November 12

Hebrews 9

There is a term we use for people who go to prison. They have committed a crime and now they need to “pay their debt to society.” In other words, there is a punishment for breaking the law and harming a part of the community. In that place, they live as someone bound, not free. They can be released from prison once the debt, or punishment, is made. The only way someone can be released early is if he or she is pardoned, or forgiven of their debt.

Let’s say that someone didn’t necessarily break the law, but let’s say they wronged someone. They ask for forgiveness, but the other person says, “You owe me?” This phrase is typically used to mean that if the person ever needs anything from them in the future, the guilty party is bound to pay it off with a favor.

Verse 22 says, “Without shedding of blood there is no remission.” The Greek word for remission is aphesis. It comes from aphiemi, meaning, “to send away.” The word signifies a release from a prison where a debt is being paid off, freeing a person, cancelling their debt, or punishment.

This Greek word also means “to forgive.” What does it actually mean to forgive someone? It means we are releasing them from punishment, pardoning them from their wrongdoing. We grant them freedom, and they don’t owe us anything anymore. We aren’t going to “make them pay” for what they did, controlling that person’s behavior through threats of future punishment. There is no fear in love, because fear involves punishment (1 John 4:18). We aren’t going to hold it over their head through guilt, repeatedly mentioning their past wrong to keep them bound or under our manipulation. Forgiveness doesn’t try to define a person based on past wrongs, categorizing or attaching names that attempt to hold a person to their shame. Forgiveness frees a person from fear, guilt, and shame. Forgiveness chooses not to recall a past wrong with attempt to keep a person attached to their past sin.

Forgiveness does not mean that the offense the other person committed was okay. It actually acknowledges that it wasn’t acceptable, yet we are releasing him or her from the offense. Forgiveness does not necessarily mean that trust has been reestablished or that a relationship is reconciled.

The debt that we owed, was a debt we could not pay. The only thing that could remit our sin was the blood of a sinless man, and no human being was without sin. Jesus made a tremendous
sacrifice by becoming one of us and taking our punishment of death. The shedding of his life’s blood is what purified our sin.

When we consider that Christ released us from our debt of sin by shedding His blood, we can understand that He expects us to forgive one another. If someone does not repent, holding onto to unforgiveness only hurts us Someone once said that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. True forgiveness is turning that person over to God. It is a choice to fully release a person from their wrongdoing, including any manipulation of shame, guilt, or fear. If release is not complete, the wrongdoer will never experience true and full reconciliation of relationship and there will be a wedge that causes a measure of distance in the relationship. Thankfully the forgiveness of Christ caused full reconciliation with God, complete freedom from punishment, guilt, shame, and fear!

Ezekiel 1-3

Ezekiel, a priest and prophet, was deported to Babylon during the captivity, and his ministry briefly overlapped Jeremiah’s. His message was addressed to a weakened remnant of Judah that was exiled in Babylon. The first three chapters are about the call of Ezekiel with a vision of the Lord. The rest of the book is divided up into three sections:

Judah’s judgment (chapters 4-24)
Heathen nations’ judgment (chapters 25-32)
Future blessings for God’s covenant people (chapters 33-48)

In this book we will see the requirement of individual repentance as well as God’s grace for restoration. Thank God for His amazing grace!

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