Why We Don't Have To Die When We Forgive

In Is Death an Appropriate Punishment for Sin? we talked about why death is a necessary and unavoidable consequence of sin. We also talk about how the Bible teaches that not only do we sin against God, but we also sin against our fellow human beings. And in Forgiving Sins Requires Someone to Die we talked about why Jesus had to go to the cross. How it's necessary for someone to die in order to forgive sins. But then, we forgive many of the sins that people commit against us and we never have to die or cause someone else to die. So, what gives? Why is it the case that God has to die when He forgives but we don't? Are we more powerful than God?


Or are we just more privileged?


When we forgive we do end up transferring the debt from our debtor back to ourselves. We suffer being wronged (1Co 6:7). But that's not the whole story. We have the privilege of not being the ultimate reality. We have the "privilege" of not being utterly holy and righteous. So, when our fellow humans sin against us it does not ultimately entail a complete separation. We are not the God of Life, so when our relationships are damaged to the point of separation, though the relationship might be dead, it is not necessary for the offender nor the victim to die. Neither physically nor spiritually.


There's also the fact that when we sin against our fellow humans we are really sinning against God. As David realized after his sin regarding Bathsheba and Uriah:


"Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment." - Psa 51:4

This idea is also part of Jesus' parable that we have been looking into. Jesus' sacrificial death doesn't just cover sins committed specifically against God. Jesus' sacrifice covers all sins. The sins against God and those against other humans.


"He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world." - 1Jo 2:2

So, once again, God takes the death that is caused by sin onto Himself out of love for His creation (Jhn 3:16). God takes the debt of the whole world and in return provides love in the form of grace and mercy to cover the sin against Him and reward the forgiveness of humans toward their fellow humans. Through our love, often being manifested in the form of forgiveness, the Christian has evidence of having escaped the land of the dead.

"We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death." - 1Jo 3:14

We don't have to die because the God of Life took that death for us and overcame it. We don't have to die because we are privileged and don't even recognize it. We forgive because that is how we ought to love after having been taught how to love. We forgive and continue to live because God loves mercy, grace and righteousness (Exd 34:6-7) and rewards those who do those things with comfort, life and love. We show mercy because who is a repentant person drawn to?


"The expert in the law replied, 'The one who had mercy on him.' Jesus told him, 'Go and do likewise.'" - Luk 10:37
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