When our brother John wrote of the commission of the apostles I believe that he did so with specific intent and purpose. Like so many of the verses which he wrote, this one stands apart from what was written in the other gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. It seems overall that his intent may have been to include in his writings what might be of importance and left out of some of the other writings released to the masses before his own. Taking this into consideration I like to always keep this in mind when reading the book of John.
What I would like to point out is that it is commonly overlooked in today’s popular culture and secular society, that the Lord came baptizing in the Holy Spirit for the purpose of His will toward our salvation and quite clearly when giving the pillars of our church, that gift which was promised, He says, “The sins that you choose to retain shall be retained.”
From what I have been paying close attention to now for years, when observing social media, practices of the clergy, and the many things being taught in man’s philosophies, there seems to be quite a trend of unilateral forgiveness. In some cases this is great and in others, not so much.
Shall the Lord breathe upon us the power, wisdom, and truth of the Holy Spirit and leave us in the dark of how best to discern of when sin should be retained or not retained? I highly doubt it. When people have sinned against us or our Lord in ignorance, then praise the Lord, because it is much easier to forgive than when the sin is done with intent and malice. Clearly not all sin should be forgiven unilaterally, for then there would have been no point or purpose in the power and authority to retain sin being given.
So often in today’s world there is promoted the concept that forgiveness is something separate from reconciliation and restoration. Truly in the eyes of psychology this is true. However, in the eyes of the Spirit this is not true. Why would Jesus give His own life and blood if forgiveness were that simple? Our Father could have just spoke in a booming voice from heaven toward the entire race of man and said, “You are forgiven.” but that would do nothing for us to be in relationship to Him or with Him. Therefore it is not and never has been of His purpose to separate reconciliation and restoration from forgiveness. He wants us to be with Him and righteous in His presence and in this He shows to us by giving the life of His own Son; this is the pattern of love and atonement to follow.
It is also true that to live in a state of being unforgiving can be quite brutal, make our heart become cold and hardened, and lead us to the edge of a slippery slope. So why would the Holy Spirit and the Lord ever send us down that path? Shouldn’t we see it as a temptation to avoid? It is truly difficult to live in that type of hurt and loss, but the Holy Spirit is also referred to as Our Comforter for our benefit. The Spirit will do all things in accordance to His will and purpose. If we discern properly the retention of sin accordingly, then the Spirit gives us all consolation through our Father’s love. Just as we face all other trials and tribulations and the Spirit is with us, the Spirit is with us here as well.
What if Christ were to abandon us? What if He were to tell us I forgive you, but then leave us as orphans in a world of chaos and exile? That would deny Himself would it not? And this is of what even God our Father cannot do. He cannot lie and He cannot and will not deny Himself for He is I AM. Toxic people need us to love them, to forgive them, and to reconcile with them. They need to see and know the love of our Father through us and in us. Sinners are toxic. Yet then we all are toxic and we all are sinners. In a self-assessment how many people have you cut-off from your life and being in relationship with them because you found them intolerable or toxic and sinful in some way? I am truly guilty of it, just as most are, but it will never prevent me from accepting and knowing the truth through Him and the Spirit.
In fighting back against evil and sin, we must pour the hot coals of love’s refining power upon the top of our enemies. Those who our Father has willed to have shame and thereby also His admonishment and love shall certainly have it. If we give forgiveness without doing so, with not standing up against the malice, betrayal, and deceit, and overcome it , in and by the Word and our love, then the ones who we love benefit nothing, nor do we.
Despite much abuse, divorce, and the children which I have been gifted by the Lord being removed from my presence, by my spouse, to this day I still call her my wife and wear my wedding ring, all while retaining her sin and transgressions because I refuse to allow evil to overcome love. It is this constant and unrelenting love, sacrifice, and remaining steadfast in faith toward righteous justice and salvation that I will never let go of. If I get to take anything with me, to the better place, then this is it and I need nothing more. Amen and thank you Jesus my Savior.