Do We Need Forgiveness?

I’m not the first to ask what seems like a foolish question, but when it comes to the Christian gospel the answer isn’t so simple. If you’re troubled by open-ended questions or wrinkles in the fabric of faith, it’s best not to read on.

(Spoiler alert: There are no answers at the end of this post.)

Duly warned.

To forgive means, “to grant pardon for an offense or debt; to absolve or free from guilt.”

If I owe a million dollars and I pay the debt—or someone pays it for me—I don’t need forgiveness. My debt is paid. Likewise, if I’m convicted of a crime and I serve my entire sentence—or someone serves it for me—I don’t need a pardon. The claims of justice have been met and there’s nothing to forgive. Only if I can’t pay the debt or do the time is forgiveness an option.

You don’t forgive someone by paying their debt; you forgive when the debt remains outstanding.

If Jesus paid the debt for sin, what’s there for God to forgive?

If God forgives us, why did Jesus have to die?



5 thoughts on “Do We Need Forgiveness?

  1. I believe that when the Bible uses the word “forgiveness,” it means it the way that the dictionary defines it, so I agree with this post’s premise. However, I believe the word is being used metaphorically. When you wrong someone, it is as though you’ve incurred a debt. Forgiveness is the free release of that debt, or some part of it.

    God is not temporal, but we are. So, from our perspective, it appears that there was a time before Jesus died on the cross, and a time after. Of course, I don’t know what that looks like from God’s perspective, but I suspect that it’s unlike ours. I suspect that God’s experience of time is not linear. So, for instance, perhaps the fact of Jesus’ death on the cross is relevant, but the “when” is not, while at the same time, whatever made Jesus’ death necessary is also relevant, but the “when” is not. So, from our perspective, that would make it appear as though we both need forgiveness and have been forgiven, simultaneously. But if you try to imagine an existence where time is not linear, perhaps our debt and Jesus’ payment of it are more like two weights on either side of a scale: both need to be true at the same time.

    It’s a paradox, but I strongly believe that most often, the purest forms of truth can be expressed only in paradox.

  2. The dictionary meaning of the word “Forgiveness” was taken and a discourse was carried out. This is not fair. All of us know what is meant by forgiveness. Actually, I am first time hearing from you the idea of wrting off a debt as forgiveness. Forgiveness has very little to do about debts in real life. It is more of pardoning somebody’s crime or offense against a person. And this should be done whole heartedly. That is, IMHO, the meaning of forgiveness. Forget and forgive the offense by thought, word and deed.
    This idea is diametrically opposite to the ancient idea of an eye for an eye and a teeth for a teeth. As Gandhiji remarked, if we practice this, all people in the world will become blind ! And some thinker has remarked, keeping a grudge in mind is like drinking poison with the idea that this will result in the death of the enemy.
    As for God’s forgiveness, the testimony of near death experiencers is acceptable to me. In the book, proof of heaven by the renowned neurosurgeon, Dr.Eben Alexander, he had described his interaction with God, Whom he experienced as love-light-compassion, God is not judgemental. He never punishes anybody. It is our silly idea that God is keeping track of all our actions and putting positive or negetive marks on that. As if He is an school teacher of olden days 🙂

  3. How about we all worry about our own actions. (do the best you can, in love) In my mind it’s foolish to concern ourselves with questions that can’t and never will be answered, in this life. If we can go through our lives with no expectations we would be very content on almost all levels. That comes from Buddah.

  4. I’ve been wrestling with this very question this past year. My conclusions are that God is pure love and has already forgave us. We have this human nature that has a tendency to judge and therefore in need to forgive others and be forgiven (mainly forgive our own self). Jesus was needed to reintroduce our connectivity to God and demonstrate how it is done. Thus, the Lord’s prayer and the many references related to forgiveness. In short, we need the act/process of forgiveness to liberate us from blocking our relationship with God. ( I could go and on) Blessings and I encourage all to try to resist the judgment of others.

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