Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Forgiveness

“The LORD said to Moses: ‘If anyone sins and is unfaithful to the LORD by deceiving his neighbor about something entrusted to him or left in his care or stolen, or if he cheats him, or if he finds lost property and lies about it, or if he swears falsely, or if he commits any such sin that people may do—when he thus sins and becomes guilty, he must return what he has stolen or taken by extortion, or what was entrusted to him, or the lost property he found, or whatever it was he swore falsely about. He must make restitution in full, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the owner on the day he presents his guilt offering.’” (Lev. 6:1-5)

The quotation is followed by the requirement of the guilt offering and then this wonderful promise: “In this way the priest will make atonement for him before the LORD, and he will be forgiven for any of these things he did that made him guilty” (Lev. 6:7).

Two things were necessary for forgiveness to be given and received: 1) restitution and 2) a sacrifice for the sins committed. We know from the New Testament that the guilt offering is still necessary, but has been provided by God in the death of Jesus Christ. “But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God” (Heb. 10:12).

Yes, Jesus Christ is our guilt offering, but what about the other condition, restitution? We have been conned into thinking that because we have received Jesus, restitution is not necessary. However, repentance includes action (restitution), and if restitution has not taken place, our conscience still hurts. It may be shoplifting; plagiarism on a term paper or a thesis; lying on income tax returns; or some other form of cheating and lying.

There are reasons we do not want to make restitution. “The disgrace would be great,” “I do not have the money,” “I would flunk the class,” “I would lose my Ph.D.” Even if these things happen, it is worth it to be clean. Make restitution! Restitution is not a “work” as opposed to “faith.” It is part of repentance.

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