"The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient with you, not wishing for anyone to perish but for all to come to repentance."
Now, as you continue to read, keep that verse in mind, especially this part, "but He is patient with you, not wishing for anyone to perish but for all to come to repentance".
I've been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately. Especially in light of verses such as Mark 11:25, Matt. 6:14-15 and Matt. 18:35. It's a very weighty topic, don't you think? I mean, if we harbor un-forgiveness in our hearts, God will not forgive us! I don't know about you, but that gives me pause. And the topic takes on a whole new weight for me.
In light of this, through the years I've given careful consideration to what forgiveness is and what it isn't. And I think I do a pretty good job of examining my heart. But there's always this niggling question, "Am I a forgiving person?" But one thing I think is important for me to keep in mind in this whole "forgiveness" thing is the fact that I am not more benevolent than God.
Simply put, there are unrepentant people who walk the earth doing evil and loving it, and I don't forgive them.
WHAT!!!!! Did she just say that? Yes. I did. I said it because it's true.
First of all, their sin is not something I'm responsible for forgiving. I'm only responsible for forgiving those who sin against me. Second of all, God only forgives those who are in Christ. So for me to run around with a mini savior complex, offering forgiveness where God will not, is tantamount to me saying, "Hey, I know God doesn't forgive those who will not repent, but I will". Sorry, that's not my place either. Because I'm not more benevolent than God.
What I will say is this, I am not God, therefore I do not know who does and does not have their name written in the Lamb's book of Life. Because I do not know, I will continually take the Truth with me where ever I go, and I will teach and preach and sing about the gospel every chance I get, in hopes of people hearing that truth and repenting. I fear there's not a lot of time, you see, so I get right to it, because it's the most important decision a man can consider.
Imagine it like the frame of a door being hauled around on my person. Where ever I go, where ever I sit, when ever I gather with others, I have this doorway with me. As I sit, knowing I'm on the "inside", I can only share with you what that door is, and hope that you come in. I won't force you to come. And I won't belittle you if you don't. But I also won't make you feel like you're already on the inside with me, giving you false hope. I'll make sure you know that there is an inside and an outside, and the only way to be saved is to be on the inside. That "Door" is Jesus Christ.
"I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture."
I'm not like some who think they are being like Jesus when they treat the gathering of believers as though it were a leper colony. For some the current trend is to trade iN a church pew for a bar stool. But I think what is forgotten by people who claim that Jesus prefered the company of sinners, rather than the religious, is that no matter who Jesus ate with, reclined with, walked with or laughed with, He was ALWAYS with sinners, because everyone, religious or not, who walked the earth with Jesus was a sinner. And He never condoned sin, even though He was gentle with the prostitute when she washed His feet with her tears. The point of her tears was that she was repentant. There was always the call for them to forsake the sinful life He was reaching into. Never was tacit approval given, to those who lived in sin. "Come, follow Me", was His call. It concerns me that so many have taken the words "love" and "forgiveness" and turned them into tacit approval by God to keep holding onto sinful life styles, rather than forsaking them.
Jude 1:4 says,
"For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ."
This topic is very worthy of our full consideration. In the verse above it talks about people who "were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation". Now, keeping in mind the very first verse that I prefaced this post with, that God is patient, not wishing for anyone to perish but for all to come to repentance, I encourage you to understand that in spite of God's patience, He is aware of the fact that there are some who simply will not repent, and their condemnation has been written about long ago. They are those who turn the grace of God into a license for immorality. They say things like, "Oh yeah, me and the Big Guy upstairs have an understanding", or "It's all about love! I don't judge anyone so they shoudn't judge me", but that message is one of bondage. Rather than leaving their lives of sin, they make the sinful life an acceptable practice and they insist no one should question or condemn it, and those who speak against it are seen as being judgemental.
That's a very sad thing to me. And when I consider the people I know who have embraced rebellion toward God, and flat out refused to surrender to Him, or when I think of those who say "yes" with their lips but refuse to yield their lives, I am broken hearted. And I find myself CLINGING to the part of the verse that says, "He is patient with you", because I desperately long for your salvation.
But one thing I can not do is forgive you for Him. That doesn't mean that I condemn you. That doesn't mean that I wish ill upon you. It simply means that it is not my place to forgive you. The sins you commit are not sins against me, they are sins against a Holy God. And when you continue to walk in your sin, I will not be there to "love" you into the kingdom when you face judgment. The one you need is Jesus, the one who can wash away your sin forever. I know from reading scripture that Jesus did not "look the other way" when someone He was with was sinning. To paint a picture of that jesus is to paint a picture of a false god.
Jesus, the Son of God was not given over to passive acceptance of sin what so ever. He said, "Be holy as I am holy" and He expected it to be done. Keep in mind that as I've posted before (READ HERE), holiness is a gift only given to those who surrender to Christ. It is found in Him, and living in accordance with holiness is an act of sanctification. Jesus prayed for this, for those who believe in Him.
But there is this push in many Christian circles to be like a Jesus I don't know. The push is for Christians to blur the line between God's children and the lost...in order to save them. The equation of "love" with acceptance of a sinful lifestyle is something I don't see in scripture. The equation of "forgiveness" with tolerance, even going so far as to affirm someone in their choices is also something I do not see. Simply put, if God has condemned sin in sinful man, who am I to undo that? That's my point. I am no one to change what God has said. I simply am not more benevolent than God.
If God's love for us took on the act of His wrath for sin being poured out upon Jesus while He hung on a cross, then I am no one to diminish or taint that picture. It's perfect just as it is.
God hates sin. God will not forgive anyone who refuses Jesus' call to repent and "come out from among them and be separate" (2 Corinthians 6:17). And if God won't forgive you, who am I to mislead you that way?
Instead, what I will do is keep pointing you back to the truth. That God is indeed patient with you, but He will not be mocked. You don't know the day of your death, but He does. Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart. Call upon Him and repent. Turn away from your sinful life completely. Don't think that just because some join in with you in your choice of entertainment, that He is not angry with your sin. He's not ok with your life, even if they seem to be. He is restraining His judgement while He waits for you to call upon Him and repent. Do not be a fool and assume that God will look the other way as they do. In the end, it is God you will face.