I received an anonymous comment on my “In Memoriam” post this morning. Since I moderate post comments (comments are sent to my email address for approval or denial so that spam isn’t automatically posted), I usually don’t publish anonymous posts. But this person had a genuine, heartfelt question and I felt I should do my best to answer it.`
The question was,
“ Do you think he was forgiven for past wrongs against other people, even though he may never had admitted them or asked forgiveness for them? What are your thoughts on that?”
To answer this, I had to go to the ultimate Authority, my Bible. Even though my father was a wonderful Christian man, I hope I didn’t portray him as a perfect person. He wasn’t. In fact, Romans 3:23 says,
“all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
So that’s an answer to your implied question, “Did my father commit past wrongs against others,” – yes, he did.
Now on to the next point, forgiveness. You asked if he would be forgiven even if he never admitted or asked forgiveness for his wrongs against others. Well, according to the Bible, we don’t have to make a “My Name is Earl” list of those who we’ve wronged so that we can make it right in order to be forgiven. In fact, I think forgiveness is a personal thing between the person who committed the wrong and God. Now, it would be a GOOD thing for us to admit our error and ask forgiveness from those we hurt. And it would certainly be the right thing for a Christian to do, but it’s not a requirement according to the Bible.
Now before you think that we can hurt others all we want without worrying about the consequences, Hebrews 9:22 says,
“Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”
In other words, in order for us to be forgiven, the Bible requires the death penalty. Whoa! That’s heavy, isn’t it?
But thankfully, Ephesians 1:7 says,
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace ..”
And Act 10:43 says,
“To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
So, who is “him?” Again, I went to the Bible, so I could make sure I say it correctly. One of the most quoted verses from the Bible (for good reason) is John 3:16. It says that, ”
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Now before I get totally immersed in “Christian-speak,” let me explain a few things. Our God is perfect – without blemish or sin. He HATES sin. In fact, He hates it so much that He can’t look on anyone that isn’t perfect. Sounds like we don’t have a chance, right? Well, way back when, early people had to find a perfect lamb, young bull or bird to kill so that they could be forgiven. They symbolically put all the things they’d done wrong on that poor innocent animal and then it paid the death penalty. Doesn’t sound fair, does it?
But God also promised another way for us to get forgiveness: enter John 3:16. He sent his perfect, sinless, only Son to pay the death penalty for us. And all we have to do is admit we’re sinners and believe in Him – no magic words, no incantations, we don’t even have to ask that person we hurt to forgive us. (That doesn’t sound fair either, does it?) But you know what? If we truly believe that Jesus was God’s son and that His death gives us forgiveness, then we have to love him. And if we love Him, we don’t want to hurt Him. Yes, that sentence was present-tense. That’s because He conquered physical death when He walked out of his tomb – alive, with a physical body. He wasn’t a ghost or spirit; He was, is and always be real.
So back to your question, because Daddy believed that Christ died for his errors, he was forgiven even if he didn’t admit to the wrong or ask forgiveness for it. But because he loved Jesus, he did admit that he had evil in his heart (as we all do) and apologized where he could.
Now, if someone has done some wrong to you and died without asking forgiveness, then that issue is between Him and God. So now what? If you are a Christian, you have a responsibility to forgive as you have been forgiven. What? Forgiveness is OUR responsibility? Yup. Colossians 3:13 says,
“bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
Rats! So even if the person who wronged us NEVER asks for forgiveness, because we’ve been forgiven, it’s our responsibility to forgive.
I hope all this make sense. If it doesn’t, please feel free to email me at page(dot)mcmanus(at)yahoo.com. I’ll do what I can to answer your questions, OK?
‘Hope that helped.