Monday, August 13, 2007

Day 51 - Forgiven

I was prompted to do a search for the word forgiven yesterday, and was blessed by the results. There are seven main passages I came across in the New Testament that deal with being forgiven - the first two showing Jesus offering forgiveness to repentant sinners who trust Him by faith, and the remaining five are wonderful promises of assurance. (There are more passages in the NT with this term, but they dealt with either not being forgiven, warnings about the need for forgiveness, or requirements for it.)

1) Matthew 9:2 And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.

This story of Jesus' miracle of healing and the forgiveness of the paralytic is told in the first three Gospels. We see that both the crippled man and his friends that brought him to Jesus all believed that Jesus could heal this man. And Jesus did heal him - however, He first and foremost focussed on the spiritual healing that was needed, and the physical healing was secondary.

Matthew 9:5-8 For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house. But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.

1 Peter 2:24-25 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

It is only God Himself that has the authority AND power to forgive our sins - our sins which are against Him. This is another proof of the Deity of Christ and the truth of the Trinity. Have you trusted the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, believing in your heart that His death upon the cross was for your sins, that He was buried, and that He literally, physical arose after three days and three nights in the grave? If you have sincerely repented of your sins and trusted the Saviour to save you, then I believe that this word describes you too:

FORGIVEN!

What a wonderful word to hear, to know, to experience in your own life!

2) Luke 7:47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.

This is the story of the woman who broke the alabaster box over Jesus' feet. She did this out of gratitude for the salvation the Lord offered her - even with her dark past, her sinful past, with the blackened record of sin on her account.

Jesus used this parable to illustrate how we are all sinners in need of His mercy and grace, in need of His forgiveness:

Luke 7:40-43 And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.

It doesn't matter whether you are a small sinner (with only 50 sins - in your life altogether, or each day...), or a great sinner (with 500 sins) - you are still a sinner in need of a Saviour!

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

But praise the Lord - whether our sins are big or small, whether they are many or few, there is forgiveness available. As the wonderful hymn by William Cowper states so eloquently:

"There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains."

Luke 7:48 And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.

FORGIVEN! Cleansed of all sins! Sins blotted out and wiped away! No more trace of them in His sight!

Isaiah 38:17 Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.

Isaiah 43:25 I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.

Isaiah 44:22 I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.

Psalms 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

Micah 7:18-19 Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

Hebrews 8:10-12 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

3) Romans 4:6-8 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

Paul here is quoting from Psalm 32. When we trust the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, not only does He remove our sins and refrains from crediting (imputing) those sins to our account, He also gives us His righteousness instead. Consider this illustration:

In God's eyes, our sins have made us spiritually bankrupt. We are so far in debt to God, that we could never repay what we owe to Him - we could never get our sins right - we are destitute, impoverished - with such a great negative balance credited to our account. But then Jesus comes... When He is received, when His gift of forgiveness and eternal life is accepted through repentance and faith, then something amazing happens: His perfect righteousness is credited to our account, so instead of having a negative balance, we now have a positive balance - we are now billionaires spiritually - our debt has been wiped out (no more trace of it!), because the Kinsman Redeemer has paid ALL our sin-debt and purchased us back from our slavery to sin and to Satan.

Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.

The word forgiven used in most of these verses (except for the next two main passages covered in this study - in Ephesians and Colossians) means "to send forth." And the word cover means "to conceal, to cover over, to hide." Taken together we have a wonderful picture - the same one that was shown to us on the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16 with the two goats. The High Priest laid his hands on the scapegoat and confessed all the sins of the nation of Israel over it (spiritually their sins were laid upon the scapegoat - and this pictured our sins being laid upon Jesus Christ). The blood of the first goat was shed, and the people's sins were covered with that blood (covered from God's sight - atonement literally means "to cover" - see Leviticus 17:11); then the scapegoat was released into the wilderness, bearing their sins far away.

Leviticus 16:21-22 And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.

Not only were their sins covered, they were removed completely out of sight - out of their sight (and out of God's sight) forever. This is what Jesus Christ did when He fulfilled all the OT types. His precious blood covers our sins, and His death has borne them far away forever! Our Saviour didn't just cover our sins, He took them away forever!

FORGIVEN!

John 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

4) Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

We are to treat one another as our Lord has treated us. We are to show the same forgiveness that He bestowed upon us.

The word for forgiven used here and in the next passage is given this definition in Strong's Concordance:

"From 5485; to grant as a favor, i.e. gratuitously, in kindness, pardon or rescue."

#5485 means "graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude)."

Wow! I was reading a sermon outline yesterday that pointed this definition out. It certainly is powerful. It is God's influence upon our heart and life that makes us grateful. Are you grateful for the Lord's forgiveness? In your gratitude, are you showing this same forgiveness to others? Are you being kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you? Does the fact that you are FORGIVEN affect your life? It should!

FORGIVEN!

5) Colossians 2:13-14 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

When we trust Christ for salvation, we are made alive (quickened) together with Him, and forgiven all our sins. Jesus has blotted out the record of our sins that were against us, having nailed it to His cross. This signified that the debt was fully paid. In the first century, when criminals had finished suffering the penalty due their crimes, when they had paid the full penalty by bearing the stripes meted out and remaining imprisoned until their punishment was completed, then they were set free and the list of their offences was nailed to their prison door - marked as paid in full. This record and the statement marked on it told the world around them that they were now released from their crimes - and could never be charged with them again - the penalty was paid completely. In the same way, we can no longer be judged or condemned for our sins again, as our Saviour already paid their complete penalty - paid in full! - and the record of them is nailed to His cross!

This is what H.G. Spafford was referring to in his hymn, It Is Well With My Soul:

"My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!"

Colossians 1:12-14 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

Strong's Concordance gives this definition for the word sin as used in this passage: "from 264; a sin (properly abstract)." #264 means "properly, to miss the mark (and so not share in the prize), i.e. (figuratively) to err, especially (morally) to sin."

We have all missed the mark of God's perfect will for our lives - and that is sin. Praise the Lord that there is forgiveness for our sins!

There is a different word for sin used in a parallel passage though:

Ephesians 1:6-7 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

"A side-slip (lapse or deviation), i.e. (unintentional) error or (wilful) transgression." This word includes the idea of falling into sin - not necessarily heading into it deliberately, but stumbling and falling in our day to day lives. Praise the Lord there is forgiveness for our deliberate sins, as well as for our stumbling and faltering!

FORGIVEN!

6) James 5:15-16 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

I believe a careful study of this passage reveals that it is referring to a true believer who has backslidden, who has wandered into sin - and gotten sick as a result of God's chastising on their unrepentant sin. The sickness was to get their attention and bring them back to the Lord. When the backslider accepts God's correction and makes his sin right, the forgiveness and cleansing is there for him. The word for faults here is the same word used in Ephesians 1:7 for sins (ie. side-slips), and the context indicates that it was a sin(s) against another believer (hence the need to confess it to one another).

We are to seek to wash one another's feet spiritually (ie. bring the Word of God to bear on their lives in an attempt to halt their backsliding and bring the believer back into right fellowship with the Lord - see John 13:1-17); to restore our brother in a spirit of meekness (Galatians 6:1), and to convert (ie. turn) him back from his waywardness - before the Lord has to use stronger means of chastisement in his life.

First, God speaks - through His Word, through other believers, through the prompting of His Spirit, through our circumstances.
If that doesn't halt our progress in sin, then He spanks - that is light chastisement designed to get our attention (see Hebrews 12:5-13).
If that isn't effective, then He scourges - that is chastisement that leaves scars, that is permanent, that proves to us God isn't playing games with our sin.
Then His last resort is to take us home when we have committed the sin unto death (ie. not a specific sin, but an unrepentant attitude that will not get the sin right) - then He separates (death is a separation - the separation of the soul from the body - see 1 John 5:16-17; Acts 5:1-11; 1 Corinthians 11:27-32).

This last aspect of chastisement is what James is referring to in this passage - sickness that may lead to death if not repented of. However, when repented of, there is forgiveness:

James 5:19-20 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

FORGIVEN!

7) 1 John 2:12-14 I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake. I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father. I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.

There are three types of believers pictured in this passage: little children - ie. young believers; young men - ie. believers who have grown a bit and have gained a measure of victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil; and fathers - ie. mature believers who have been walking with the Lord for a while now, maintaining their walk and fellowship with their Heavenly Father.

I love the fact that the first thing emphasized for the little children - for the new believers - is that they are FORGIVEN! They are forgiven for His name's sake - forgiven because He is the Saviour and they have trusted in Him for salvation. Yes, there is a lot of growth and a lot of changes to come in their lives - but they have a clean slate now, they have a new beginning in Christ - they are:

FORGIVEN!

Are you?

I love the statement, "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven!" No, we aren't sinless (as that is typically what is meant by this phrase) - but we are forgiven - and that should mean something to each and every one of us!

Forgiveness

Forgiveness - it's a blessing;
When a heart that once was stone
Stops exalting its own self,
And lets Christ reign from His throne.

Forgiveness - it's a blessing;
When all bitterness departs,
When the water of the Word
Purifies a broken heart.

Forgiveness - it's a blessing;
Though sometimes walking by sight,
Now reaching for God's promises,
By faith, grasping them tight.

Forgiveness - it's a blessing;
Though blackest sins barred the way,
With rivers of mercy flowing,
Christ can wash them all away.

Forgiveness - it's a blessing;
Eternal life by God's grace,
With joy, looking to Heaven,
And beholding our Saviour's face.

Poem written November 2nd/99
Devotional written August 13th/07
Jerry Bouey

60 Day Devotional Series: Numbers In The Bible

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