Why do we need forgiveness? What does God’s forgiveness look like? And is it possible to truly be forgiven? Stephen Baker explores the topic of forgiveness by looking at what the Bible teaches.
Life is full of questions and often the answers are difficult. Stephen Baker seeks to answer various questions about life and faith using the Bible as his only source. Listen to Stephen’s show, “Life Questions,” on HopeStreamRadio as he tackles the challenge of life questions.
“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;”– Ephesians 1:7
So what’s the verdict?
Really there are a number of questions which we need to answer to answer the main question – Forgiveness – is it possible? I’ll address them one by one:
Why do I need to be forgiven?
Are guilty feelings just manufactured by how we are brought up? Are they just a legacy from more religious days? Are these just hang-ups that we should be clear of now that we live in a more liberal society?
These are good questions. Let me start with what the Lord Jesus said. He believed that we all need forgiveness and that His Father, God, is the person that we need to go to for forgiveness. If you have ever said the Lord’s prayer you will know this to be true.
” After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”
The Lord Jesus added:
“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
So the Lord Jesus believed that:
We need forgiveness,
It can be obtained by prayer to his Father and,
The evidence that we really have it will be seen in whether we are prepared to forgive others!
Who have I wronged when I do wrong?
The Bible teaches that God is our Creator, our Judge and the setter of the rules.
God summarizes and concludes in the letter to the Romans chapter three that ‘there is none righteous, no, not one’ (v10) and ‘there is none that doeth good, no, not one’ (v12). You might think that this is very tough but remember the God as Creator and the Almighty is the ‘setter of the rules’. God is not saying that no one ever does any good or that no one ever gets anything right but He is saying that we are not characteristically right (we are morally wrong and sinful) and we are not consistently good in what we do.
Could God not just forget sin and ignore it; after all He is a God of love isn’t He?
God is a God of love but that is only one aspect of His character. He has other qualities that sit comfortably with the fact that ‘God is love”.
God is just and fair. In Psalm 97:2 he describes His throne (his seat and style of administration – ‘righteousness and justice are the foundation of his (God’s) throne’. In Genesis 18:25 we discover that from the earliest civilizations of planet earth God was described as ‘the judge of all the earth‘ and he always does what is right i.e. He is righteous.
Men in the Bible realized that their sin was essentially against God. It affected and indeed wronged others but it was against God as it broke His Laws. In Psalm 51 King David confessed – ‘against thee, thee only, have I sinned‘.
God has appointed His Son, The Lord Jesus as the judge in the final court. There will be no appeal procedure in place, John 5:22 and Acts 17:31. He has not only been appointed to judge the world one day but presently He is the Savior of the world (John 4:42). His offer today is one of forgiveness (Matthew 9:6). This is only possible because he ‘died for our sins’ in full and final payment to God for all wrong and evil.
In life only the person who has been sinned against is in a position to offer forgiveness. So it is with God. We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God (Roman 3:23). It is God we have wronged and He chooses to offer forgiveness through His Son, Jesus Christ.
What if I don’t have the means to pay; I just can’t meet God’s demands on my life?
This is where the grace of God comes in. God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us, Romans 5:8. God doesn’t ask us to pay, he offers forgiveness on the basis that His Son has already paid through the death of the cross.
God calls for a response from you. The words repent, confess, call, trust, believe, come, and receive Christ all come to mind. You cannot acquire forgiveness on the back of a good or religious life but you can receive it by faith in Jesus Christ.
I leave you with the words of Acts 13:38,39 – 38: “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: 39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”