Inspiration – To err is human; to forgive, divine: not!

Pastor Keith Williams,
High Prairie Bethel Baptist Church

Alexander Pope is credited with saying, “To err is human; to forgive, divine.”

But is this true?

I came across this little article that I hope plants a few seeds for thought.

“To err is human; to forgive, divine.” We encounter this common saying frequently, yet both parts of it are seriously wrong. The idea that “to err is human” implies that human beings cannot help but sin, and this implies that sin is not all that serious.

If this saying were true, then Jesus must have sinned, since Jesus was human.

If this saying were true, then God was wrong to call Adam to account for his sin since Adam couldn’t help himself.

The second half is also wrong. It is true that God chooses to forgive His people, but forgiveness is not a necessary attribute of God. God is not obligated to forgive anybody.

But people have invented the idea that God owes forgiveness to erring humanity, and people become offended at the notion that God’s wrath is revealed against sin.

“How dare God be angry at my sin!” they think. “God is supposed to forgive!”

Thus, the saying, “To err is human; to forgive, divine” excuses our sins and makes God our servant.

Behind this false proverb is the notion that sin is caused by the fact we are limited, finite beings. Christianity says sin is rebellion against God. Sin is not caused by our finitude. If that were so, then God has made an imperfect creation because the creation is finite.

No, sin is personal. Everyone has a personal relationship with God. We either hate Him or we love Him. It has nothing to do with our finitude, our creaturely limitations. That we cannot pass through walls does not cause us to rebel against our Maker.

The finitude theory has been popular among heretics and liberals throughout the history of Christianity. It claims that we are inherently limited creatures and that evil is a necessary component of finitude.

This idea is the ultimate moral cop-out because it puts the blame for sin on God, who created a finite universe. The problem of evil, however, is not our finitude but that as God’s image-bearers, we rebel against Him and transgress His laws. God will not judge us for being finite, but He will justly judge us for being disobedient.

Coram Deo means “before God’s face.” In a sense, all people live before God’s face, but most pretend otherwise and invent false religions and philosophies to help live a lie. Do not excuse your sin but repent, remembering all you do is before the face of God.

God owes us nothing.

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