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A Big Mistake: Short on Forgiveness


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Nowhere is there more confusion within the church today than on the topic of forgiveness. I have written on this often and want to use one of those writings here.

Many Believers struggle with a key concept of Salvation- ALL our sins forgiven! The popular and traditional message of today is that Jesus died for your sins, but one must do more than ask for forgiveness to be Saved but also live a continuous life of constant repentance (change behavior) and continue to ask for forgiveness. Is this truth? I would emphatically argue NO!

Often, we ignore logic when studying Scripture. We focus on one or two portions of Scripture and hold tightest to them for our beliefs, even when confronted with contextual issues and evidence that dispels those beliefs. For the most part the notion of having to ask for forgiveness of our sins comes from one verse:

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

This is used as proof we must ask for forgiveness, not just at salvation, but constantly. The problem is that this was written to a group known as ‘Gnostics’ who denied having the issue of sin. Without acknowledging the problem of sin (separating us from God) you cannot accept the need for salvation, thus neither the Savior. This was not written to Christians! Secondly, notice it calls on us to ‘confess’ which simply means admit to or agree with. It does not convey any idea of having to ask for forgiveness. John was telling those who didn’t think sin was an issue that they needed to admit it was in order to be forgiven.

Another issue is the problem with one word used in the New Testament. The word is ‘repent’ and is used differently than had been in the Old Testament. When used in the New Testament by Jesus and others it is meant as to change the mind, change belief or thought. That is the type of repentance needed to understand our spiritual condition without Christ and to change our mind to one of needing Him. It would be the same principle if I were on a plane and was told we were going to crash. I could sit and do nothing because I choose not to believe we will crash, or I could ‘repent’ and take the position needed to best survive the crash (oh and pray!). Many still cling to the Old Testament definition which meant to be full of sorrow and change behavior. This is much like a child who gets caught taking a cookie. They will cry and beg for forgiveness. We must use caution on mixing Old Testament concepts with New Testament concepts.

So, how do we know we are forgiven for every sin? Well, we can simply look at one popular story in the Gospel of John. The same Gospel, ironically, that also records John the Baptist making this claim that states our theory plainly:

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29

Keep in mind, this is just one of many proofs we could discuss, but it should help the reader begin to explore this concept further. Let us begin at John 11. Jesus is ministering when word gets to him that someone He loves is very ill. To that Jesus gives this reply:

But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” John 11:29

Here is where logic is important. Jesus states that this ‘illness’ will not lead to death, but Lazarus will die. Jesus cannot lie so what gives? Could it be Jesus meant that Lazarus would not die permanently? Well, I do not think so. One, this would have discredited the miracle He would do and second, Lazarus would eventually die again- this time permanently (at least I have not heard he is out there today). So, we must conclude Jesus was not speaking of physical death. Jesus must have been speaking of spiritual death. That means the ‘illness’ can’t be referring to a physical illness. That, as well, must be spiritual. Now, what causes spiritual death? Romans 6:23 tells us that the ‘wages of sin is death.’ Sin is the illness that causes spiritual death.

Why, then, would Jesus say that Lazarus would not die spiritually from sin? Because Jesus was going to die for our sins. He was going to forgive everyone’s sin (including Lazarus’s) on the cross. We need to go back to another story Jesus told to get this. In John 10 Jesus talks about being the Good Shepherd:

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. John 10:7-11

Jesus makes a few important points in this story which is all about going against the Pharisees and their system of religion. He has just confronted them for His healing of a blind man on the Sabbath and He is making it clear that He is the One who has come to save the sheep (Israel). He will do so by laying down His life. Now, before that He mentions He is the ‘door.’ In those days, the sheep pen would have an opening without a gate like we have today. Instead, the shepherd would sit or lay there. It was the shepherd who was the ‘door.’ As such, he provided the MEANS for entrance AND DECIDED on who came and went. Jesus is saying that He is the WAY to God AND He will DECIDE on who He allows to go before God.

Back to our other story. A few days pass and Lazarus does die. Martha and Mary and even those around all question Jesus, but all state one thing that is characterized here- they believe Jesus could have saved Lazarus:

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” John 11:21-27

Don’t miss this! Jesus knew Lazarus was going to die, He alludes to the fact that He knows this is for a reason back in verse 29 when He says this was so God would be glorified. Now we need to focus on what Jesus talks about being important. What does Jesus stress to Martha (and others if you read the whole story)- BELIEF! Jesus states that believing in who He is changes everything. It is not asking for forgiveness. It is believing in Him.

Look at what Jesus said of Himself. “I am Resurrection!” Jesus is giving us the reason He has the ability and authority to be the ‘door’ to God. His death for our sins and His Resurrection is vital to backing up what He said back in John 10 and as a result all who believe in Him will be given… “and the life.” We will be given eternal life because of our belief. Life with God because our sins (those things that did separate us and kept us from God) HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN.

Jesus has informed us of what He came to do, what that meant, and that He had the ability and authority to do it. What must we do? Simply believe. Back to Lazarus. Jesus does bring him back to life, but here is the key. Lazarus is dead and unable to ask Jesus to forgive him, yet Jesus brings him back to life. This is a picture of what Jesus is about to do for all of us. Jesus has ‘set this up’ to demonstrate His grace. Jesus is declaring in the boldest of ways that the New Covenant is coming, and it will be more wonderful than anyone can imagine. So wonderful we must remember the rest of Romans 6:23:

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom 6:23

Jesus, the Lamb of God, came to take away the sins of the world. Not just the ones we committed before we were Saved, nor just the ones we ask for forgiveness from. NO! He took them ALL! Every sin, from every person, over every second of the world from Adam until now and beyond now. Jesus even died for every sin you will still commit. Every sin paid for and forgiven for! That is grace my friend. Our Salvation is, indeed, a gift, a gift we should all be so grateful for.

Are you grateful for forgiveness or is the enemy using false teaching to demoralize you and keep you living in fear? Do you often feel you have gone too far, and God won’t forgive you? Study this more and find the truth… You are ALREADY FORGIVEN- now go live it out in joy and devotion to Him who loved you that much.

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