What Is Forgiveness?

Christians who don’t know what forgiveness is are like feminists who don’t know what a woman is.

But the ramifications are significantly worse.

Earlier this week I explained why Christians shouldn’t support Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan. But the most concerning thing about some Christians’ support for Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan isn’t their support for injustice, it’s their redefinition of forgiveness.

There are probably some Christians who support Biden’s plan who also acknowledge that it’s inaccurate to describe it as “forgiveness”. However social media is filled with people who claim that Biden’s plan is in accordance with the Bible’s teachings on forgiveness.

In fact, they claim since Christianity is based on forgiveness—it’s unChristian to oppose student loan forgiveness.

For instance, one ex-evangelical said: “Bold of Christians to be mad about student debt forgiveness while professing a faith that is literally based on forgiving debts.”

Another person said: “If you’re a Christian and you’re big mad about the possibility of student loan debt being canceled. Let me remind you that the entirety of your faith is built on a debt that you can’t pay that someone else stepped in and paid for you.”

Have you noticed that despite their opposition to Christian values, our culture consistently use Christian theology to deceive Christians into accepting ideas that are inconsistent with Christian ethics? Isn’t that from Satan’s playbook?

As the Bible says, “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15)

These reactions over Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan is yet another example of Satan’s servants masquerading as servants of righteousness. Nevertheless, whatever you think of Biden’s plan, it’s inaccurate and unbiblical to describe it as “forgiveness”.

Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan doesn’t forgive debt—it simply redistributes and transfers the debt to unwilling citizens. That makes it unjust. It’s unjust to force others to pay for a debt that isn’t their own.

This is why Jesus prophesied about his substitutionary atonement for sinners by saying: “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

It’s therefore troubling that some Christians are comparing Biden’s student loan “forgiveness” plan with God’s forgiveness of sin.

God didn’t forgive our sins by forcing a person to pay for them. He forgave our debt of sin because Jesus willingly suffered on a cross to pay for them. The good news isn’t simply that God charged Jesus to pay for our debt. No, the good news is that Jesus willingly paid for our debt.

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Therefore Jesus didn’t say you and I should transfer the cost of a person’s offence against us to another. Instead, he’s commanded us to willingly bear the offence.

In other words, Christians like me are not against student loan forgiveness. We’re just against Biden’s student loan forgiveness.

If the corrupt student loan lenders were to forgive debtors, Christians like me would rejoice. It wouldn’t be unjust if lenders willingly canceled student debt. Because that would be real forgiveness. The lenders would be like the kind king in Jesus’ parable about the unforgiving servant. (Matthew 18:21-35)

Biden’s student loan “forgiveness”, however, isn’t real forgiveness. Biden isn’t the lender. He doesn’t have authority to forgive the debts. And the vast majority of American taxpayers are not the debtors, they shouldn’t be forced to pay the debts.

Forgiveness is never through force.

God didn’t forgive our sins by forcing other people to pay for them. He forgave our sins because Jesus willingly paid for them.

Don’t let bad politics corrupt your understanding of the good news.

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