We are forgiven. In the original language, the word means “to release.” Before Jesus died, before we gave him our allegiance, God held onto our sins. They were counted. They were weighed. They were assessed. They were evaluated. God knew more about our sins than we did.
Then, Jesus died. Punishment for all sins fell on him. And then, we gave him our allegiance.
We had lived in the kingdom of the enemy. We lived for his interests. Jesus sent a rescue mission. He delivered us from the enemy’s kingdom. He gave us membership in his kingdom and family. And – the point of this post – he released us from our sins.
When I think about releasing, I get this mental picture of an event – the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the World Cup final – where organizers have thousands of doves or pigeons in cages at the event. At the right time, all of the cages are opened, the birds are released, and they fly away.
Did you ever wonder, how are they going to get all those birds back into the cages?
As far as God is concerned, that’s the point. The birds are never going back into their cages. They are gone. No one will worry about them anymore. No one will feed them. No one will need to clean the cages.
There is a passage of Scripture where it says the all-knowing, all-seeing God does not remember our sin. Our Father has so released our sin, it is gone from his memory. In his current dealing with us, it is not a factor. He does not deal with us according to our failures. He deals with us according to our lack.
God’s sovereignty, holiness and authority gives God the perfect right to punish our sin. Forgiveness means God has released any claims to exercise this right.
First, I need to approach God on the basis of this releasing. If I treat my sin as if God has not released it, then I approach God with fear. Maybe I could be punished again. Maybe I am living in disfavor. And I become more focused on how I am living. And my living cannot affect my acceptance by God. I cannot earn forgiveness. I cannot earn right standing. And if God has released my sin, and his right to punish my sin – in Christ, on the cross – then I cannot by my sin get the “pigeons” back in the cage.
By no means, does this mean that God takes how I live, how I conduct myself lightly. But he does not approach me through my failures. He approaches me to rebuild me life, my character, to live as I was designed to live.
If I am free of fear, I am free to love, to serve, to pray, to act by faith.
Second, I need to approach people and their failures as God approaches me. I need to open the “cage doors” and release their sins. I need to release my rights to demand punishment. This does not mean I take their actions lightly. But God does not deal with me with a view toward punishment. Rather he deals with me seeking redemption, transformation and reconciliation. This is what the focus and intent of my heart needs to be.
Sometimes God allows the consequences of actions to occur, so people will realize they do not live in agreement with God’s design. So, people will turn from trying to fill their lives with false fuels. We may find ourselves in the same position. It breaks God’s heart to see people like this. It should break our hearts too.