Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Understanding the Forgiveness of God

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory."
(Ephesians 1:3-12) 

From the very beginning God had a plan to save us, His lowly creation, from our sins and give us an opportunity to inherit eternal salvation.  This plan centered on the death of His only begotten Son.  It is through His shed blood that we have the forgiveness of sins and hope of eternal life with our Heavenly Father.  God's abundant grace and mercy shines forth in His willingness to sacrifice His Son, to have Him bear our sins and have them nailed to the cross with His own body.  "He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins." (Colossians 1:13, 14) 

When we think about the magnitude of God's majesty, the depth of His love, and the degree of His faithfulness we must take heed to truly appreciate the abundance of His forgiveness.  And even though we serve a wonderful Father who loves us, will never leave us and who is ever merciful to us, we must remember that He has requirements for us.  He does not give free passage into Heaven to everyone who believes or does what they think God wants them to do.  We must DO what HE commands us to do.  
    "Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness! Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:  and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.  But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:  and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall." (Matthew 7:22-27)

"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)
      God will not forgive us unless we confess our sin to Him and seek His forgiveness.  God's forgiveness is not automatically distributed to us the moment we transgress His commands.  We must have a godly sorrow that leads us to turn away from whatever sin we have committed.  Any other type of sorry will profit us nothing. "For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while. Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death." (2 Corinthians 7:8-10)

God also requires us to forgive one another.  If we refuse to forgive our brethren, God will not forgive us.  "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."  (Matthew 6:14, 15)  “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”  (Matthew 18:35)

God does not want us to be lost because we fail to have godly repentance.  Rather, "the Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9)  He wants all of us to make the commitment to follow Him, to have "godly sorrow that produces repentance leading to salvation" when we do sin, and to live faithfully until death so that He can give us the crown of life. 

So I ask, what are you going to do with God's forgiveness?  Will you turn to Him, leave sin behind allow Him to forgive you?  May well all have penitent hearts when we sin so that God's mercy and grace will not be kept from us.

 "To the Lord our God 
belong mercy and forgiveness, 
though we have rebelled against Him."
- Daniel 9:9

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