Forgiveness

 

I donít care who you are, every accountable person is in need of forgiveness because as Paul said:

 

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

 

Our sins separates us from God and without a savior, we would all be lost.

  • Think about how it would be to not have a forgiving God
  • We would have to be perfect like Jesus, which we cannot be
  • We would have no hope, we would all have to face the pits of hell.
  • If we did not have a forgiving God, we would not be forgiving ourselves

 

Thankfully we have God that forgives because He loves and He made this possible through His Son.

 

  • Think about how much love God has for us even though we do not deserve His love or forgiveness.
  • He gave us his only begotten Son

 

2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.

 

Jesus agreed to do this for us even though He knew we were full of sin.

 

Romans 5:6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

 

If God were like some of us, He would have been selfish and kept His forgiveness to Himself, but thankful He did not.

 

Not only does God forgive us of our sins, He forgets the sin.

 

Hebrews 8:10 "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.11 "None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.12 "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."

 

This was prophesied by Jeremiah about the new covenant. It teaches us that once God forgives your sins, He forgets them. You will never be harassed about your past mistakes you will only be held accountable for those things you have not been forgiven of.

 

Some have the idea that when Jesus died on the cross and shed His blood that everyone was forgiven of their sins, but this is not the case because we have to accept that forgiveness. I want you to notice the great sermon that was spoken on the day of Pentecost at the birth of the church.

 

Acts 2:14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words.15 "For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.16 "But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:17 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.19 I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.21 And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved.'

 

The Holy Spirit had been poured out on the apostles and they were speaking in different languages, and some there accused them of being drunk when they were not. They explained that Joelís prophecy was being fulfilled because the Spirit had been poured on them. Joel said that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. We will see in just a minute that it takes more than just a verbal plea to call on the name of the Lord.

 

Acts 2:22 " Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know --23 "Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;24 "whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.25 "For David says concerning Him: 'I foresaw the LORD always before my face, For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken.26 Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope.27 For You will not leave my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.28 You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of joy in Your presence.'29 "Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.30 "Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne,31 "he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.32 "This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.33 "Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.34 "For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: 'The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand,35 Till I make Your enemies Your footstool." '36 "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."

 

The key points made are:

  • Jesus proved that He was the Son of God by the miracles and signs He did.
  • His death, burial and resurrection were part of Godís plan of salvation.
  • David was talking about the Messiah.
  • Jesus body saw no corruption because He was raised from the dead.
  • The apostles were eyewitnesses of Jesus being raised from dead.
  • The outpouring of the Holy Spirit proves that Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God.
  • These Jews had killed their Savior.

 

Next we find out what is involved in calling on the name of the Lord and how we receive the forgiveness of sin.

 

Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"

 

Many of the Jews had realized what they had done to their Savior and to their God, so they were moved be this speech and they wanted to know what they must do to be saved. Now if all they had to do was call on the name of the Lord or just accept Jesus into their heart Peter would have told them to do this, but he did not. Instead his response is recorded in the next verse:

 

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.39 "For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call."40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation."41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.

 

Peter couldnít make it any clearer on how these Jews could receive the forgiveness of their sins. He told them to repent and to be baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins. Of course we learn in other parts of the Bible that they had to believe that Jesus was the Son of God (Jn. 3:16) and they had to confess Jesus as their Lord (Rom. 10:9-10). We can see that about 3000 people decided to accept the forgiveness that God offers by obeying the gospel call. Please note that the forgiveness of sins did not occur until they were baptized. Which is why Peter says later:

 

1 Peter 3:21 There is also an antitype which now saves us -- baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

 

When we are forgiven of our past sins, they are wiped away, but this does not mean that we can no longer sin, but we do have power over sin when we become Christians. What is wonderful about Godís forgiveness is that is not a one time deal. Once we become a child of God by obeying the gospel, God will continue to forgive us of our future sins, but this is not done unconditionally.

 

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

 

Thankfully we do not have to be re-baptized every time we sin because sometimes that would mean we would have to be dunked 2 or 3 times a day. Once we become a child of God and we grow in our knowledge of Godís Word and see sin in our life, we must repent of it, stop doing it, and confess it to God. When we do this, we can have confidence that God has forgiven and forgotten it.

 

A great example of this is given to us in the parable of the Prodigal son. He knew what his fatherís house was like and he had everything he needed, but he decided to leave and do things his own way. His father allowed him to have his inheritance and allowed him to go on his own just like God will allow us to leave the church and go into the world because He does not force us to do anything against our will.

 

The young man lived it up, and had worldly friends as long as the money was there, but after he had wasted all his money on prodigal living, his friends left him and he was all alone, miserable, and empty with nothing but some pigs to keep him company. He had no food and he had no hope until he remembered his fatherís house. This same thing happens to Christians today who leave the church and the blessing of God and choose to go back to the world to live it up and partake of the pleasures of sin. While engaging in sinfulness might seem fun at first eventually most realize how empty their lives are without God and they remember Him.

 

Even though the Prodigal son knew he did not deserve the forgiveness of His father he decided to go back and ask to be a hired servant so that he would at least be close to his father and have food for his belly. When we leave the Lord, and we want to come back to God it is hard for us and we donít feel like we deserve the forgiveness of God, but we need to remember how loving our God is and how much He wants us to repent.

 

When the Prodigal son was on his way back home his Father was looking for him to come back because he ran and met him as we read in:

 

Luke 15:20 "And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.21 "And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.'22 "But the father said to his servants, 'Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.23 'And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry;24 'for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' And they began to be merry.

 

Our Father in heaven is just like the Father in this Parable. While He will allow us to turn our back on Him, He never gives us on us. He patiently waits for us to return to Him and if we humble ourselves before God and repent like this Prodigal son, God will have compassion and He will forgive us of our sins, and we can be reconciled with God and there will be great rejoicing in heaven when we choose to come back to God.

 

We must remember that true repentance means that we change. For example, if we were involved in an adulterous relationship we must end that relationship. If we were stealing we must steal no more and the list could go on and on. We learn from this example that we must accept Godís forgiveness by repenting and confessing our sins to the Lord. We should thank God in our prayers everyday for the forgiveness He offers us.

 

We must learn from the example God has given us in forgiveness and use it in our own lives when it comes to forgiving others.

 

Matthew 6:14 "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.15 "But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

 

We must learn to forgive those who sin against when they repent. While it is much harder for us to forget what they have done, we must do our best to forgive and forget. Just as God is ready to forgive those who repent, we must have this same forgiving spirit toward those who sin against. We should never harbor a grudge against someone because all it will do is eat us up inside, but just like God, we should not forgive people until they repent because when we offer our forgiveness to them, they are reconciled with us. If we offer our forgiveness unconditionally not only are we doing something God doesnít do, we are not rebuking that person as Jesus tells us to do in:

 

Luke 17:3 "Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.4 "And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, 'I repent,' you shall forgive him."

 

Forgiving someone can be very difficult at times especially if that same person sins against us many times, but Jesus says if they continue to repent of what they have done then we must forgive them. The apostles didnít think this was any saying either because in the next verse they said:

 

Luke 17:5 And the apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith."

 

One thing that can help us to learn to be more forgiving is to look at our own life and realize that we are far from being perfect. If we sit down are start counting how many times we have sinned against God, it will not take long for us to run out of fingers and toes.

 

If God can forgive us for our past and the sins we commit sometimes on a daily basis, then we must learn to forgive those who repent. When we can get to the point in our lives were we have a forgiving spirit and we can offer our forgiveness to those who wrong us when they repent, our lives we be so much better and we can even learn to rejoice when our loved ones, friends or neighbors repent.

 

In conclusion, I hope this lesson has reminded you of how much we should appreciate God and how He loved us enough to give us His only Son to die on the cross so that we could have forgiveness of our sins. I hope you have learned that in order to accept His forgiveness we must obey the gospel and that our sins are forgiven at that point of being baptized into Christ for the remission of our sins. I hope you have learned that God does not forgive our sins unconditionally even after we become a child of God because we must walk in the light and repent and confess our sins to God. Finally I hope you have learned how important is that we follow Godís example and have forgiving spirit and be ready offer our forgiveness to those who repent.