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Lesson 8: Forgiven Forever
God wants His people to know that they are forgiven people and that there is absolutely no hindrance between Himself and them.
When we come to the Lord, our first great need is forgiveness of sins. We need to know that God has forgiven us of all our sins.
Forgiveness of sins means that our sins have been taken away. They are no longer on us. Jesus is the One—the only One—who can take away our sins. When John the Baptist saw Jesus, he said,
"Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." John 1:29
Forgiveness is from God
All sins are sins against God. It is God whom we have sinned against, and it is God alone who can forgive us. No human being can forgive sins against God. The Bible says,
"To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses…" Daniel 9:9
Too often we think about forgiveness only from our side and our need, and we do not see the greatness of forgiveness from God's side.
Forgiveness takes place in the heart of God—the One against whom we have sinned. God wants us to know how He feels toward us. Forgiveness is in the very heart of God. God glories in forgiveness. God does not forgive us grudgingly; He forgives us freely and completely.
Forgiveness is on the Basis of the Blood
God must have a righteous basis on which to forgive our sins. The righteous basis is the fact that God's own Son shed His precious blood for our sins. Because Christ paid the full penalty of our sins, God can righteously forgive us. God does not overlook our sins, but He forgives them because He sees the blood of His Son which was shed for them. The Lord Jesus said,
"This is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission [forgiveness] of sins." Matthew 26:28
Throughout the entire Bible there is only one basis on which sins can be forgiven, and that is the blood of Christ. We must beware of any teaching that leaves out, or minimises, the blood of Christ. The Bible says,
"Without the shedding of blood is no remission [no forgiveness of sins.]" (Hebrews 9:22)
In heaven, the song of the redeemed is to Jesus, praising Him for redeeming them by His blood:
"You are worthy…for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood…" Revelation 5:9
Forgiveness is through Jesus Christ
Through the apostle Paul, God has issued a great proclamation:
"Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this Man [Jesus Christ] is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by Him all who believe are justified from all things…" Acts 13:38-39
Our eyes are directed to the Saviour in whom every perfection is found. It is in the name of Jesus that forgiveness of sins is proclaimed. He is the One who, from eternity, was and is God's delight. He is the One who perfectly glorified God with respect to sin. He is the One who put away all our sins by His death on the cross.
The great work which Christ did to secure our forgiveness was finished once for all on the cross when He cried out, "It is finished!" Now all the value of that work resides in the glorious Person who did it. The Bible says, "Through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins."
God has given His Son to us and through Him proclaims forgiveness. Christ is the one and only Mediator between God and men. He is the Saviour—the only Saviour. The Bible says,
"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Acts 4:12
Forgiveness is to all who Believe
All the value of Christ's perfect work is secured by faith in Him. The Bible says,
"Through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him all who believe are justified from all things…" (Acts 13:38)
Those who believe on Jesus are declared righteous by the Judge of the universe. They are "justified from all things." This means that every sin has been forgiven. In absolute grace God is proclaiming forgiveness of sins to everyone who believes on His Son.
God has Christ before Him as the object of His pleasure. God is saying to us, "Receive My Son and come into the circle of My pleasure. I am not taking account of your sins. I have Christ before Me as the object of My pleasure. I invite you to come into that circle."
Forgiveness is Full and Complete Forever
The forgiveness of sins which God gives to every believer is full forgiveness. God's Word says, "Through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins." God does not give a partial forgiveness. He does not say "forgiveness of sins up to the time of believing," or "forgiveness of the sins that are confessed." He says "forgiveness of sins."
The forgiveness which God gives is full and complete. The whole question of sins is looked at as one thing. It is the forgiveness of all the believer's sins—past, present and future. When you get forgiveness of sins, you get it forever. If it were otherwise, how could we ever be sure that we were forgiven of all our sins?
Someone may wonder at this, thinking "I see how God forgives my past and present sins, but how can He forgive the sins which I have not yet committed?"
When Christ died on the cross, did He die for some of your sins, or all of them? He died for all of them. How many of your sins were in the future at the time of Christ's death? All of them were in the future then.
The whole matter of sin is looked at as one thing. When you get the forgiveness of your sins, you get it forever. The forgiveness which God gives is eternal and unchanging. There is no thought in the Scriptures of a believer having forgiveness today and not having it tomorrow.
God's Joy is in Forgiving Us
God is a Saviour God and He delights in forgiveness. Men have all sorts of wrong ideas about God, put into their minds by Satan. Jesus came to tell us and show us what God is really like.
Jesus used parables to explain the gospel. A parable is "an earthly story with a heavenly meaning." In Luke chapter 15 we have the parable of "The Prodigal Son." The father in this story represents God the Father and the prodigal son represents us.
In this beautiful story, a certain father had two sons. The younger son asked his father to give him his portion of the inheritance. The younger son took that which his father had given him and went into a far country. There he wasted his inheritance in sinful living.
When the son had spent all that he had, a great famine arose in the land. The only job he could find was tending hogs. He was so hungry that he could have eaten the husks he was feeding the hogs.
When he came to himself, he thought about his father's house. He said to himself, "My father's servants have plenty of food to eat and I am perishing [dying] with hunger. I will arise and go to my father and say to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and you. I am not worthy to be called your son. Let me be one of your hired servants.'"
He arose and started back to his father. On the way back he must have wondered how his father would receive him. Would he forgive him? Would his father reject him and tell him that he could never come back after what he had done?
How did his father receive him? Here are the words of Jesus, "When he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him."
In that moment the prodigal son knew that he was fully and freely forgiven. Even more, he knew his father's heart attitude toward him. By his actions, his father was saying, "I love you! I love you!"
In this beautiful story, Jesus shows us how the Father receives us when we come to Him in repentance and faith. He forgives us fully and freely. His joy in forgiving us is much greater than our joy in being forgiven.
It is a wonderful moment for us when we learn the attitude of God's heart towards us. God is for us! God's forgiveness is the going forth of His infinite love toward us. It is God folding us to His heart, even as the father puts his arms around the prodigal son and folded him to his heart. It is God saying to us, "I love you! I love you!"
The Assurance of Forgiveness
Often believers will say, "But I just don't feel like I am forgiven." We need to be reminded that forgiveness takes place in the heart of God, not in our feelings.
A woman was counselling a young girl who lacked assurance that her sins were forgiven. The girl was confused and said, "But I thought that I had to have a certain kind of feeling or some burst of light or something."
Pointing to a verse of assurance in her Bible, the woman said, "Here is all the light you need." The girl put her faith in God's Word and found the peace and joy she had been looking for.
We need to turn from ourselves and our feelings to God and to His Word. God is what He is, regardless of our feelings. And His Word is true, regardless of our feelings. We can know that we are forgiven because God says so in His Word. The Bible says,
"About him [Christ] all the prophets testify, that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name." Acts 10:43 (NET Bible)
God is a Saviour God, and He forgives us "for Christ's sake." It is because of who Christ is and what He has done that God says to every believer, "Your sins are forgiven." Every believer can say, "God has forgiven all of my sins forever because of Christ." There is no question about it.
The Effect of Forgiveness
Someone will say, "Well, if the believer's sins are forgiven forever, then he can do anything he wants to, and no matter how badly he behaves, he is always forgiven."
When God saves us, He does a work of grace in our heart. It becomes our delight to do the things that please God. In His Word, God says,
"I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them." Hebrews 10:16
It is the believer's joy to be controlled by the will of God. The knowledge that all your sins are forgiven never has the effect of making you careless about sin. The Bible says,
"There is forgiveness with You [God], that you may be feared." (Psalm 130:4)
The believer can know, without a doubt, that all his sins are forgiven. On the other hand, it is never stated in the Bible that the believer has no sin in him. Even after we are saved, we still have "the flesh"—that sinful nature which we received from Adam. The Bible says,
"If we say that we have no sin [no sinful nature], we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." 1 John 1:8
Furthermore, no believer can ever say that he is beyond being tempted or beyond the danger of being overtaken in a sin. He is warned to take heed lest he fall. He is warned about deceitfulness of sin and the wiles of the devil. He is solemnly told not to love the world and to turn from fleshy lusts "which war against the soul."
We must not be proud and self-confident, thinking that we are beyond temptation and sin. Instead, we must be humble and in constant dependence upon the Lord. The Lord taught His disciples to pray, "Lead us not into temptation."
The Lord taught us to pray this because every one of us has a particular weakness in some area of his life. Under certain circumstances, that particular temptation could overwhelm us. Therefore we pray that God will not allow us to come into those circumstances where we would sin.
If we are in the blessedness of knowing that all our sins are forgiven, we will not want anything to come between us and our blessed God. We shall dread sin. We shall hate it. We shall avoid it. We shall flee from it. And we shall pray continually, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." (Matthew 6:13)
When a Believer Sins
The forgiveness which we receive when we trust Christ as our Saviour is eternal forgiveness. God never takes back the forgiveness that He gives us when we are saved.
The Bible speaks of another kind of forgiveness which we may call fellowship forgiveness. This is forgiveness between the believer and his heavenly Father.
When a believer sins, he does not lose his eternal forgiveness. He never loses his relationship with his heavenly Father. He is always a child of God. But he loses that marvellous, unclouded fellowship with God.
When a child of God sins, it becomes a family matter between him and his Father. God loves His children, even when they have sinned, and He has made provision for them. God's Word says,
"If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." 1 John 2:1
Our part is to confess our sin to God. Our fellowship with the Father is restored the moment we confess our sin to Him. The Bible says,
"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
If a child of God does not confess and forsake his sin, but continues to do things which are displeasing to God, he comes under God's chastening. It is a serious thing to be chastened by God. We cannot and dare not be careless in the way we live.
God is always willing to forgive His children, but let us remember that what God has to forgive does not please Him. Are you willing to go on with something that does not please God—something He has to forgive?
God wants us to know that we are forgiven people. He wants us to be conscious of the fact that we are forgiven forever, so that we may enjoy the blessedness which David describes in Psalm 32. David wrote,
"Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him." Psalm 32:1-2 (NIV)
One of the wonderful things that the Holy Spirit does for us is to bear witness that our sins are forgiven. The Holy Spirit is the One who has witnessed every sin we have ever committed. What does He say concerning those who have Christ as their Saviour? He says, "Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." (Hebrews 10:17)
It is a tragic thing for an unsaved person to suppose that his sins are forgiven when they are not. But every child of God should know beyond a shadow of a doubt that all his sins are forgiven.
Our forgiveness is entirely on the basis of who Christ is and what He has done. We have forgiveness in Christ. The Bible says,
"In Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." Ephesians 1:7
This verse says that we have "redemption through His blood." What does "redemption" mean? Redemption means "to deliver by paying a price." We have been delivered from Satan's kingdom. Christ paid the price—His precious blood. Redemption means that we have been put on new ground, outside of Satan's power.
As a forgiven person, I am altogether on new ground with God. I am on the ground of Christ's work. My old life in Adam ended on the cross. I am a new person in God's new creation.
God does not want us to occupied with our past failures; He wants us to be occupied with Christ and with the wondrous grace of our God. Our sins have been forgiven and forgotten by God; He does not hold a single thing against us. All our sins have been dealt with by Jesus Christ to the complete satisfaction of God. The Bible says,
"For by one offering He [Christ] has perfected forever those who are sanctified [set apart for God]." Hebrews 10:14
* God wants His children to be happy in heart and free to approach Him, knowing that all their sins have been forgiven.
Knowing that we are God's "forgiven-forever" children should have at least two very practical effects in our lives. It should produce in us a thankful attitude and forgiving attitude.
We should be thankful.
Ingratitude—not being thankful, is a great sin. When a Christian ceases to be thankful, he is on a course downward—away from God. God wants our hearts filled with thankfulness. The Bible says,
"In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." 1 Thessalonians 5:18
We should be forgiving.
On one occasion Peter came to the Lord and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I say not unto you, Until seven times: but, until seventy times seven." (Matthew 18:21-22)
Jesus did not mean that we are to forgive a person only 490 times and no more. He was saying to Peter, "I want you to always have the spirit of forgiveness. I want you to forgive others endlessly."
Jesus then told the story of a certain king taking account of his servants. One of his servants owed him ten thousand "talents"—about 300 million dollars. He could not possibly pay his huge debt, so the king ordered that he and his family and all that he had be sold to pay his debt.
The servant fell down and asked for mercy. The king was moved with compassion, and he forgave the servant of his enormous debt.
This same servant then went out and found a poor man who owed him a small debt of about fifteen dollars. He grabbed this man by the throat, saying, "Pay me what you owe me!"
The man could not pay his debt and he fell at his feet, begging for mercy. But the wicked servant would not have mercy on him. He had this poor man cast into prison.
When the other servants told the king what this servant had done, the king was angry. He called that servant to him and said,
"You wicked servant! I forgave you of all your debt, because you desired mercy. Should not you also have compassion on your fellow servant?" (Matthew 18:32-33)
We are like the servant who owed his lord 300 million dollars. We could never pay the debt of sin we owed. But God, in His mercy, freely forgave us of our enormous debt. Should we not therefore forgive others of the "debts" that they may owe us? The Bible says,
"Be kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you." Ephesians 4:32