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Can Man Forgive Sin?

October 8, 2012

Can Man Forgive Sins?
Absolution is a traditional
theological term for the
forgiveness experienced in the
Sacrament of Reconciliation. This
concept is found in the Roman
Catholic Church, as well as the
Eastern Orthodox churches , the
Anglican churches, and most
Lutheran churches .
The Absolution of the Dead is a
series of prayers for pardon and
remission of sins that are said in
some Christian churches over the
body of a deceased believer before
burial. In the Catholic Church the
Absolute are said over a deceased
Catholic following a Requiem Mass
and before burial. The absolution
of the dead does not forgive sins
or confer the sacramental
absolution of the Sacrament of
Penance . Rather, it is a series of
prayers to God that the person’s
soul will not have to suffer the
temporal punishment in purgatory
due for sins which were forgiven
during the person’s life.
GotQuestions: Is the Catholic
concept of absolution biblical?
The Holy Bible is very clear that
God (YHWH) alone can forgive sins
and Jesus Christ (Yeshua
HaMashiach) , being God, has the
power to do so, but He never
communicated any such power to
His apostles, nor did they ever
assume any such power to
themselves, or pretend to exercise
it. In fact, it is the mark of
antichrist to attempt anything of
the kind because, in doing so, he
usurps the divine prerogative and
places himself in God’s seat.
Rather, this passage is to be
understood only in a doctrinal, or
ministerial way, by preaching the
full and free remission of sins
through the blood of Christ,
according to the riches of God’s
grace. To as many as repent of
their sins and believe in Christ, all
disciples of Christ can confidently
declare that all their sins are
forgiven for Christ’s sake and to
His glory.
“Why does this man speak like
that? He is blaspheming! Who
can forgive sins but God alone?”
(Mark 2:7 ESV)
And the scribes and the
Pharisees began to question,
saying, “Who is this who speaks
blasphemies? Who can forgive
sins but God alone?”
(Luke 5:21 ESV)
Most churches that practice the
absolution of sin do so under the
assumed authority of John:20:23.
But does this passage of Scripture
give us the right to forgive the sins
of another man?
If you forgive the sins of any,
they are forgiven them; if you
withhold forgiveness from any,
it is withheld.”
(John 20:23 ESV)
The meaning of this verse has been
hotly debated for centuries. One
thing is certain: this does not mean
we have the power to justify
people from their sins so that they
become born again; only God can
do that.
GotQuestions: What is the
correct interpretation of John
20:23?
The Christian Courier: Can Man
Forgive Sins?
Many people have taught that Jesus
was saying that if we fail to witness
to others, we are retaining their
sins unto them, and if we do share
His love with others, then we are
remitting their sins. Although there
is truth to that statement, that is
not what this verse is teaching.
Rather, this is dealing with the
temporal effects that sin has on
people’s lives. There isn’t just a
future death penalty for sins, but
sin destroys people emotionally
and physically in this life too. It is
this present destruction that sin
brings into people’s lives that Jesus
gave us power to remit.
Through intercession we can remit
people’s sins so that even though
they have sown to the flesh and
deserve to reap corruption, they
will not reap what they have sown.
This is done for the purpose of
loosing people from the bondage
that Satan desires to hold them in
until they see the light and repent.
This is only a temporary situation
and must be continually repeated if
the people we are praying for are
continuing to live in sin.
Do not be deceived: God is not
mocked, for whatever one sows,
that will he also reap. For the
one who sows to his own flesh
will from the flesh reap
corruption, but the one who
sows to the Spirit will from the
Spirit reap eternal life.
(Galatians 6:7-8 ESV)
On the other hand, sometimes it is
not in people’s best interest to
remit their sins. There are times
when they need to be made
painfully aware of the
consequences of their sins. In these
cases, we have power to retain
their sins (church discipline); that
is, we withdraw our intercession
and let them reap what they sow in
the hope that this will cause them
to turn back to God.

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2 Comments
  1. The Lords prayer states: forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Therefore, we must forgive them or loose our own forgiveness from the Lord. The Lord also said: judge not less you be judged. This judgment is not simply knowing that another has sinned, but rather the administration of punishment because of our knowledge. Since the punishment is a result of not forgiving, it places the one making the judgment in danger of judgment themselves. The lack of forgiveness demonstrates a lack of love, and Jesus said: love one another as I have loved you. Therefore, forgiving the sins of others is necessary for all Christians.

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