What does "Forgiven" mean?

Shih Yo Chi

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One of the Christian concepts I'm having trouble reconciling with my current vision of Christ's teachings is "Forgiven" as it relates to "I've been forgiven for that". It seems that I hear a lot of Christians use "Forgiven" with the implication that they are absolved from any responsibility for the act. From my perspective, to be forgiven for something means that you won't be hated for an act. Forgivness is more for the forgiving person than the forgiven person since harboring hate for someone is very self destructive. It's still good for the forgiven person since it's good to know you aren't hated, but it doesn't absolve you of responsibility for your actions, and any debt to society. For example, a person could commit a crime, be sentenced to jail, and be forgiven by everyone they wronged, but that doesn't mean that they should get out of jail any sooner since they are forgiven.

Have I misinterpreted Christians' intent in forgiveness?
Human forgiveness vs. God's forgiveness

Shih Yo Chi said:
For example, a person could commit a crime, be sentenced to jail, and be forgiven by everyone they wronged, but that doesn't mean that they should get out of jail any sooner since they are forgiven.

Actually, I think they could get out sooner. The question is, of course, did they really mean it when they asked for forgiveness (assuming that they did ask; I don't think a person can truly be forgiven unless they ask for forgiveness).

The best teaching I have ever found about forgiveness actually comes from the 18th chapter of Ezekiel. In that chapter, God says to Ezekiel that on the day of a person's repentance, none of his sins will be remembered. Put that in the context of your analogy: The man who committed that crime, if he repents and asks God to forgive him, will not have that crime remembered against him by God.

Here's the catch: We aren't God. I think a human being's concept of forgiveness is far less, well, forgiving than God's is. Whereas Jesus can say to a man "Your sins are forgiven," and that man's sins will actually be forgiven, it's quite common for me to say to others who have hurt me "Your sins are forgiven," but deep down I still remember what they did to me. So while the crime may not be remembered by God, it will likely be remembered by the humans it affected, and definitely by secular law which is, for the most part, unforgiving.

I also think there is a distinction between being forgiven and fulfilling responsibility. The same God who said that our sins will not be remembered against us on the day of our repentence also said that we shall reap what we sow. Lets say that a man cheats on his wife. He catches AIDS as a result. After he asks God for forgiveness, will the AIDS go away? No; he has planted a seed, and now he will reap the consequences.

But the important thing is that he has been forgiven by God; AIDS will cause you to suffer for several years, but Satan is waiting for a chance to make you suffer forever.

Does any of this make sense? I know it is jumbled, but I don't have time to fix it now.
Marsh, you make good sense. I still need to think about "forgiven" and "responsibility". I not sure if I believe that being forgiven by God and Man, relieve someone of their debt to society, but I need to think about it in the context you've given me. Thanks.
I know this is old but screw it.... I am answering it....

You been talking of jail... And forgiving that inmate.... Yes he should be forgiven.. No he shouldn't be let out because he has been forgiven lol... He has been given a sentence by his law enforcements, you have done this, so you have to be punished with X amount of years. The comiting of a crime or wrong agaisn't another... Instantly puts this freaking crazy pressure down tight on your shoulders and it grasps in and get at you and is dead weight you drag around with you and not to mention the side dishes of guilt and such...

To be forgiven... It erases that pressure that feeling tying you down.... Second chances/forgiveness is amazingly powerful! :D