While watching a highly recommended made for television movie last holiday season, I couldn’t believe my ears as the show ended with the stars of the film walking hand in hand into the sunset with the narrator wrapping up the “happily ever after ending” by stating:
“…And she forgave God for all they had been through….”
“And she forgave God” was the television family’s solution to “happiness” after a series of challenging trials.
“What did I just hear?” I blurted out in disbelief of how a seemingly heartwarming (read: sappy) story blatantly ended with HERESY.
In Titus 3:10 a “heretical person” is one who follows his own self-willed “questions,” … Heresies thus came to signify self-chosen doctrines not emanating from God (2 Pet. 2:1).” (Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary)
I genuinely don’t expect anything better from the secular entertainment industry. However, the first time I had encountered this reeking rationale came from another source. Over a decade ago, a friend who genuinely longed to forgive a family member asked me to review a “Christian” book to see if it would be beneficial for her in the process of forgiveness. I read the book until I came to the chapter devoted to “forgiving God.” Um, excuse me?
God’s Forgiveness Defined:
“Divine Forgiveness. God’s restoration of relationship that entails the removal of objective guilt. Thus, to forgive the offense against God’s holiness or the perpetrator of the offense are synonymous.” (Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology)
As a teacher and speaker to women, I have related to women over two decades now, my desire for women to know the character, attributes, and nature of God. Our view of God plays a pivotal role in how we live day to day. With that being said, I want to address the problems this concept of “forgiving God” conveys as I explain to you four reasons I refuse to “forgive God”…
- It Assaults the Character of God
If we either overtly or subtly accept the concept of God somehow needing to be forgiven, then we are making an assumption that God has a fault of some sort that is in need of forgiveness, or that He is guilty of wrongdoing. Friends, this is an attack on the very nature of God. It affects the way we view His righteousness, holiness, and His wisdom as the One TRUE God. God addressed this with Job, our chief scriptural example of suffering other than Jesus Christ. Not to belittle the suffering that took place in the movie, but it was not to the level of which Job suffered. Nor have I experienced any suffering that compares to that of Job. When Job questioned God for all he had gone through, God’s reply was:
Job 40:2, “Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty? Let him who reproves God answer it.”
Let us be quick to learn from Job’s mistake by not repeating it. God does not need to be reproved. There is no fault in Him. He is not like us. If He were like us, He would not be God. Instead, may we be like Job when he realized the error of his thinking and rightly repented:
Job 42:2-6, “I know that you can do all things
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.’
My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.”
Job was not the only one who needed to have a clearer understanding of God’s character. The Israelites also needed to remember who their Maker was and not vice versa by questioning God in his dealings:
Isaiah 45:9-10, “Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker—
An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth!
Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’
Or the thing you are making say, ‘He has no hands’?
- It demeans Christ’s Authority and His work on the Cross.
If we believe we somehow need to forgive God for something He has providentially and lovingly allowed in our lives to make us more like Christ, then as much as I hate to say it, we are worse than the Scribes who proclaimed in Mark 2:6-7:
“But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?”
This passage does not speak directly to man forgiving God, but it does state the truth that God is the ultimate authority as the forgiver of sins. Christ was displaying his Deity in the forgiving and healing of the paralytic. We have not gone to the cross for the sins of mankind. Christ did. He saw the cross as the “joy that was set before him,” not as a need to forgive His Father. So let us be like Christ in our sufferings, rather than accusing God for some perceived wrongdoing.
- It Grieves the Holy Spirit.
When we refuse to see God’s lovingkindness, we are spurning Him, and consequently grieving His heart. We see Israel did this:
Isaiah 63:9-10, “In all their affliction He was afflicted,
And the angel of His presence saved them;
In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them,
And He lifted them and carried them all the days of old.
But they rebelled
And grieved His Holy Spirit..”
When we think we understand our sufferings better than the Most High God, then, like Israel, we have a misunderstanding of His great love for us in our sufferings Who suffers with us, thus grieving the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity.
- It Hinders Our Understanding of the Preciousness of Our Forgiveness
I think one of the most beautiful illustrations of a right view of our forgiveness of sins can be found in Luke 7:41-43, where Jesus tells the parable of the two debtors:
“A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.”
The only logical conclusion to the great forgiveness we have received through Christ Jesus is a great love. Simon the Pharisee didn’t even extend to Christ the essential formality of washing his Jesus’ feet or offer Him water to wash them, which was considered a cultural insult. Yet, the prostitute in Galilee was so filled with gratitude for the forgiveness she received, she washed Jesus’ feet with her costly perfume, her tears of love, and her hair. (Luke 7:44-50)
It is through the miraculous work of Christ becoming sin on our behalf that we can receive forgiveness. Maybe, you are thinking, “Kim, you don’t know what has been done to me, or how the depth of trials I have suffered!” I may not, but I do know our trials are more bearable as we understand our sufferings are really a gift from God, rather than an opportunity to forgive God. We have not suffered to the extent Christ has. Oh, may our hearts instead overflow with gratitude from the riches of His grace!
Richard Sibbes said, “This is a life of faith,
for God will try the truth of our faith,
so that the world may see that God
has such servants as will
depend upon His bare word.”