Editor’s Note: AMI devotionals from Sept. 28-Oct.2 are written by Pastor Ryun Chang.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
2 King 24:3-4 (ESV): Surely this came upon Judah at the command of the Lord, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done, 4 and also for the innocent blood that he had shed. For he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the Lord would not pardon.
Joseph Prince, pastor of a megachurch in Singapore, who writes, “We don’t have to keep on asking the Lord . . . for forgiveness because He has already forgiven us,” would probably warn us to stay clear of this verse: “The LORD was not willing to forgive” (NIV). However, be rest assured that even during the Old Testament time, God was all too willing to forgive the wayward Israelites with whom He had covenanted unconditionally (i.e., an unbreakable contract). Though indignant God had declared, “I will no longer show love to the house of Israel, that I should forgive them” (Hos. 1:6), in the next breath, He added, “Yet I will show love to the house of Judah” (1:7). God assured the Jews being punished in Babylonia as captives, “I will restore [your] fortunes and have compassion” (Jer. 33:26).
Then why does God make statements that seem to contradict His very nature? How can an omniscient God, upon seeing man’s wickedness during Noah’s days, “repent . . . that he had made man on the earth” (Gn. 6:6 KJV). Surely, the term “anthropomorphic” is too heavy for a morning devotion, but we cannot understand why God would say, “I’m not willing to forgive,” apart from grasping its meaning. Anthropomorphism is attributing human qualities to God, so that we may gain an adequate understanding of this infinite being whose nature and qualities would otherwise be unknowable to finite humans. The essence of anthropomorphic expressions isn’t doctrinal exactitude—but emotional candidness, to draw us closer so as to hear His heartbeat. And as we wait in stillness, we would hear Him say, “You matter to me.” Think about that for a second: the God of this vast universe, instead of being indifferent, actually cares about me; so much so that He would respond emotionally—rather than doctrinally—when we err to our own detriment!
God has already forgiven all our sins in Christ, but we must first acknowledge our sins and then confess them for His forgiveness to be effectual (1 Jn. 1:9). So today, examine your heart in light of the Scriptures; and under the guidance of the Spirit, confess your sins to the Lord in order that your relationship with Him would be truly restored.
Dear Lord, I praise You this morning for your loving kindness. While I’m easily dismissed and ignored by those who are more powerful than me, I’m heartened to realize that You, who is above everyone and everything, considers me so important that You would open Your heart towards me. While I don’t understand why I would matter to You, I’m awed and grateful that You do.
Bible Reading for Today: 1 Thessalonians 3
Lunch Break Study
Pastor Prince comments that since “[God] . . . forgave all—past, present, and future—of our trespasses” (p. 44) . . ., we don’t have to confess our sins in order to be forgiven. We confess our sins because we are already forgiven” (p. 104).
Read Matt. 6:14-5: For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
1 John 1:9-10: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Matt. 18:34-5: And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
Question to Consider
- How would appraise Prince’s theology or teaching in light of these verses?
- If you consider this matter similar to Christ’s atonement for the world (1 Jn. 2:2: “He is the atoning sacrifices for our sins, and not only for ours but for the sins of the whole world”) and our need to actually believe what he did to be saved, then, what would you say to those who insist that we don’t need to confess ours sin because they are already forgiven?
- Are you in need of asking forgiveness from God? We learned today that we must first ask forgiveness from the one whom we wronged. Pray about making that call to reconcile today.
- The main problem is that his teaching doesn’t address these verses that say that we won’t be forgiven unless we forgive those who wronged us and unless we confess our sins. Having read his book (2007), he either ignores these verses or does a very poor job of explaining them. For instance, he insists that 1 John 1:9 addresses the unbelieving Gnostics, which is incorrect, since John wrote 1 John to the believers to “make [their] joy complete” (1:4).
- The fact that Jesus is the “atoning sacrifices for the sins of the whole world” doesn’t mean that everyone in the world for which Jesus died is already saved. They need to first hear the gospel, and then believe. Likewise, those who are in Christ are already forgiven in Him (future sins included), but they must first recognize and then confess them in order for God’s forgiveness to “kick in.” That doesn’t mean that unforgiving Christians who, therefore, are unforgiven of a particular sin are no longer saved; while the relationship is still intact, there cannot be a true fellowship with God as long as we linger in our unconfessed sins.
- Personal response.
One undeniable fact is that we are full of self-righteousness. As a result, we see “the speck of sawdust in our brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in our own eye (Matt. 7:2). In looking back, were you upset at someone today for what that person said or did to you? Stay still and ask the Holy Spirit to bring clarity to that situation. What really happened? Does that person still owe you an apology, or is it you? Even if that person did wrong, were you overly righteous in your response (Eccles. 7:16)? Did you forgive or ask for forgiveness? It is never too late.