The Inner Struggle

Sin and Forgiveness …

Minus 20 degrees Celsius today with a 20 to 30 Km/hr wind. Bitter. Going down to -28 Degrees tonight. Better plug the vehicles in. Made lasagna tonight – comfort food with a good red wine. What has that to do with sins and forgiveness you might ask? Quite a bit actually. The weather is part of what we euphemistically term the “human condition”. Weather, illness, work, food or the lack thereof, comfort, love, friends, enemies, government, evil, good. Dissatisfaction continually at war with contentment. Man, (and Woman) knows, with an inborn awareness, that something is wrong in this human existence, something not quite defined, a lurking shadow that effects everything we experience. Many of us in these enlightened progressive times like to think that the root cause of this historical disorder is the notion that “a man can do something wrong or evil”. All we need to be perfect is rid ourselves of the silly claim that good and evil exist. It’s all “relative”, right?

Yet evil and discontent seems perennially connected with our condition. Men did not suddenly realize one day that they sinned. From the beginning of history they did not and do not know what to do about the evils that they sent and send into the world because of their sins.  They sense that they have done wrong and all the bluster and pretense doesn’t make it feel OK. “I’m OK, Your OK” just doesn’t cut it when the rubber hits the road, no matter what the guru’s of self realization preach. What man senses he needs is forgiveness. That forgiveness has to be placed in the hands of someone authorized to forgive. No ordinary person possesses this capacity. We are all in this together and if we are to escape our fate we have to be forgiven by someone outside the pit.

Over the last hundred thousand years or so, very few of the billions of people who have lived on this planet have heard of this forgiveness of sins that Revelation postulates. Among those who have heard of it, not many practice it. To cover this situation, we talk of being sorrowful. and we have been taught that God will forgive even if we know nothing of the Sacrament on the forgiveness of sin. Some expand this view to save everyone, while others suspect that, if everyone is forgiven, no matter what they do, why bother being good? The good and the bad are equally redeemed with or equally without forgiveness, but as mentioned in a previous post “sin clouds our intellect and destroys right judgement”.

We know in our hearts that we need “forgiveness” from some authority above our state, our condition. We need forgiveness from God, from the Divine.  And we need genuine forgiveness that does not excuse but requires sorrow, and contrition, and amendment and amends. “The great sacrifice for the sins of mankind was offered by the death of the Messiah, who is called in Scripture: ‘The Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world.’”  Samuel Johnson, 1781.  The Messiah is the only source of all genuine forgiveness. Even when men and women genuinely forgive they are only passing on that which was given them by the Messiah.

“… Forgiving does not mean excusing. Many people seem to think it does. They think that if you ask them to forgive someone who has cheated or bullied them you are trying to make out that there was really no cheating or bullying. But if that were so, there would be nothing to forgive. (This doesn’t mean that you must necessarily believe his next promise. It does mean that you must make every effort to kill every taste of resentment in your own heart – every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out.) The difference between this situation and the one in which you are asking God’s forgiveness is this. In our own case we accept excuses too easily, in other people’s we do not accept them easily enough. As regards my own sins it is a safe bet (though not a certainty) that the excuses are not really so good as I think; as regards other men’s sins against me it is a safe bet (though not a certainty) that the excuses are better than I think. One must therefore begin by attending to everything which may show that the other man was not so much to blame as we thought. But even if he is absolutely fully to blame we still have to forgive him; and even if ninety-nine per cent of his apparent guilt can be explained away by really good excuses, the problem of forgiveness begins with the one per cent of guilt that is left over. To excuse, what can really produce good excuses is not Christian charity; it is only fairness. To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.  …”

From “Essay on Forgiveness” by C.S Lewis, The McMillan Publishing Company, Inc. N.Y. 1960.

Cheers,

Joe

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Disclaimer for nitpickers: We take pride in being incomplete, incorrect, inconsistent, and unfair. We do all of them deliberately

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