8 Important Things to Understand and Remember about God's Forgiveness
- Meg Bucher Writer and Author
- 2020 1 May
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” -Psalm 139:23-24, ESV
God is the Author of the human spirit. God’s forgiveness has a weighty gravity to it because He knows the “number of hairs on our heads;” He “formed us in the womb.” There’s no escaping our humanity, our frailty, and our sin. We were created to lean on God through His Son, Jesus Christ. His sacrificial death on the cross granted us God’s forgiveness, bringing us into fellowship with our Father. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit pricks every believer with conviction to confess and repent sin. Our Father, because of the perfect sacrifice Christ made in our honor, is faithful to forgive us. The Apostle Peter wrote, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” (1 Peter 3:18, ESV). God’s forgiveness gives us life, to the full (John 10:10).
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What Does the Bible Say about God's Forgiveness?
“Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” Micah 7:18-19, ESV
Jesus Christ brought God’s plan for forgiveness to completion on the cross. No Old Testament Sacrifice or set of religious rules could be followed in accordance worthy enough of the holiness of God. The entirety of Scripture points to the Messiah Christ, and His saving act on account of humanity. Acts 2:38 says, “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (ESV) The new life we receive in Christ stems from the forgiveness of our sins. He made a way for us to stand in the presence of God, even though we remain susceptible to sin every day of our lives.
“If you don’t cherish your justification, your forgiveness, and your eternal life because they get you to God,” writes John Piper for desiringGod.org, “you need to deal with him more deeply.”
God didn’t have to forgive us. He chose to. From the beginning, God knew what tomorrow would bring. Jesus came to save us from the curse of sin we cannot release ourselves from. Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,” (Ephesians 1:7, ESV). God’s forgiveness is a product of His grace. He has been gracious to forgive us, and He expects us to pay it forward. When we truly grasp the sacrifice Jesus made, and the love God has to forgive us, our genuine faith is illustrated in the way we forgive ourselves and each other.
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Here Are 8 Things to Remember about God's Forgiveness:
1. Forgiveness Has Always Been God’s Plan
“For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.” Psalm 86:5, ESV
Forgiveness has always been God’s plan. God pronounced the whole of His creation, “very good.” Jesus came to save all. He leaves the 99 sheep to go after one. The gospel will circulate the earth until every ear has had a chance to hear. “From the moment Adam and Eve left Eden, God has not been content to leave his people in exile, corrupt and condemned,” writes Scott Hubbard, Editor for desiringGod.org. The plan was always Jesus, the only Son of God, to come to earth and sacrifice His spotless life for the forgiveness of our sins.
God knows we are prone to wander and incapable of living without sin. Yet still, He says, “I, I am he who blots out your transgression for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. Put me in remembrance; let us argue together; set for your case, that you may be proved right” (Isaiah 43:25-26, ESV).
“From a spiritual perspective, we were all born with a sin problem, eternally separated from God,” writes Brent Rinehart, “We’d be lost forever without Him intervening and offering us forgiveness.”
2. God’s Forgiveness Is a Gift
“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah 55:6-7 ESV
God’s forgiveness is a gift. “All of us are worse than we think,” writes Professor Joe Rigney for desiringGod.org, “Our hearts really are slimy. When you look in there, it’s true that there is a depth upon depth of self-love and sin.” God knows the depths of our hearts: our intentions, grudges, and our hidden and suppressed sin. “When we live by faith in future grace, rooted in God’s forgiveness,” John Piper writes, “we are freed from the lingering, paralyzing effects even of the shame we deserve to feel. That’s what forgiveness means.” He is not only faithful to forgive us of the sin we see and confess, but also intentional to move our hearts to see other areas of our lives where sin is sabotaging our freedom in Christ. Paul wrote to the Colossians, “bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive” (Colossians 3:13, ESV).
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3. It’s Our Choice to Accept God’s Gift of Forgiveness
“for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26:28, ESV
God does not force us to acknowledge or confess our sins, nor to believe in Jesus Christ and the life He came to give us. The covenant of the Old Testament required various sacrifices. The new covenant we live under now is covered by the blood of the “spotless lamb,” Jesus Christ. The long-awaited Messiah, expected to be a military leader coming to conquer the enemies of God’s chosen people, instead died a brutal death on the cross to save the entire world. “The God we meet in Scripture does not hoard his forgiveness like a miser with his money,” writes Scott Hubbard, Editor for desiringGod.org, “With God, there is forgiveness (Psalm 130:4)- and not out of reluctance or necessity, but out of the overflow of his broad heart.” We don’t have to make sacrifices like the people of the Old Testament times did. But we do need to believe, accept, and confess our sinfulness, on the daily.
4. God’s Forgiveness Cannot Be Lost
“And he said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’” Luke 7:48, ESV
Once Jesus forgave the women at the well, she was forever forgiven. We come to God daily to confess the curse of sin we live under. We all fall short (Romans 3:23), continually. But we needn’t re-confess sins God has already pardoned. “When you come before God today in the moments after committing some sin, you do not need to stumble through the forests of guilt and self-reproach,” writes Scott Hubbard, Editor for desiringGod.org, “Confess your sin, turn to Jesus, and run in the fields of his forgiveness.” We confess, repent, and continue on working for the Kingdom of God. Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” (Ephesians 1:7, ESV) In Christ, we live a redeemed life. Jesus once and forever paid the price of our sins.
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5. Why Must We Confess Our Sins?
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9, ESV
When we sin, our connection with God starts to cut out like a bad wifi signal. When we confess our sin, God, true to His promise to forgive and restore us, repairs the signal. He, alone, can rightly diagnose the source of the bad connection, and prescribe the proper repair. “Self-examination is only safe when God’s hands are on the reins.”( Professor Joe Rigney, ) He restores the connection and eliminates the spinning wheel signaling us to wait while things buffer. “Our attempts to exude our sin might be understandable if we had a harsh Lord, but such is not our Lord Jesus Christ,” writes Scott Hubbard. There is no need to be afraid of God when we come to Him with a healthy fear of who He is. Jeremiah 31:34 reminds, “And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (ESV).
6. The Importance of Repentance in Light of God’s Forgiveness
“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,”Acts 3:19, ESV
The NIV Study Bible explains, repentance is a change of mind and will arise from sorrow over sin, leading to the transformation of one's life. God draws us to Him, and our confession of sin is transparent to God. He knows our hearts. Every intention, and justification, remains attached to our confession. Acts 10:43 says, “To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (ESV). God doesn’t just want us to religiously obey the act of confessing our sins, He wants us to change. Day by day, we are being sanctified … made more like Christ. “Faith in God’s forgiveness does not merely mean a persuasion that I am off the hook,” writes John Piper, “It means savoring the truth that a forgiving God is the most precious reality in the universe.”
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7. Hope and Peace in Christ Is Rooted in God’s Forgiveness
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV
For those of us in Christ, we have a hope and a peace that cannot be snatched away. In Him, we find the freedom to shed our sins daily, and remember the peace and hope that spur us on to do the work of God’s Kingdom, here on earth. “He hung there on the cross, pouring out the kindness of his forgiven heart from the wounds we created,” writes Scott Hubbard, Editor for desiringGod.org. When we truly understand and embrace the gravity of God’s grace and the selflessness of Christ’s sacrifice, we are changed. “We need to know sin is in our hearts, and we need to feel the ugliness of it,” writes Professor Joe Rigney, "But then we must also remember that Jesus covers all of it.”
8. God’s Forgiveness Is Reciprocal
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32, ESV
Scrolling through the feeds of our social media accounts, we see bitterness, wrath, anger, and slander. In Christ, we choose to put them away. We choose not to participate, outside of obedience in defense of righteousness, especially on account of the oppressed. But brother to brother, sister to sister in Christ, we are to put them down, willingly. “God stands ready and willing to forgive,” writes Brent Rinehart, “but asks that we extend the same forgiveness to others first.” We are forgiven for the parts of our hearts no other human knows anything about. The disturbing defaults our thoughts run to and our innate selfishness that attempts to take over, constantly. “Forgiving others shows we have faith; we are united to Christ; we are indwelt by the gracious, humbling Holy Spirit,” writes John Piper.
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A Prayer to Remember God’s Forgiveness
All glory and honor to Your name, our lives are meant to bring. Make known our purpose, and reveal our sins, Father. Jesus, thank You for Your sacrifice on the cross. You willingly put on skin for us and suffered immeasurably to save us. Help us to come to You freely with our sins, and obediently repent from them. Move our hearts, cleanse us from our hidden sins, and transform us into the people we were purposed to be. May we leave behind us, a wake of forgiveness.
In Jesus’ powerful name we pray, amen.
God’s forgiveness is the story of our salvation. From the beginning of time, in the first pages of Scripture, God called us “very good,” and had a plan in place to save us. Not on account of what we could ever do or accomplish, but of who He is and what He would do. We are His. This curse of sin won’t last forever. Jesus has already defeated death, the curtain has been torn, and we have been forgiven. For all who declare Jesus as Savior and confess their sin, eternity awaits. The countdown has begun. Jesus will return. Come, Lord Jesus, come.
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