“12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
In the last post, we worked with what “clothes” to wear as we live our lives in Jesus. Today we look at the 2nd item – verse 13 “ 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Most of our Christian teaching on Forgiveness begins and ends in Matthew 6:14-15, 14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” The verse in Colossians is not generally even known.
There is a conflict between the two. In the Matthew passage, the Lord makes it clear that people who want to be forgiven must forgive others first. In the Colossians passage, the instruction is to forgive in direct reference to the Lord’s forgiving you – already. So what are we to do?
The Word when rightly divided and in context, never contradicts itself. Such contradictions arise when the division of the Covenants are not clearly understood. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were all written about a time before the New Covenant was put into place. Jesus was, many times, teaching the true meaning of the Law, and since He lived in the flesh under the Law period and He was fulfilling and teaching the Law without all the traditions of Judaism that had been honored – He was trying to get them to see the purity and the requirements of that Law.
Colossians was probably written toward the end of Paul’s first Roman imprisonment – somewhere around 62 AD. So this was in the first 100 years after the Lord’s death, resurrection and the day of Pentecost. So the understanding of the New Covenant has been taught by Paul, and the other apostles as well) for a good 50 years. There is no need to interject within this passage a teaching on forgiveness based on the Law. Instead, since the Lord saves us to the “uttermost” the instant, we say “yes” – we are entirely forgiven even before we know to forgive.
In the New Covenant, everything is a gift, and everything is based on the work of Christ. Our living out the life of Christ within this gift of salvation does not merit anything – for everything has already been granted. (Oh how the Lord longs for us to understand this). We have entered into the possibilities of an intimate relationship in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit where we learn to access all He his provided in the word Salvation.
So being entirely and wonderfully forgiven, we then are empowered to allow that forgiveness to flow. In the Old Covenant, it had to originate with us for that flow to exist. Now, in the New Covenant, all has wholly originated in the Lord. He has produced the flood of forgiveness and tells us here to participate by forgiving as He forgave us – freely and as a gift.
I have written a booklet called, “Do Yourselves a Favor, Forgive” and you may read a PDF version of that booklet here. Just go to the “Writings” tab above and then click on that title. It will explain this concept more fully.
Next Post: The Freedom of Forgiveness!
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.