“But aren’t we supposed to forgive, forget, and move on?”
In Part 1 of this series on Forgiveness, I outlined how we have arrived at such a fractured and unbiblical view of what forgiveness is and is not.
In Part 2, I want to discuss the foundational aspect of forgiveness. The first of the three types of forgiveness in the human experience is JUDICIAL FORGIVENESS.
(Special thanks to Dr. Steven R. Tracy for his helpful paradigm in Mending the Soul: Understanding and Healing Abuse.)
Judicial forgiveness is the forgiveness that only God can supply. This is the forgiveness that is available to all who will surrender their heart and life to Jesus Christ, accepting His sacrifice on the Cross as the substitutionary atoning sacrifice for their own sin and sinfulness.
This category of forgiveness is God’s alone – His alone to supply, to govern, to manage.
How do we receive this kind of forgiveness? 1 John 1:9 gives us a starting place:
“If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
We go personally to God in confession and repentance of our own sin and no one else’s. Through that and our faith in Christ’s atoning sacrifice, God (as the Supreme and Righteous Judge) grants us “Judicial Forgiveness”. Everyone has to go to God on their own to receive that type of forgiveness. No one is exempt. We will never be able to be forgiven for the sins of other people. (Thinking that we do is part of what causes toxic shame.)
Judicial Forgiveness precedes our Relational Forgiveness with God and requires two things on our part: authentic Confession and true Repentance (1 John 1:9).
Confess: The word translated “confess” in 1 John 1:9 is a judicial term which means “to be in agreement on the exact nature and character of our wrong”. In our judicial system today there is a similar term used: “allocute”; which means “to speak out formally”.
Repent: Repentance is more than a “change of mind”; it is a change of heart and direction. Ephesians 4:28 gives us one of the best examples in Scripture of the “put off/put” on characteristics of authentic repentance:
“The one who steals must steal no longer; rather he must labor, doing good with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with the one who has need.”
Not only does the offender cease from doing bad, he replaces the unrighteous behavior with the opposite righteous behavior – over time – and does so for the good of another (heart change).
Confession and repentance require a conviction that what we have done has violated God’s moral code; authentic confession and repentance do not come because we simply wish to avoid consequences.
It is NOT a matter of “I’m sorry,” but of, “I have committed this wrong and this is the evil that has resulted. I purpose in my heart to not only dedicate myself to not committing this sin again, but to setting in place whatever I must to never wrong you again in this manner.”
Next time we will discuss INTERNAL FORGIVENESS, the type of forgiveness that comes from our own hearts and is rooted in the JUDICIAL FORGIVENESS we have received from God.
Soli Deo Gloria
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