James on Trial

Help Understanding Hardships

P3 – Purpose of Trials – Forgiveness

Written By: Ray - Aug• 10•10

In my last article I stated that trials are not always a direct result of our actions. But it is also true that some trials ARE the direct result of our own actions. It may even be the most common reason for hardship. When we overspend, we can expect to be pressed financially as we try to repay our creditors. The principle of reaping what we sow is true (with the exception of God’s gift of salvation).

There are some present-day “prophets” who announce that God cannot bless a person (or a church, etc) because “there is sin in the camp.” No doubt referring to the Biblical story of Achan in Joshua chapter seven. And, Paul commanded the church at Corinth to disfellowship a person in their ranks who had committed incest.It is important that sin be confessed and the offender repent. However, we are not to continue punishing offenders after they receive God’s forgiveness.

In 2Co 2:6, Paul told the church at Corinth that they had sufficiently punished the offender (the incestuous person is supposed). He even continued (in verse 7), “Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him.” WOW! Evidently, that person had truly repented and now the church was expected to respond in the same way that God did – “forgive and comfort him.”

If the church failed to respond with forgiveness, Paul said that the man might be “overwhelmed by excessive sorrow” (2:7). The Scripture (2Co 7:10) requires “Godly sorrow” which “brings repentance that leads to salvation.” Such sorrow “leaves no regret.” The devil will keep bringing up our past – even after we repent and God forgives us. But God said that He “will forgive their wickedness and will REMEMBER their sins no more (Heb 8:12). Nor should we rehearse our past sins and harbor “regret” (in the sense of feeling unforgiven).

Neither should the church keep such records. Paul said that to do so could cause the (forgiven) person to be “overwhelmed by excessive sorrow” (2Co 2:7). Godly sorrow “leaves no regret” but “worldly sorrow brings death” (2Co 7:10). The difference? Evidently, it includes our “repentance”, “salvation” and living with “no regret.” It is in this last part (regret) that others (including the church) can be a hindrance. Without the forgiveness of others, a person may not be able to forgive themselves and stop the self-punishment of regret. If they continue in regret, they may be “overwhelmed by excessive sorrow” (2Co 2:7). [Note: this may help us to understand Mt 16:19, “the keys of the kingdom of heaven.”]

After a sinner offers godly sorrow and repents, God offers salvation and “no regret” should be the result. We should all leave it behind. Indeed, Paul told the church that rather than continue their punishment of the incestuous man, they were to “forgive and comfort him” (2Co 2:7). And to seal the matter, Paul said that they were “to reaffirm your love for him” (2:8).

To sum it up: We “reap what we sow.” When we sin, we should understand that God has set a price on that action and the “wages of sin” (Ro 6:23) will have to be paid. But, when Jesus pays a person’s debt, who are WE to still hold them accountable? If we are suffering in trials, it may be the result of our own actions – including our unwillingness to forgive those whom God has forgiven!

The next article in this series will deal with how to use trials to defeat Satan. Check back soon…

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