Study information for the book: Draw Close to Jehovah
cl chap. 26 ¶18-23, box on p. 269 (30 min.)
What About the Consequences?
18. Why does forgiveness not mean that a repentant sinner is exempted from all consequences of his wrong course?
18 Does Jehovah’s readiness to forgive mean that a repentant sinner is exempted from all consequences of his wrong course? Not at all. We cannot sin with impunity. Paul wrote: “Whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap.” (Galatians 6:7) We may face certain consequences of our actions. This does not mean that after extending forgiveness Jehovah causes adversity to befall us. When troubles arise, a Christian should not feel, ‘Perhaps Jehovah is punishing me for past sins.’ (James 1:13) On the other hand, Jehovah does not shield us from all the effects of our wrong actions. Divorce, unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, loss of trust or respect—all of these may be the sad, unavoidable consequences of sin. Recall that even after forgiving David for his sins in connection with Bath-sheba and Uriah, Jehovah did not protect David from the disastrous consequences that followed.—2 Samuel 12:9-12.
Galatians 6:7 Do not be misled: God is not one to be mocked. For whatever a person is sowing, this he will also reap;
James 1:13 When under trial, let no one say: “I am being tried by God.” For with evil things God cannot be tried, nor does he himself try anyone.
2 Samuel 12:9-12 Why did you despise the word of Jehovah by doing what is bad in his eyes? You struck down U•riʹah the Hitʹtite with the sword! Then you took his wife as your wife after you killed him by the sword of the Amʹmon•ites. 10 Now a sword will never depart from your own house, because you despised me by taking the wife of U•riʹah the Hitʹtite as your wife.’ 11 This is what Jehovah says: ‘Here I am bringing against you calamity from within your own house; and before your own eyes, I will take your wives and give them to another man, and he will lie down with your wives in broad daylight. 12 Although you acted in secret, I will do this in front of all Israel and in broad daylight.’”
19-21. (a) How did the law recorded at Leviticus 6:1-7 benefit both the victim and the offender? (b) If others have been hurt by our sins, Jehovah is pleased when we take what action?
19 Our sins may have additional consequences, especially if others have been hurt by our actions. Consider, for example, the account in Leviticus chapter 6. The Mosaic Law here addresses the situation wherein a person commits a serious wrong by seizing a fellow Israelite’s goods through robbery, extortion, or fraud. The sinner then denies that he is guilty, even being so daring as to swear falsely. It is one person’s word against another’s. Later, however, the offender becomes stricken in conscience and confesses his sin. To gain God’s forgiveness, he has to do three more things: restore what he had taken, pay the victim a fine totaling 20 percent of the value of the stolen items, and provide a ram as a guilt offering. Then, the law says: “The priest must make an atonement for him before Jehovah, and so it must be forgiven him.”—Leviticus 6:1-7.
Leviticus 6:1-30 Jehovah went on to say to Moses: 2 “If someone sins and behaves unfaithfully toward Jehovah by deceiving his neighbor in connection with something entrusted to him, or something deposited with him, or he robs or defrauds his neighbor, 3 or he finds something lost and is deceptive about it, and if he swears falsely over any such sin he may commit, this is what he should do: 4 If he has sinned and is guilty, he must return what he stole, what he extorted, what he took by fraud, what was entrusted to him, or the lost thing that he found, 5 or anything about which he swore falsely, and he must make full compensation for it, and he will add to it a fifth of its value. He will give it to the owner on the day his guilt is proved. 6 And he will bring to the priest as his guilt offering to Jehovah a sound ram from the flock according to the assessed value, for a guilt offering. 7 The priest will make atonement for him before Jehovah, and he will be forgiven for anything he may have done resulting in his guilt.” 8 Jehovah continued to speak to Moses, saying: 9 “Command Aaron and his sons and say, ‘This is the law of the burnt offering: The burnt offering will remain on the hearth on the altar all night long until the morning, and the fire will be kept burning on the altar. 10 The priest will clothe himself with his official dress of linen, and he will put the linen shorts on over his flesh. Then he will remove the ashes of the burnt offering that the fire had consumed on the altar and place them beside the altar. 11 Then he will take off his garments and put on other garments and take the ashes to a clean place outside the camp. 12 The fire will be kept burning on the altar. It must not go out. The priest must burn wood on it each morning and arrange the burnt offering over it, and he will make the fat of the communion sacrifices smoke over it. 13 Fire will be kept constantly burning on the altar. It must not go out. 14 “‘Now this is the law of the grain offering: You sons of Aaron are to present it before Jehovah in front of the altar. 15 One of them will take a handful from the fine flour of the grain offering and some of its oil and all the frankincense that is on the grain offering, and he will make it smoke on the altar as a pleasing aroma for a token offering to Jehovah. 16 Aaron and his sons will eat what is left of it. It will be eaten as unleavened bread in a holy place. They will eat it in the courtyard of the tent of meeting. 17 It should not be baked with anything leavened. I have given it as their share out of my offerings made by fire. It is something most holy, like the sin offering and like the guilt offering. 18 Every male among the sons of Aaron will eat it. It is their permanent allowance throughout your generations from Jehovah’s offerings made by fire. Everything that touches them will become holy.’” 19 Jehovah spoke again to Moses: 20 “This is the offering that Aaron and his sons will present to Jehovah on the day he is anointed: the tenth of an eʹphah of fine flour as a regular grain offering, half of it in the morning and half of it in the evening. 21 It will be made with oil on a griddle. You will bring it well-mixed with oil and present it in pieces as a baked product of the grain offering as a pleasing aroma to Jehovah. 22 The anointed priest who succeeds him from among his sons will make it. It is a lasting regulation: As a whole offering it will be made to smoke to Jehovah. 23 Every grain offering of a priest should be a whole offering. It must not be eaten.” 24 Jehovah spoke again to Moses and said: 25 “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is the law of the sin offering: In the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered, the sin offering will also be slaughtered before Jehovah. It is a most holy thing. 26 The priest who offers it for sin will eat it. It will be eaten in a holy place, in the courtyard of the tent of meeting. 27 “‘Everything that touches its flesh will become holy, and when anyone spatters some of its blood on his garment, you should wash what was spattered with blood in a holy place. 28 The earthenware vessel in which it was boiled is to be shattered. But if it was boiled in a copper vessel, then the vessel must be scoured and washed with water. 29 “‘Every male among the priests will eat it. It is something most holy. 30 However, no sin offering is to be eaten if some of its blood is brought into the tent of meeting to make atonement in the holy place. It is to be burned with fire.
Leviticus 6:1-7 Jehovah went on to say to Moses: 2 “If someone sins and behaves unfaithfully toward Jehovah by deceiving his neighbor in connection with something entrusted to him, or something deposited with him, or he robs or defrauds his neighbor, 3 or he finds something lost and is deceptive about it, and if he swears falsely over any such sin he may commit, this is what he should do: 4 If he has sinned and is guilty, he must return what he stole, what he extorted, what he took by fraud, what was entrusted to him, or the lost thing that he found, 5 or anything about which he swore falsely, and he must make full compensation for it, and he will add to it a fifth of its value. He will give it to the owner on the day his guilt is proved. 6 And he will bring to the priest as his guilt offering to Jehovah a sound ram from the flock according to the assessed value, for a guilt offering. 7 The priest will make atonement for him before Jehovah, and he will be forgiven for anything he may have done resulting in his guilt.”
20 This law was a merciful provision from God. It benefited the victim, whose property was returned and who no doubt felt much relief when the offender finally acknowledged his sin. At the same time, the law benefited the one whose conscience at last moved him to admit his guilt and correct his wrong. Indeed, if he refused to do so, there would be no forgiveness for him from God.
21 Although we are not under the Mosaic Law, that Law gives us insight into Jehovah’s mind, including his thinking on forgiveness. (Colossians 2:13, 14) If others have been hurt by our sins, God is pleased when we do what we can to right the wrong. (Matthew 5:23, 24) This may involve acknowledging our sin, admitting our guilt, and even apologizing to the victim. Then we can appeal to Jehovah on the basis of Jesus’ sacrifice and experience the assurance that we have been forgiven by God.—Hebrews 10:21, 22.
Colossians 2:13, 14 Furthermore, though you were dead in your trespasses and in the uncircumcised state of your flesh, God made you alive together with him. He kindly forgave us all our trespasses 14 and erased the handwritten document that consisted of decrees and was in opposition to us. He has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the torture stake.
Matthew 5:23, 24 “If, then, you are bringing your gift to the altar and there you remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar, and go away. First make your peace with your brother, and then come back and offer your gift.
Hebrews 10:21, 22 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us approach with sincere hearts and complete faith, having had our hearts sprinkled clean from a wicked conscience and our bodies bathed with clean water.
22. What may accompany Jehovah’s forgiveness?
22 Like any loving parent, Jehovah may offer forgiveness along with a measure of discipline. (Proverbs 3:11, 12) A repentant Christian may have to relinquish his privilege of serving as an elder, a ministerial servant, or a full-time evangelizer. It may be painful for him to lose for a period of time privileges that were precious to him. Such discipline, however, does not mean that Jehovah has withheld forgiveness. We must remember that discipline from Jehovah is proof of his love for us. Accepting and applying it is in our best interests.—Hebrews 12:5-11.
Proverbs 3:11, 12 My son, do not reject the discipline of Jehovah,And do not loathe his reproof,12 For those whom Jehovah loves he reproves,Just as a father does a son in whom he delights.
Hebrews 12:5-11 And you have entirely forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not belittle the discipline from Jehovah, nor give up when you are corrected by him; 6 for those whom Jehovah loves he disciplines, in fact, he scourges everyone whom he receives as a son.” 7 You need to endure as part of your discipline. God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 But if you have not all shared in receiving this discipline, you are really illegitimate children, and not sons. 9 Furthermore, our human fathers used to discipline us, and we gave them respect. Should we not more readily submit ourselves to the Father of our spiritual life and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time according to what seemed good to them, but he does so for our benefit so that we may partake of his holiness. 11 True, no discipline seems for the present to be joyous, but it is painful; yet afterward, it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
23. Why should we never conclude that we are beyond the reach of Jehovah’s mercy, and why should we imitate his forgiveness?
23 How refreshing to know that our God is “ready to forgive”! Despite the mistakes we may have made, we should never conclude that we are beyond the reach of Jehovah’s mercy. If we truly repent, take steps to right the wrong, and earnestly pray for forgiveness on the basis of Jesus’ shed blood, we can have full confidence that Jehovah will forgive us. (1 John 1:9) Let us imitate his forgiveness in our dealings with one another. After all, if Jehovah, who does not sin, can so lovingly forgive us, should not we sinful humans do our best to forgive one another?
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous so as to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Questions for Meditation
2 Chronicles 33:1-13 Why did Jehovah forgive Manasseh, and what does this teach us about His mercy?
2 Chronicles 33:1-13 Ma•nasʹseh was 12 years old when he became king, and he reigned for 55 years in Jerusalem. 2 He did what was bad in Jehovah’s eyes, following the detestable practices of the nations that Jehovah had driven out from before the people of Israel. 3 He rebuilt the high places that his father Hez•e•kiʹah had torn down, he set up altars to the Baʹals and made sacred poles, and he bowed down to all the army of the heavens and served them. 4 He also built altars in the house of Jehovah, about which Jehovah had said: “In Jerusalem my name will be forever.” 5 And he built altars to all the army of the heavens in two courtyards of the house of Jehovah. 6 And he made his own sons pass through the fire in the Valley of the Son of Hinʹnom; he practiced magic, used divination, practiced sorcery, and appointed spirit mediums and fortune-tellers. He did on a grand scale what was bad in Jehovah’s eyes, to offend him. 7 He put the carved image that he made into the house of the true God about which God had said to David and to his son Solʹo•mon: “In this house and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will permanently put my name. 8 And I will never again remove the feet of Israel from the land that I assigned to their forefathers, provided they carefully observe all that I have commanded them, the entire Law, the regulations and the judicial decisions given through Moses.” 9 Ma•nasʹseh kept leading Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray, causing them to do worse than the nations that Jehovah had annihilated from before the Israelites. 10 Jehovah kept speaking to Ma•nasʹseh and his people, but they paid no attention. 11 So Jehovah brought against them the army chiefs of the king of As•syrʹi•a, and they captured Ma•nasʹseh with hooks and bound him with two copper fetters and took him to Babylon. 12 In his distress, he begged Jehovah his God for favor and kept humbling himself greatly before the God of his forefathers. 13 He kept praying to Him, and He was moved by his entreaty and heard his request for favor, and He restored him to Jerusalem to his kingship. Then Ma•nasʹseh came to know that Jehovah is the true God.
Matthew 6:12, 14, 15 Why should we forgive others when there is a sound basis for doing so?
Matthew 6:12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Matthew 6:14, 15 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; 15 whereas if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Luke 15:11-32 What does this parable teach us about Jehovah’s willingness to forgive, and how does that make you feel?
Luke 15:11-32 Then he said: “A man had two sons. 12 And the younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that should come to me.’ So he divided his belongings between them. 13 A few days later, the younger son gathered all his things together and traveled to a distant country and there squandered his property by living a debauched life. 14 When he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred throughout that country, and he fell into need. 15 He even went and attached himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to herd swine. 16 And he longed to be filled with the carob pods that the swine were eating, but no one would give him anything. 17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, while I am dying here from hunger! 18 I will get up and travel to my father and say to him: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Make me as one of your hired men.”’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him and was moved with pity, and he ran and embraced him and tenderly kissed him. 21 Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quick! bring out a robe, the best one, and clothe him with it, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 Also bring the fattened calf, slaughter it, and let us eat and celebrate, 24 for this son of mine was dead but has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they started to enjoy themselves. 25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he returned and got near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants to him and asked what was happening. 27 He said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father slaughtered the fattened calf because he got him back in good health.’ 28 But he became angry and refused to go in. Then his father came out and began to plead with him. 29 In reply he said to his father, ‘Look! These many years I have slaved for you and never once did I disobey your orders, and yet you never once gave me a young goat to enjoy with my friends. 30 But as soon as this son of yours arrived who squandered your belongings with prostitutes, you slaughtered the fattened calf for him.’ 31 Then he said to him, ‘My son, you have always been with me, and all the things that are mine are yours. 32 But we just had to celebrate and rejoice, for your brother was dead but has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”
2 Corinthians 7:8-11 What must we do in order to receive divine forgiveness?
2 Corinthians 7:8-11 For even if I saddened you by my letter, I do not regret it. Even if I did at first regret it (seeing that the letter saddened you, though only for a little while), 9 now I rejoice, not because you were just saddened, but because you were saddened into repenting. For you were saddened in a godly way, so that you suffered no harm because of us. 10 For sadness in a godly way produces repentance leading to salvation, leaving no regret; but the sadness of the world produces death. 11 For see what a great earnestness your being saddened in a godly way produced in you, yes, clearing of yourselves, yes, indignation, yes, fear, yes, earnest desire, yes, zeal, yes, righting of the wrong! In every respect you demonstrated yourselves to be pure in this matter.
Click on the image to Download complete information into digital files for Computer, Tablet PC, Smartphone
Download information for the personal Studio for Computer, Tablet PC, Smartphone