Hi there, good mornin to you my friend.
This post was written especially to help the religious Christian understand God’s forgiveness a little more clearly. However I believe that anyone who reads this information can be helped by it.
1. For starters, let’s consider that one of the most-vital distinctions to be understood in scripture, is whether or not a passage was directed at an old covenant audience or a new covenant audience, (and what is its context).
Here’s a prime example of what I’m talking about.
Consider the meaning of the following two verses please:
(pre cross) Matthew 6.15
“But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.“
(post cross) Ephesians 4.32
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.“
Did you see the difference in those two verses? Did you see how they have opposite meanings? Did you see how the old covenant verse demonstrated the impossibility of our measuring up to its standards? Thus driving us to cling to justification as a free gift by grace through faith?
That pre cross verse is law-based, and makes God’s forgiveness of someone dependant on whether or not they forgive others.
While the post-cross verse is grace -based, and communicates the opposite message. In that post cross verse, we’re taught that since God has forgiven us Christians, then we should do the right thing and forgive others just as we have been forgiven.
That’s a huge difference in meaning, and it’s a perfect example of why we are to never to mix law and grace.
2. And here’s another distinction about forgiveness that we need to understand. Below is a very beautiful message of hope in scripture, (that’s often perverted in evangelism):
“God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them“
I’ve heard that passage taught to mean that because of Christ’s sacrifice, everyone has been forgiven of all their sins, (except for unbelief in Christ).
But that is a false teaching about forgiveness from God.
Here’s that beautiful verse in context:
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ‘s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.“
What that section of scripture is saying, is that God is lavishly offering salvation in Christ to everyone, (forgiveness, relationship, eternal life, righteousness, new nature, new identity, etc).
So please don’t disregard this magnanimous gift from God that He’s offering to you.
Those verses aren’t saying that unsaved people who reject Christ have their sins forgiven. (It doesn’t work that way).
3. Here’s the proof that people receive forgiveness of their sins only after they have believed on the risen Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour:
“To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.“
“To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.“
4. But the good news is, when a sinner believes on the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour and becomes born again, they receive comprehensive forgiveness from God for all of their sins. (God doesn’t issue out ongoing forgiveness to Christians a little at a time as we sin). That’s because God only forgives our sins by Jesus’ shed-blood. (And Jesus isn’t continually bleeding to provide incremental forgiveness of a Christian’s sins).
Look in scripture for the truth:
“And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.“
“And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,“
So here’s the comprehensive forgiveness from God in scripture.
Believe it and embrace it:
“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;“
“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;“
“But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;“
5. And like any gift, the gift of forgiveness can be abused. Romans chapter 6 deals with this subject of the Christian’s conduct in regard to sinful behavior, (you can click here to read Romans chapter 6). Similarly, the Christian will be chastened and rebuked by God when He deems it necessary to do so, (which you can read about here in Hebrews chapter 12).
[But understand please that His chastening us is not to be confused with “punishment.” Because the “punishment” for our sins was fully poured out on Jesus at the cross. So to believe that God will “punish” His children in any way for their sins, reflects a faulty understanding of what Jesus’ sin atonement accomplished on our behalf; Jesus bore all of our punishment from God].
• Moreover, we all abuse this precious gift of forgiveness from God to one extent or another, and it grieves us Christians (and God) when we do so unabated. So it’s in our best-interest to live in a way that is pleasing to God.
• We should pray to God for His help in tearing down strongholds that we allow to creep into our lives from time to time. And even though God isn’t dispensing additional blood from Jesus to grant us Christians ongoing sin forgiveness, it’s good & right for us to be contrite and repentant toward God when his Spirit prompts us that we are grieving the Holy Spirit.
Our lives should be reflecting the Lord Jesus Christ Who lives inside of us, (we shouldn’t look like the sinful world). That way that our lives can be honoring & useful to the kingdom of God.
So, I hope that that what I’ve presented here has helped you to understand God’s forgiveness a little better. His forgiveness is complete, and it’s totally free to you when you place your trust solely in the finished redemptive work of Christ.
All glory to the risen Lord Jesus Christ! And no glory to us whatsoever!