Forgiveness Our Desperate Need

 

Forgiveness

Our Desperate Need

One time there was a slave who owed his king 10,000 talents.  A talent was what a laborer earned in more than 15 years, or about $375,000.  This means that the slave owed nearly $4 billion dollars in our money—an incredible amount!  Utterly unable to pay this amount, the slave begged for mercy.  Jesus gave this story and then added, “The lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt” (Matthew 18:27).  You and I are like that debtor.  We are guilty of a vast amount of sin—more than we might imagine!  We desperately need God’s forgiveness.

It has been said that the most wonderful word in the world is forgiveness.  While other terms are also blessed, it does point up the desperate need each of us has because of our personal sin—and the blessedness of God’s forgiveness.  Most of us don’t really understand the absolute necessity of forgiveness if we want to enter heaven—and we don’t understand how to receive this priceless gift from the Lord.

The greatest enemy of our soul is Sin.  Sin is universal, for God has plainly said, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  If you sinned only three times a day, you would accumulate about 1,000 sins a year.  If you lived for ten years, you would be guilty of 10,000 sins!  And surely most of us sin much more frequently than this.  The entire soul of one who is unforgiven is covered with sin—much of which he may not be aware.  Remember also that we sin in every thought that is displeasing to God; we sin in every word that is foolish, hateful, or selfish; and we sin in every deed—whether it is failing to do what we should do or doing what we should not do.  Indeed, we are deeply guilty before a God who is perfect in His holiness!

Not only have we all sinned, but the results of sin are catastrophic: “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).  The Bible says that “the wrath [righteous anger] of God is revealed from heaven” against all forms of sin.  Those who sin and remain in sin must face the dreadful wrath of Almighty God!  One person confessed, “My iniquities [sins] are gone over my head; as a heavy burden they weigh too much for me” (Psalm 38:4).  Yes, our sins are a “heavy burden” that will send us to hell forever—unless we can be forgiven. 

Jesus said to certain ones in His day, “You will die in your sins” (John 8:24).  If we die with unforgiven sin, we must face the eternal God and be judged for those sins.  Scripture says, “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” for “our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 10:31; 12:29).  If one dies with unforgiven sin, he must be consigned to a place described as “the lake of fire,” “eternal punishment,” or simply “hell” (Revelation 21:8; Matthew 25:41,46; Matthew 5:29-30).

The good news is that none of us must die in our sins and face the judgment of God.  God, in His love and mercy, gave His dear Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our countless sins, offenses, transgressions, and wrongs.  “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).  “At the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6).  The Bible says that “Christ died for our sins” and “by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone” (1 Corinthians 15:3; Hebrews 2:9).  After Jesus died, God raised Him from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:4-20) and now “He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him” (Hebrews 7:25).  This means that you do not need to be weighted down with the guilt of your sins—for God is able to forgive you of every one of them through Jesus Christ, His Son!

This is the problem, however: While Jesus died for our sins so that we need not die and go to hell for the guilt of those sins, there is something that you and I must do!  That is, forgiveness is conditional.  It is not automatic and it is not simple.  Some people think that if they just are “sorry” for their sins or just say, “God, please forgive me,” then they are forgiven—and can go into heaven.  How false this is!  How deceived many people are.  You may ask, “Then how can I be forgiven of my sins and enter heaven?”  There are two answers that can be given—depending on what category you are in.  Everyone must pass through the first category before they can enter the second one.  Consider the first one.

To be Forgiven of Your Sins. . .

You must Repent of your sins.  Peter declared, “Repent . . . for the forgiveness of your sins. . . . Repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away” (Acts 2:38; 3:19).  Through Jesus Christ, God grants repentance and forgiveness of sins (5:31; cf. Luke 24:47).  What is repentance?  This word means a change of heart and mind.  It means that you must be sorry for your many sins, that you must determine to turn from those sins, and that you must purpose to live a life of freedom from those sins.  You must determine to live for God and order your life according to His Will revealed in His perfect Word, the Bible.  You must repent to be forgiven by God!

You must forsake your sins and determine to live to please God and do His will.  The Bible says, “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion” (Proverbs 28:13).  We also read, “They should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance” (Acts 26:20).  This means that if one has stolen money, he needs to begin living an honorable life.  If he has committed unmarried sex (fornication), he must begin to live a pure and undefiled life.  If he has committed adultery, he must begin to be faithful to his wife.  If he has used profanity and swear words, he must begin to use pure and clean speech.  If he has lied, he must begin to speak the truth.  If he has listened to worldly music and watched sinful television programs or movies, he must begin to live a radically different life that has Christ at its center.  God says that when one is forgiven (or saved), “he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

You must Believe in God and in Jesus Christ, His Son.  In order to be forgiven of your sins, you must place your faith in Christ Jesus.  You must look away from yourself and rely upon God to forgive you through Jesus.  “Everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins” (Acts 20:43).  Paul said to one person needing the forgiveness of God: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).  We too may be forgiven or saved from sin by believing in the living God and placing all of our faith and trust in Jesus Christ who died for us and now lives for us.

You must be baptized into Jesus Christ.  When one repents of his sins, forsakes those sins, and places all of his faith and reliance on Jesus Christ and His death, he must express this faith by being baptized.  This may surprise you, but Peter said, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38; cf. Mark 1:4).  When we are “buried with [Christ] in baptism” and “raised up with Him through faith in the working of God,” we experience “the circumcision of Christ” that brings “the removal of the body of the flesh” (Colossians 2:11-12).  Then we read, “He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions [sins]” (v. 13).  Because we come to Christ for His forgiveness of our sins in this manner, we can understand the urgent words of Ananias: “Why do you delay?  Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name” (Acts 22:16; cf. 1 Corinthians 6:11).

To be Forgiven of Your Sins. . . .

When you come to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins (as described above), you become a child of God and are a new person in the Lord Jesus!  Through Christ, you have the “purification” or forgiveness of your “former sins” (2 Peter 1:9).  But what if you sin after you are initially saved from sin?  Is there any hope for you?  Yes, we may be forgiven of the sins that we may commit after our initial forgiveness at the point of our salvation!  “If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation [satisfaction] for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2).  Continuing forgiveness is available for us!

You must repent of your sins.  Just as the alien sinner must repent of his sins, you also need to repent of your sins.  If you fail the Lord by inadvertently sinning, you must express sorrow for that sin and repent (have a change of heart) of that sin.  To one who was guilty of a dreadful sin, Peter declared, “Repent of this wickedness of yours” (Acts 8:22).  Frequently, in Revelation 2 and 3, the Lord Jesus tells His people to “repent” of their sins (2:16,22; 3:3).  For example, Jesus says, “Be zealous and repent” (3:19).  Again, “Repent and do the deeds you did at first” (2:5).  You must repent of each sin you become aware of after you become a true Christian.

You must confess your sins to God.  Not only must you have an inner repentance in your heart, but you must also openly confess your sin to God: “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).  Be willing to humble yourself and acknowledge each of your wrongdoings to God your Father.  If you lie, confess it to God.  If you speak something wrongly, confess it to God.  If you are overcome with sinful anger, confess this to God.  If you are lazy, careless, selfish, greedy, lustful, resentful, or dishonest, confess this to God.  Do not hide it for it will be revealed in Judgment.

You must turn from your sin.  Not only must you have a different attitude toward the sin and confess it to God, but you also must actually turn from the sin and begin to live differently.  The Christian life is one that involves “laying aside” those sins that continue to beset you and “putting on” the qualities and good deeds that should be part of our new life in the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:20-32; Galatians 5:19-26; Romans 8:13).  Notice this promise: “If we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).  The blood (the death) of Jesus continues to “cleanse” and forgive us after we are initially saved—if we are willing to “walk in the light” of God and His Word.

You must forgive others.  Many overlook this requirement, but Jesus tells us that if we fail to forgive others who sin against us, we cannot be forgiven ourselves.  He said, “If you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (Matthew 6:14-15).  A person once commented, “I will never forgive that man!”  His friend replied, “Then I hope you never sin yourself, for you cannot be forgiven!”  Jesus commands, “If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.  And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him” (Luke 17:3-4).  You must forgive those who sin against you—those who return in repentance and confess it to you.  You must forgive others, “just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).

Forgiveness Can be Yours!

Isn’t God filled with mercy and grace!  In love, He provided for our forgiveness—whether we have never come to Jesus for salvation or whether we have already come to Him but inadvertently sin.  Yet there is a very severe warning: If we have come to Christ and then deliberately and knowingly fall into sin and stay in a state of sin, and refuse to repent and confess that sin, we face a dreadful prospect: “If we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. . . . It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:26-27, 31).  Do not take God’s forgiveness for granted.  Be willing to repent and turn in faith to Him for His cleansing through Jesus Christ—today! 

Richard Hollerman

 

 

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