In the first installment of our Forgiveness series, we are going to take a look at God’s forgiveness for us. For the believer, it’s the most important aspect of our walk because we long to be reconciled to our Creator and often feel deep sorrow and regret when we think of the sins that we have committed.
I know, for me personally, when I pick up the Bible and do extensive readings, I often find just how far short I really am when it comes to hitting the mark. I believe it’s designed that way to keep our focus on Jesus.
So, what does the Bible say about God’s forgiveness? Let’s take a look.
Doing Our Part
As we read through both the Old and New Testaments, we can find a repeating theme of God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness. He longs to be with us and have that relationship that He created for us to have with Him.
While Jesus took all of our sins upon Himself at Calvary, we do need to wake up to the fact that we desperately need to continue to examine ourselves on a daily basis and ask God to show us how to walk more closely with Him.
As we seek to be more like Jesus we will naturally sin less and less, and the “deliberate” sins will become easier to overcome, become a thing of the past, and become part of our testimony when we share with the world of who we once were and what God has done in our lives.
One of the biggest issues we have in our world today is that we see a whole bunch of people who are walking around calling themselves “Christians”, yet look nothing like Jesus. It’s the number one reason people give for not wanting to visit a church. I was one of these people for many years, as you can read about in my testimony.
But many believe that because they said a prayer one time in their life and can quote John 3:16 that all is well and they don’t need to seek God’s forgiveness for the sins that they are still plaguing their life.
Have you ever met a perfect Christian?…Neither have I.
We desperately need God’s forgiveness for our sins. We completely miss the mark in every way when we compare ourselves and our “righteousness” to that of God’s perfect, and holy nature. Jesus emphasizes this when He is giving the sermon on the mount.
He addresses the people who think that keeping “the law” is simply about not breaking the rules. He says that even “looking at a woman with lustful intent is the same as committing adultery,” and that “remaining angry with someone is the same as murder”. (Matthew 5:27, 22)
Bottom line: It doesn’t need to be the physical act for it to be a sin in God’s eyes. For the Lord, looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)
The Good News for us is that the Bible tells the redemption story for all of mankind who choose to follow God’s plan for salvation, that is, through His Son, Jesus. That includes the forgiveness of every sin we have ever committed or ever will commit.
But we still need to do our part.
“But grace is free and it’s not about works!” Ever hear someone say that? They are absolutely right.
Grace, forgiveness, and salvation are a free and priceless gift that we do not deserve, yet God freely gives it…to those who seek it. It’s not about works. It’s not about a ritualistic apology session. It’s about coming to God, our Father, and having a one on one sit down with Him.
So what is our part?
The first thing we need to do is examine ourselves.
“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you– unless indeed you fail the test?” ~ 2 Corinthians 13:5 NASB ~
We should examine the areas in our life that need work.
- How was our language this week?
- Did we fly off the handle at work?
- How about that juicy secret our friend trusted us to keep to our self?
- Did we participate in that dirty joke?
It’s not about being perfect. We will never get there. It is, however, about allowing the Holy Spirit to “perfect” us so that we can be a light in this dark world.
“I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”; And You forgave the guilt of my sin.” ~ Psalm 32:5 NASB ~
Before our head hits that pillow at night we should have a conversation with God. We need to be truly honest with our self and surely be honest with Him! There is nothing hidden from Him. He is all knowing. We need to confess our shortcomings to Him and ask God to help you in the areas of your life that you are struggling with.
We get this strange idea that struggling is a bad thing, or that struggling in and of itself is a sin. On the contrary, struggling is a GOOD thing, because it’s evidence that God’s working in you and Satan isn’t happy about it. It’s important to struggle and seek for God’s wisdom on how to overcome areas that need work.
If you aren’t struggling with something in your life, even if it’s a minor struggle, you need to go back and truly examine yourself. Spend time in the Bible, take it to prayer and ask God to identify areas in our life that He’s wanting to work on.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” ~ 1 John 1:9 NASB ~
This is one of my favorite passages in the Bible. It shows God’s promise, His faithfulness, and His restoration! We need to stop holding on to it and confess it to Him. Let it go!
“I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” ~ Luke 13:3 NASB ~
Finally, we come to the big one.
- Want me to examine myself? Sure, no problem. I could use work in a few areas.
- Want me to confess it to God? Absolutely! I’ll ask for His forgiveness, no problem.
- Want me to repent? Hold the phone…we have a problem.
This is where the battle really takes place. It’s where the rubber meets the road and we finally make the decision to let go or at least engage in the battle with our struggles.
It’s where we determine that Jesus is more important than my “thing”. My pleasure, my “precious”. (For the Lord of the Rings fans) You know what I’m talking about.
- If Jesus were to have a look at our search history, (including incognito mode) would He find that we are fighting the good fight or holding on to that secret sin?
- If Jesus were to be hanging out at the water cooler would He find us engaging in that juicy gossip, or trying to abstain and using words of encouragement instead?
This is where we take up our cross, follow Jesus, and leave the rest behind. It’s the biggest test for all of us who call ourselves disciples.
I used to go to church with a military veteran. We were talking about repentance one day and he said, “You’ve heard of the term ‘about face’. Well, back when I was in the service we didn’t say ‘about face’. We said ‘Repent’! Because that’s what it means to repent. To do a complete 180 and go in the opposite direction.”
We need to start looking at our sin in the same way. We need to start doing a 180-degree turn and go in the opposite direction. We need to make the decision to fight against our sin nature and all that it desires.
We could spend a lot of time on the topic of repentance alone, and we will in the future. But the focus today is God’s forgiveness. We just need to realize that repentance is critical. I read a quote on Facebook this week that really puts our deliberate sins into a strong perspective.
“A mistake repeated more than once is a decision.”
We really need to let that sink in for a minute.
I’m simply going to close with just a few verses about God’s love, compassion, grace, and forgiveness.
If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared. ~ Psalm 130:3-4 NASB ~
“Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.” ~ Acts 10:43 NASB ~
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. ~ Ephesians 1:7-8 NASB ~
For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. ~ Colossians 1:13-14 NASB ~
What has God shown you about His forgiveness? Start or join in the discussion in the comment section below. Have a great day!