Getting Forgiveness

It seems that there’s one thing that we believers are most noted for. We’re always wanting and asking for God’s forgiveness.

Is There More?

We’re certain that we were forgiven (our sins were washed away) through Jesus’ offering of His own blood. But many of us (including me) were convinced that forgiveness took effect at salvation . . . and a lot of wrong decisions and resulting actions have taken place since then so something more must be done.

Believing that premise to be true leaves us (at the very least) continually asking for God’s forgiveness through some form of confessional prayer. The concept is comparable to treating an illness with a medication that has prescribed dosage instructions stating “use as needed.” Essentially, we act as though we have a pail of Jesus’ blood available and we can just wash ourselves with it . . . as needed.

And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (Hebrews 9:22)

The “shedding of blood” isn’t merely bleeding a bit. It’s totally draining the life out of a body. It’s dying. There is no pail of His blood stored up for us to use at will. To forgive us more He would have to die again.

(If your struggling with this, please read “1 John 1:9The Christian Bar of Soap.”)

Hebrews Explains . . .

Here are some plainly stated facts from the book of Hebrews.

  • Jesus became the new High Priest of the New Covenant. Along with the change of the priesthood came the change of the law. (Hebrews 7:12)

  • Human priests took blood that wasn’t their own into an earthly copy of the Holy Place. He took His own blood into heaven itself. (Hebrews 9:24)

  • Jesus won’t come back here to bear sins again. He will return one more time –but it will be for those that are eagerly waiting for Him. (Hebrews 9:28)

  • The Old Covenant’s law required sacrifices every year. They didn’t make a worshiper perfect –instead they were a reminder of rebellious ways. (Hebrews 10:1-4)

  • Jesus took away the Old Covenant to establish the New. Under that New Covenant He was the single sacrifice that sanctified His followers –it made them (including us) forever perfect. (Hebrews 10:10, 14)

Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more. Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin. (Hebrews 10:17-18)

What is there that we could possibly offer to get forgiveness, either for our salvation or for our subsequent failures? Maybe self-flagellation? . . . our own blood? . . . material property? . . . promises of improvement? . . . prayerful apologies? It says “there is no longer any offering for sin.

We Are Reconciled (Forgiven)

God has fully forgiven us; He has reconciled us to Himself. There is nothing remaining for us to do. He has made us forever perfect by Jesus’ death on the cross. The book of Hebrews isn’t the only place this is described. Romans chapter five states it comprehensively and 2 Corinthians chapter five adds clarification . . .

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. (Romans 5:10-11)

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)

This 2 Corinthians passage makes a clear connection between God’s reconciliation and His forgiveness. Jesus’ death was the necessary payment to redeem us from death. It reconciled us and Him; nothing more is owed. He is not counting our wrongs (sins, trespasses) against us. Furthermore, that’s what we’re supposed to be telling everyone. It’s not that we can be forgiven . . . it’s that we have been forgiven.

The Law Did Its Job

If we were Israelites by descent then we had the Ten Commandments and the rest of the Law of Moses. They are a fully illustrated version of the laws depicted by the two trees in the Garden. And everyone has the equivalent law written on the heart (from Romans chapters one and two). Those laws all have the same purpose: to show us our impending death and our need for eternal life. That life can only come from God Himself.

Even so, we hear about the need for us to follow, to adhere to, to obey the law . . . the Law of Moses. And we also hear that Jesus fulfilled that Law . . . He was the only One to successfully do that.

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (Romans 10:4)

But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. (Galatians 3:23-25)

Both of these Scriptures state that coming to faith in Jesus completes the Law’s purpose. We no longer need to compare our flesh’s behaviors to God’s commandments. We were humbled and saw that without Him we were unrighteous, unholy, guilty . . . and under a sentence of death.

When we were dead in our transgressions, He made us alive with Christ (from Ephesians 2:1-10).

Our need for forgiveness has been fulfilled if we believe what He says. What we really needed was God’s gift of eternal, spiritual life through His Son.