When we think of getting rid of sin, we immediately think in terms of reformation. Something badly done should be done differently. Amends and restitution should be made. But we cannot reform someone else. What we can do is to forgive the sinner for departing somehow from their original innocence.
One way to think about forgiveness is that it is the process of replacing an offensive thought of someone with a better thought. Forgiveness is not condoning a fault, or sweeping it under the rug, but rather removing from consciousness whatever is unlike God. Each one of us is made in God’s own image and likeness, and that version of us is all that’s real in the kingdom of heaven, which is right here, as Jesus said, “at hand.”
Since we are all actually the image and likeness of God, when Jesus saw someone from that standpoint, he would pronounce their sin as forgiven, because it was removed (expunged; exterminated; vamoosed!) from his consciousness. Both sin and forgiveness can only happen in consciousness– that is the only place either can actually occur. When we clear out of our mentality any belief of fault, we find the slate wiped fresh and clean both for ourselves and others. This is why forgiveness is so inextricably linked to healing; the cause of the error is gone. What appears to be an evil person is simply a failure to be conscious of the man God created.
It seems to me many of us need to be forgiven for our lack of forgiveness. Sins are forgiven only as they are destroyed, and we can destroy the sins of others by eliminating their transgressions from our consciousness like Jesus did. It is our false estimates and false witness of both ourselves and others that causes discord, but we can experience harmony by turning from whatever shortcomings and atrocities, to instead claim and focus on whatever is eternally true in the kingdom of heaven.
Often people say that we forgive others only to help ourselves move past their bad behavior, and that it is not to release the perpetrator from censure. Most people think of forgiveness as a survival tool to get over how other people’s problems affect them, while leaving the sinner to wallow without reprieve or assistance. We act like we are not immeshed in and partially responsible for where they find themselves.
We need to be clear to denounce the sin but not the sinner. That distinction is vitally important. So often we throw the baby out with the bath water, so to speak. Sin happens when we think sinful thoughts. We should realize our thinking better thoughts of the sinner helps and frees them do better, and the benefits of making this effort should not be overlooked.
What an improved world we could live in if we identified everyone as God made and maintains them! What goes around comes around. Wouldn’t you rather someone else not be bearing false witness of you?
We have the ability and even the obligation to remove the burden that our downward dragging thoughts cast on others. We can know that God’s creation must necessarily express only good, and by dwelling on this, we lift up everyone within the circumference of our thought.
While doing this consciousness cleansing, are we just putting our head in the sand, and allowing unmitigated evil to prosper? It sure seems like it sometimes. After all, wouldn’t we surreptitiously rather relish our self righteous indignation, and revel at least a bit in feeling superior to those that are egregiously in the wrong? But disparaging others discredits us, and is a systemic part of the problem.
Condemnation brings more negativity, which spirals further and further down. We’ve all seen negativity feed and spread, ripple out and compound. Let’s refuse to be part of that, and refuse as well to inflict it on others. Some people define that as malpractice, and it can be debilitating and hard to overcome. Have compassion and don’t do that.
Jesus came to show us a better way. “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” (Matthew 5:44) If you love those that need forgiveness, it is an important first step toward reforming them, by making it that much easier for them to, “Go, and sin no more.” Blessing is surely the higher path.
Do we really own how culpable we are in perpetuating not only our own sins, but the sins of others? It happens in consciousness, and not only theirs, but ours collectively. Let’s stop bearing false witness and do the rectifying identification work of seeing both ourselves and others as God made us, without lapse, fully representing infinite good, right now and always.
Who could you see more correctly today? The current political arena offers lots of opportunities, if your personal lives among friends, family, work associates, and fellow church members don’t provide enough occasion. Cleanse in your thought whoever you think is falling short of the high ideal, and realign them in your thinking with how God made them. Know what is most deeply true about how they are right now in the kingdom of heaven, and this will proportionably free them to do better here on earth.
One of the Ten Commandments after all, is that we should not bear false witness. This is not only true on the human scene, but is even more profoundly necessary on the spiritual level. When everyone holds each other in consciousness as God’s likeness, we’ll have peace on earth. Sinners will be transformed by eliminating sin from consciousness. Where does that peace start? With each one of us, right now.