Many seem to think that God was unable to forgive us until the murder of Jesus. Indeed, this is how many understand words like “holiness,” “righteousness,” and “justice” that we find in the scriptures – that forgiveness requires blood. They might be thinking of Hebrews 9:22 – “Indeed, under the Law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”
Notice, however, that this holds only “under the Law.” Consider also that God has never been under the Law.
If we say God couldn’t forgive people until Jesus paid for their sins with blood, we limit him by something outside himself. If we say he could but didn’t, he’s less forgiving than he has commanded us to be.
Jesus opposed the prevailing understanding of limited forgiveness and taught to forgive always, no strings attached (Matthew 18:21-22). This is in contrast to the Law, which taught punishment and revenge, “an eye for an eye.” If God had to punish before being able to forgive, he would be the worst at forgiving. Further, if God will remain eternally unforgiving of people, as some christians believe, then perhaps he is the most unforgiving of all! Some people are concerned for the people who will remain eternally unforgiven, but since unforgiveness hurts most the one who is unforgiving, I would be concerned about the well-being of such an unforgiving God!
Perhaps the christian conception of redemption is confused.
I propose that God is not in the forgiveness business.
Forgiveness is good, but there is something better than forgiveness, and that is choosing to never be offended in the first place.
The reason the scriptures use the language of “forgiveness” so often is not because God was offended by us and then forgave us, but because that was the paradigm of God held by people during that time (especially the Jews with their elaborate sacrificial system). It was a tool to help people understand that God’s not angry and in fact is in a very good mood.
I encourage you to quit forgiving.
More precisely, I encourage you to stop holding things against people so that the need to forgive disappears completely.
Unforgiveness is choosing to entertain thoughts about a wrongdoing someone has done against you. The moment you decide that someone else’s action has created a need for you to forgive them, you have created unforgiveness inside yourself. Again, unforgiveness, even having something that you can forgive, hurts you the most.
Of course, if you are harboring unforgiveness toward someone, forgive! But we would do well to follow God’s example and remember people’s sin no more (Hebrews 8:12).
No more sin remembering -> no more unforgiveness -> no more forgiving necessary
Does Forgiveness Require Blood?