Central to the understanding of Substitutionary Atonement is the idea that through his death on the cross Jesus paid for our sins.
We were in debt to God and Jesus paid the debt and therefore God can now forgive us.
Is this true forgiveness... if the "debt" has been paid?
Is there anything left to forgive?
1. to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve.
2. to give up all claim on account of; remit (a debt, obligation, etc.).
3. to grant pardon to (a person).
4. to cease to feel resentment against: to forgive one's enemies.
5. to cancel an indebtedness or liability of: to forgive the interest owed on a loan.
To forgive means to cancel the debt not merely have it paid. If a debt has to be paid in order to be forgiven, then it's not really forgiveness.
If you owe me $100 and you or someone else gives me the $100 and I tell you that I now forgive you, you would think I am crazy. The debt was paid and there was nothing for me to forgive you for.
However, if I said, don't worry about the debt you owe me, i forgive you. That means I never expect the debt to be paid. It's done. There is nothing else for you to do.
Did a debt have to be paid in order for God to forgive? And if so, does God REALLY forgive us?