by Robert Brow   (www.brow.on.ca)   Kingston, Ontario    February 2008

Absolution can mean either a declaring that sin is forgiven, or a
person's receiving of that declaration.. It was already clear in the
Old Testament that God's love includes "forgiving iniquity and
transgression and sin" (Exodus 34:7; 130:4). But forgiveness from God
that does not mean there are no earthly consequences for sin. David
received personal absolution for his sin through the prophet Nathan (2
Samuel 12:13-14), but there were terrible consequences in his family.
The Psalm writer received personal absolution from God when he said
"you forgave the guilt of my sin" (Psalm 32:5; 103:3). God also gave
absolution to the Jewish people (Psalm 85:2) as a nation. Through the
prophets God announced a new covenant with the Jewish people in which
he promised "I will forgive their sin, and remember their sin no more"
(Jeremiah 31:34). Jesus gave absolution to a paralytic, "Take heart,
son; your sins are forgiven" (Matthew 9:2). And he explained that
"people will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy
against the Spirit will not be forgiven" (Matthew 12:31). This
suggests that the only exception is when people call evil good, choose to
 hate rather  than love, choose misery over joy, and refuse to forgive
instead of being reconciled (as in the Lord's Prayer, Matthew 6:12).
Robert Brow


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