To Forgive or To Bind

John 20:21-23

Photo by Karl Fredrickson / Unsplash

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

John 20:21–23, ESV

God desires us to find peace with Him in our hearts and our lives. He first gave the Holy Spirit to the Disciples, and that was then promised to all of us. It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we believe, and He is promised to us in our Baptism as we are baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. A great sense of this peace comes as we learn to forgive and release the burden of sin that lies upon our hearts. That is one of the greatest gifts that our Lord has given us. Jesus, however, does not just give us, as His followers, the power to forgive, but we also have the power to bind. This is often misunderstood, but the purpose is not to judge but to discern. Forgiveness is easily given when a person is truly contrite, and you can hear that they have remorse for their wrong actions. That is a burdened soul in need of the forgiveness that our Lord Jesus Christ is offering. When a person wants to feel justified in their sin, however, they are not ready for forgiveness. Forgiveness is not making a sin OK, but it is removing a burden from the shoulders of a brother or sister that feels what they did was truly wrong and offers no excuse for their error but takes it as their own. If we try to justify our sin, we are attempting to blame another for the sin and not truly believing that we were fully wrong. Our sin is our sin, and we must take full responsibility for it in order to be truly forgiven. The sin of another is their own sin, and each person must either seek to be forgiven or that sin will remain bound to them. In this way, we can find peace with one another and know the forgiveness that our Lord Jesus Christ has brought into the world.

Let us pray. I thank you, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, your dear Son, that you have kept me this night from all harm and danger, and I ask you to protect me this day also from sin and every evil, that in all I do today, I may please you. For into your hands, I commend myself, my body and soul, and all that is mine. Let your holy angel watch over me, that the wicked foe have no power over me. Amen.

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