellectual battle over truth and error. Ultimately, the most powerful thing we can say to a sinner is, “God will forgive all your sins forever and welcome you into His presence.” That is the good news. If people are not interested in that, intellectual arguments won’t convince them. There has to be a sense of desperation and fear over their own sin before they’ll accept God’s word of reconciliation. Under the guilt and anxiety of sin, there simply is no greater message than the truth about God’s power to forgive sins.
Contrast that message with the world’s shoddy substitute for forgiveness. Between humans, forgiveness is more like a temporary truce than true reconciliation. It often comes with an eye roll or through gritted teeth. Both sides agree to a kind of peace, but the offense is never truly forgiven or forgotten. People tend to carry around past wrongs like bullets—they’re always chambered and ready to fire when there’s the slightest hint of another offense.
We can rejoice that God doesn’t forgive like that. For those of us in Christ, He will never recall our previous failures or past sinful patterns. He’s not keeping score. God doesn’t just ignore our past offenses—He obliterates them. He forgives perfectly, completely, and eternally. That’s what it means to be reconciled to Him—He has dealt with our sins once and for all. Through His gracious forgiveness, our sins are gone for good.
(Adapted from Good News)