“Iniquity is atoned for by mercy and truth. Evil is avoided by reverence for God.” Proverbs 16:6
To atone means to pay for the iniquity, the evil, or wrong we have done. The payment (atonement) makes restitution and restores us to our former state. The end result is forgiveness. The principle of forgiveness is probably one of the most rewarding principles we can experience in life, because it has a major effect on our health and well being as a person.
In order to experience forgiveness, we need to understand why we should accept and receive forgiveness from God. We must first recognize that God is holy and just, and wants us to practice righteousness with each other, derived from His laws. He made the true rules of life and living. These rules are called Truth. They cannot be broken without penalties. They are like the law of gravity. We cannot change its rules, but must learn to live by them. Likewise, God’s law is just, and punishment must follow its violation; otherwise, God’s Word could not be trusted. However, unlike gravity—where punishment follows immediately after violation— mercy and forgiveness are available for us while we are in the process of learning the spiritual rules of life, giving us second chances. God’s attitude is that “all people are my creation.” He loves everyone, good and bad. The difference is that the righteous have discovered what makes life work, while others have not.
God knew that we would fall short of His law of righteousness, so He provided a law of atonement. He
calls this forgiveness. If we don’t understand or receive forgiveness, then we are under the penalty and
punishment of God’s system of justice. Jesus did not come to destroy or take away God’s law of justice, but to teach us principles of love and mercy, tempered with justice. He offers forgiveness for those who receive Him. Law without mercy makes life hard and tough. It brings on constant guilt and anger which destroys our health and relationships. Without experiencing forgiveness we develop a bad attitude about people and life in general, putting ourselves in a negative, defensive mode toward life.
If we receive and understand the principle of forgiveness we will receive atonement (payment). Atonement is simply forgiveness for our failures, so we can get up and start again, so we can prosper
and be glad and walk as children of light. Jesus is more than the way. He is also the truth and the life. He is just, but also has offered us mercy and forgiveness while we are in the process of learning to live under the just rules of His Kingdom.
Forgiveness is a gift of high value and is common amongst the humble.
What are some challenges you face with this principle of forgiveness?
Each week inside of prison I meet with several groups of guys and study a principle with the goal of cultivating a values-driven, God-centered lifestyle. This week our principle was Forgiveness. If you want to read last weeks principle click here.
For more on this Principle see Global Priority.