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February 06, 2011

Ep.645: Are All Sins Forgivable?

The role of mutual forgiveness vs. God’s forgiveness

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Theme Scripture: Matthew 6:14

Everybody sins, and anybody who cares about the fact that they sin asks for forgiveness. What does forgiveness mean? Is the way we forgive each other different than the way God and Jesus forgive? Are there sins that are NOT forgivable? What are they? How do we avoid them? What about being the person who SHOULD forgive, but perhaps does not want to forgive? Is forgiveness more of an emotional experience or more of an intellectual one? For such a common subject, forgiveness sure does evoke a lot of questions! Stay with us as we look into forgiveness, the Bible, our culture, and our experiences.

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October 18, 2021

Ep.1200: Could an Addiction Block My Christian Growth?

Learning to identify and manage compulsive and addictive behavior

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CHAPTERS

[00:15:31]
How can we recognize the difference between compulsive thoughts and addiction?


[00:32:43]
What's it like when you finally start to turn the corner to getting healthy?


[00:47:50]
How can we make overcoming an addiction a permanent change?


Theme Scripture: 1 Peter 5:6

Life can be difficult and unpredictable. It can be full of insecurity, unexpected disappointments, and events that press and overwhelm our coping skills. All of this can bring us to places that make us want to run from our reality. We instead engage in a pseudo-reality that makes us feel better - at least for the moment. Enter the pathway to potential addictive behavior. It often begins as a subtle escape, or a convenient distraction, or a thrilling experience. Destructive addictions always end in several layers of disaster. At the top of the addiction casualty list is our character, integrity, family, friends, work associates, and often our financial standing as well. What should we look for and do to avoid or remedy the destructiveness of addiction?

Continue Reading

Party City

Nobody sets out in life with the goal of becoming some kind of addict. At least, that's what our guest Merrily said about her own life. Merrily is a dedicated Christian woman who painfully worked through her own addictions to drugs and alcohol many years ago. In telling her story, she shared how the road towards addiction looked more like a road to excitement and acceptance. Even though this road seemed to be continually headed towards “Party City,” it was littered with warnings and caution signs. The problem is, when you are traveling so fast you don’t have time to think about those signs along the way.

A perceived need or desire

Just because we are Christians we cannot relax when it comes to awareness about and protection against these kinds of things. Addictions always begin with a perceived need or desire. They are fed by compulsive behavior, which in and of itself is not always a bad thing. A compulsion can be an irresistible urge and if those urges are to righteously act in the direct service of God, then let’s go! However, we all know that such an urge is much more the exception than the rule. The bottom line is that we need to be painfully aware of the direction our compulsions are pointing us towards.

As Christians, there is much we can do to identify and destroy addictive behavior. One simple and powerful key in this fight is perspective. We need to go through each action of each day remembering who we are and what we are called to. Being a disciple of Jesus is a whole mind, whole heart and whole body commitment. Anything and everything we focus our attention on must fit within that description.

Check out our October 18, 2021 podcast, “Could an Addiction Block My Christian Growth?” for more. We follow Merrily’s inspirational story of being trapped by addiction, falling, bottoming out and recovery. Several scriptural principles are laid out to help us whether we are heading into trouble, in trouble or broken. We learn about the power of accountability and the transformational properties of contentment. Addiction is a serious and sometimes deadly issue. Join us for a stark look at its nature and the relief that is found in recovery!

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September 24, 2021

Ep.: Who should we confess our sins to?

The concept of confession of sin to a priest is nowhere taught in either the Old or New Testaments. In fact, the New Testament teaches that all true believers are priests. 

1 Peter 2:9-10 describes believers as a “holy priesthood” and a “royal priesthood,” “a people belonging to God.” In the Old Covenant, the Jewish nation could only approach God through its priests who offered sacrifices to God for the forgiveness of sins of the entire nation of Israel. This practice is no longer necessary because of Jesus’ one time all-encompassing sacrifice, which fulfilled the Law, thus granting Christians direct access to God for forgiveness of individual sins through Jesus Christ. 

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

The New Testament teaches that the organization of Christ’s church would have elders, deacons (1 Timothy 3), overseers (Titus 1:6-9), and pastors (Ephesians 4:11). There is never any mention of priests. Believers are told to confess their sins to God (1 John 1:9) and God is faithful and just to forgive sins as they are confessed to him. Although James 5:16 speaks of confessing trespasses to one another, this confession is in no way linked with God’s forgiveness of the trespass. 

The Roman Catholic Church bases its practice of confession to a priest primarily on John 20:23, “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” Because Jesus gave the apostles the authority to forgive sins, Catholics claim that that authority was passed on to their successors, i.e., the bishops and priests of the Roman Catholic Church. There are several problems with this interpretation. 

First, John 20:23 nowhere mentions confession of sin. Second, the scripture nowhere promises, or even hints, that the authority to forgive sins would be passed on to the successors of the apostles. Jesus’ promise was specifically directed to the apostles. Lastly, the New Testament nowhere states that the apostles would even have successors to their apostolic authority.

Therefore, should we confess our sins directly to God or do we need to confess them to a priest? We are to confess our sins to God. He has the power to forgive us.

 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

A priest does not have the power or authority to forgive sins. No man living on earth in this day and age has that authority. This fact does not negate the need we have as individuals to confess our sins openly to other believers. That practice is encouraged in James 5:16, “Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” 

Although God hears the prayers of the righteous, a righteous individual has no power to eradicate the sin of another. However, and most importantly, we Christians are admonished to always forgive others for transgressions against us. 

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15) 

To learn about repentance listen to, “How Do I Live a Life of Repentance?”

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September 24, 2021

Ep.: Can you receive forgiveness even if the other person does not forgive you?

“If you forgive anyone his sins they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” John 20:23

This scripture needs to be looked at in context of the two preceding scriptures. After Jesus was resurrected, he appears to his apostles and tells them,

”’As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the holy spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.’” John 20:21-23 

Jesus is speaking directly to his apostles who, after Pentecost, would possess a great measure of the holy spirit and have the ability to perform miracles. During the course of their ministry, they would define sin and the terms and conditions on which it would be possible to have sins forgiven (heart-felt repentance, justification and reconciliation). Even though Jesus had the power to forgive sins when he walked the earth because he had authority from his Father to do so (Mark 2:10), he did not give that power to the apostles. 

However, the apostles did have the gift of discernment so that they were able to recognize when a person was lying as well as when one was truthful and repentant. For example, the Apostle Peter was able to discern that Ananias and Sapphira were lying when they said that they had given all the money from the sale of their property to the church (Acts 5:1-11). Because Peter possessed the Holy Spirit he was able to read the hearts of these individuals and knew that they were not contrite and worthy of forgiveness. 

The fact that a person refuses to forgive you for a past offense against him has no bearing on the John 20:23 scripture or on whether God forgives you or not. No human has the authority to absolve another human of past sins.

Human forgiveness of sin is entirely different from God’s forgiveness. We humans are commanded to forgive each other, whether or not the person who offended us is worthy of forgiveness or not. (See Matthew 6:14, Luke 6:38, Mark 11:25.) However, only God has the ultimate authority to absolve the offender of sin. 

To learn more about forgiveness listen to, “Did I Really Forgive Them?”

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September 24, 2021

Ep.: How do you rebuke sin and forgive at the same time?

If a Christian is supposed to rebuke sin with the word of God, but Jesus said to forgive 70 times 7, how does this work?

We must first distinguish between God’s forgiveness and our forgiveness. God forgives the sinner’s actual sin if that sinner asks God to do so and is repentant. We can only forgive the sinner’s offense toward us even though that sinner continues in the same offense. We have nothing to do with the sinner’s absolution. We will first look at God’s forgiveness as opposed to ours. 

There are many scriptures that indicate that God forgives all manner of sin and shows mercy to the sinner. “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’-and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” Psalm 32:5 

“If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O LORD, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.” (Psalm 130:3-4) “Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.” Isaiah 55:7

The above scriptures are clear that God forgives provided the sinner is repentant. Repentance means changing one’s mind and actions for the better. Without a positive change of direction, there is no real repentance and, therefore, no forgiveness by God. However, if there is real repentance and God has forgiven the sinner, there are still consequences for the sin. These consequences are necessary for learning to take place. 

One story of betrayal and forgiveness is found in Matthew 26:69-75 and John 21:15-19. It begins with Peter denying Jesus three times and ends with Jesus reinstating Peter when he asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?” Each time he tells Peter to “feed my sheep” thereby canceling out the sin by the action of telling Peter to do now what he was called to do. This is a beautiful story that illustrates the cost of forgiveness and the importance of fixing what we broke.

What about forgiving those who have offended us and continue to offend us? How do we rebuke sin and forgive at the same time? The scriptures tell us that we should and need to forgive, whether the offender is repentant or not. 

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15

 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37

Although we hate the sin and have an obligation to bring that sin to the attention of the offender, we do not hate the sinner. We rebuke the sin by our example. We Christians are following in the path of our Master. His advice to us is as follows: 

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That you may be children of your Father which is in heaven:” Matthew 5:44-45

How thankful we are that God is the ultimate judge of each of us! 

To learn more about judging others listen to, “Is it Ever Right to Judge Your Brother?”

To learn more about forgiveness listen to, “Did I Really Forgive Them?”

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September 20, 2021

VIDEO: What Does the Lord’s Prayer Mean?

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September 08, 2021

Ep.: What is the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation?

Forgiveness and reconciliation are not the same.  Although God always requires forgiveness by the one who was wronged (see Matthew 6:14-15), forgiveness does not always lead to reconciliation, the reason being that reconciliation, unlike forgiveness, is a two-way process involving both the offended and the offender.  

“Forgiveness is an internal process where you work through the hurt, gain an understanding of what happened and let go of the grudge. The offending party is not necessarily a part of this process.  On the other hand, reconciliation is an interpersonal process where you dialogue with the offender about what happened, exchange stories, express the hurt, listen for remorse, and begin to reestablish trust. It is a much more complicated, involved process that includes, but moves beyond forgiveness. Forgiveness is solo. Reconciliation is a joint venture.” (Quoted from an article taken from the Internet)

Reconciliation is focused on restoring broken relationships.  Restoration is a process, sometimes a lengthy one, especially when trust has been deeply broken. Many times even if the offender confesses his or her wrongs and appeals for forgiveness, the offended person may need time before trust is regained.  When a deep hurt has taken place, often words alone are not enough to restore trust.  The offended party should, therefore, look for positive changes in the offender before going forward with reconciliation.

When an offended party works toward reconciliation with the offender, the first step is the genuine repentance on the part of the offender (see Luke 17:3).  Does the offender accept full responsibility for his or her actions and welcome accountability from others?  Has the offender given up his or her hurtful behavior and has a humble and sincere attitude regarding his or her past offense?  Has the offender tried to make restitution where necessary?

We realize that if you have been seriously hurt, you rightfully feel hesitant about reconciling with your offender.  However, if the offender is genuinely repentant, it is important to be open to the possibility of restoration. 

On a grander scale, the Apostle Paul tells us about the ministry of reconciliation in 2 Corinthians 5:18-20.  In the coming age man will be reconciled to God through Christ and his followers in heaven. It will be a lengthy process. If we are true believers, then we will be part of that ministry of reconciliation in the future.  What a wonderful opportunity we have to apply the principles of reconciliation now!

”All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-20

To learn more about forgiveness listen to, “Did I Really Forgive Them?”

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September 08, 2021

Ep.: Do we always need to forgive others even when they cause us harm or severe pain?

Yes, there is forgiveness providing the person asking forgiveness is truly repentant. There are many scriptures that indicate that God forgives all manner of sin and shows mercy to the sinner. 

“Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’-and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” Psalm 32:5 

“If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O LORD, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.” Psalm 130:3- 4

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Is there forgiveness for those who inflict pain on you? Yes, God will grant forgiveness to those provided they are truly repentant. Should you also forgive them? The scriptures are clear that you should, even if they are not repentant or have not asked for forgiveness. 

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15 

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37 

How thankful we are that God is the ultimate judge of each of us! 

To learn more about forgiveness listen to, “Did I Really Forgive Them?”

To learn more about repentance listen to, “How Do I Live a Life of Repentance?”

(6)

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September 07, 2021

Ep.: How can I rejoice when my loved one was just murdered?

Our Savior definitely feels our pain since he was touched by all of our infirmities, including grief. We remember in particular Jesus’ reaction just before he was to perform his greatest miracle of all – the raising of Lazarus.  

“When Jesus saw her [Mary] weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. ‘Where have you laid him?’ he asked. ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’” John 11:33-36

A few weeks after this incident, Jesus was crucified, died and was resurrected, thus paying the ransom price for Adam’s sin so that all who have ever lived will have an opportunity for life everlasting. Therefore, rejoicing, even though you are grieving, is an internal expression of your faith in God’s overruling providence. Of course you may continue to grieve and cry for your loss while you rejoice, remembering God’s wonderful plan of redemption.

1 Thessalonians 4:13 tells us that we do not sorrow like others who have no hope. That does NOT mean we do not sorrow! Death has touched all of us and it reminds us how painful sin ultimately is.

Be assured. Jesus feels your pain. Pray to God and Jesus and ask for comfort and strength as you go through this difficult time. 

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16)

To learn more about grief listen to our podcast, “How Do I Find My Way Through Grief”?

For additional resources, podcasts, and advice, visit our resource page: https://christianquestions.com/grief/

To learn more about forgiveness listen to, “Did I Really Forgive Them?”

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August 30, 2021

Ep.: Can you be forgiven if you have premarital sex?

There are many scriptures that indicate that God forgives all manner of sin and shows mercy to the sinner. “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’-and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” (Psalm 32:5) 

“If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O LORD, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.” (Psalm 130:3- 4) 

“Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.” (Isaiah 55:7)

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) 

The above scriptures are clear that God forgives provided the sinner is repentant. Repentance means changing one’s mind and actions for the better. Without a positive change of direction, there is no real repentance and, therefore, no forgiveness by God. 

If you are truly repentant you are seeking to honor God and His laws in all aspects of your life.

To learn more about what true repentance is listen to, “How Do I Live a Life of Repentance?”

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August 20, 2021

Ep.: How should we deal with someone who has hurt our feelings?

We are to deal with such a person with patience and kindness. We do not know the person’s mental state or what trials he or she may be going through at the time. Rather than dwelling on our own hurt feelings, we, as Christians, are to let go of negative feelings and move forward in peace and forgiveness. Sometimes events that at first seem devastating actually are allowed by God to develop our characters and increase our faith.

 Romans 12:10-21 gives us good advice on the love Christians should have for each other as well as for those of a worldly disposition. 

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. . . . Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. . . . Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live in peace with everyone. . . Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:10-21

To learn more about forgiveness listen to, “Is Forgiveness Really Necessary?”

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August 09, 2021

Ep.1190: Did I Really Forgive Them?

Learning to make our forgiveness toward others genuine

If you do not have a password, please subscribe to our FREE Premium Content for the Full Edition version of CQ Rewind. The welcome message will contain your password, and a reminder will be sent each week when the CQ Rewind is available online for you to read, print, or download.

CHAPTERS

[00:12:09]
How does the meaning of forgiveness vary with our circumstances?


[00:25:34]
Have you ever forgiven someone and found yourself having to do it again and again?


[00:44:56]
How can forgiving someone else dramatically change us and make us happier?


Theme Scripture: Ephesians 4:32

Forgiveness is a tough thing. The times we need to forgive are usually the times we are in no mood to forgive. It can be easy to say, “I forgive you,” but are those words reflected in my thoughts, emotions and actions? Do I say those words out of mere obligation or to just end an uncomfortable exchange? What does it mean to forgive someone anyway? Does my forgiving someone who wronged me release them from the consequences of the wrong? Is it supposed to make life go on as if the wrong never happened? Am I still obligated to forgive if the person who wronged me doesn’t care about being forgiven? So many questions that can only be answered by understanding how the Bible defines forgiveness.

Continue Reading

What does it really mean?

To “forgive” can mean several different things, even in the Bible.  The most dramatic biblical definition of forgiveness is that of granting freedom or a pardon.  Someone has broken a law and they are legally pardoned. This means they are no longer liable to the consequences of their crime and they can walk free. In the New Testament, this particular word for forgiveness is only and appropriately applied to Jesus’ sacrifice. Adam sinned and we are all born into that sin and live lives guilty of that inherited sin. Jesus came and gave his perfect life in exchange for Adam’s and made a pardon available to us through that gift.

In Scripture, when we “forgive” others, we are not pardoning anything. Another word for "forgive" in the New Testament has to do with sending something away from you. While the meaning here is not as dramatic as freedom or pardoning, it is still a formidable task. Think about an experience you have had where someone wronged you. Think about the physical pain, or the trauma, or the emotional upset, or the ripple effects they caused. Now imagine yourself pushing those things away from you so they are no longer relevant. Go ahead, close the door on them! This little exercise probably didn’t get you very far, did it. Why? Forgiveness is hard, that’s why.

To forgive - to truly send the unrest someone’s wrong has caused you away - takes more than an impulse or a thought. It requires a serious commitment to living a forgiving life. Jesus showed us how difficult a forgiving life can be when Peter asked him if forgiving his brother seven times in a day was enough. His answer was no, forgive seventy times seven! I hope you are not counting!

Check out our August 9,2021 podcast, “Did I Really Forgive Them?” for more.  Jesus told us we need to be forgiving in order to be his followers. We isolate the meaning and challenges of truly forgiving someone. We walk through the steps and thinking needed to be forgiving. Finally, we focus in on the benefits of such a decision. Join us as we tackle what can be a difficult but profoundly positive and life-changing experience. This is absolutely a journey worth taking!

 

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VIDEO: What if Your Friends Don’t Believe in God?

That’s okay! You can still be a good example to them by showing Christian principles of faith, honesty, kindness, forgiveness, patience, and joy. To find out more have your youngsters watch this short animated video!

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