We need God’s forgiveness for our salvation. What does that mean more clearly? When God forgives us we are made acceptable and set aside from the rest of “The World” and its evil. We are set aside as one of God’s children.
Without forgiveness we all are hopeless, and following the logic everyone has sinned, no one is “blameless,” all of us are hopelessly lost, we’re all so sick we should be quarantined from one another until we’re cured, lest we pass our sins to others; therefore the only hope we have is to beg The Heavenly Father through Jesus the Christ for His forgiveness.
The sacrifice made for us by Jesus the Christ is the only hope we have. Those who refuse to accept his message cannot otherwise be saved.
We must humble ourselves and forgive others in order to receive forgiveness. Will you accept God’s forgiveness? This is good teaching for those who are struggling to understand forgiveness.
Are you forgiven? Your eternal future depends on the answer to this serious question. The Bible teaches us that “there is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). Verse 23 of the same chapter states, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” We must find God’s forgiveness if we want to be saved from the consequences of sin. Someday we will meet the Lord in judgment. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
We are facing eternity, and this makes it imperative that we know if we are forgiven. If forgiven, we will be accepted into heaven. If we are not forgiven, we will be sentenced to eternal condemnation and the second death.
Some believe in eternal fire and torture. I do not and find many arguments which also agree with me that there is no value or good sense in such a punishment. Rather, the school of thought I agree with says those who reject God are sent to “fire” and are “burned up” and that is the end of them. Their “eternal condemnation” is a second death and then they are no more. Others argue based upon this next scriptural quote that everyone is tortured forever. I believe that torture is reserved for The Devil and his angels, they and they exclusively.
“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:31-34). “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Verse 41).
Forgiveness Through Christ’s Sacrifice
So what can we do to have salvation? We cannot save ourselves, but we can accept the plan that God has provided for us. It will help us to understand this plan when we consider what He showed to His people, the Israelites, before Christ came. God told them to sacrifice animals. The lambs that were slain pointed toward the perfect Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, who would redeem all people by shedding His blood for their sins. The shedding of blood also helped the people understand the seriousness of sin. Ephesians 1:7 says, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.”
“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19). Our forgiveness comes through Christ’s death and the spilling of His blood for the sins of man (Hebrews 9:22).
Let us take note that, because of our sins, we would be worthy of eternal death. But because of His love and mercy toward us, Jesus died in out stead, so we can be forgiven and our transgressions covered.
Unforgiveness Brings Bondage
When we experience Christ’s gracious forgiveness we receive peace. To retain this peace it is necessary to forgive others. Christ tells us in Matthew 6:14-15, “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.”
Jesus gives clear teaching on the perils of unforgiveness:
Matthew 18:23-35 New International Version (NIV)
23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accountswith his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold[a] was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.[b] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
Hating someone, holding an offense, or harboring a grudge causes many negative effects. The person who allows such attitudes in his life becomes joyless and sour. His health suffers, as do his relationships.
When we don’t forgive others, it brings about a bondage to our souls that could be compared to being enslaved by people or bound by a substance addiction. Often this unforgiveness causes a bitterness that claims us from the inside out. It locks in sorrow, anger and strife; it locks out joy, love and fellowship. This bitterness is a result of a proud spirit that seeks to keep score and gain revenge for perceived and real wrongs. If we refuse to release our offended feelings, they will eventually control us. We will be in bondage to them as well as in the bondage of sin before God.
Jesus taught that the only way for us to grant forgiveness to others is in the way He has forgiven us. We are not to condition forgiveness according to the nature or gravity of the offense against us, the number of offenses, or the character of the offender. We are to show unconditional mercy as God has shown mercy to us. As we humble ourselves and extend forgiveness to others, God opens the way for us to seek forgiveness for our own mistakes and sins. God fully forgives all that come to Him with a humble and repentant spirit.
As we follow the Holy Spirit, we will know the truth, and the truth shall make us free. (John 8:32). Verse 36 says, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”
“Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts” (Hebrews 3:15). In Matthew 11:28, Jesus said, “Come unto me … and I will give you rest.” As we follow these teachings, we will be forgiven and will be able to forgive others.
Coming to God
Now the question is, how do we come to God? The answer is in the Bible. “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44). God, through His Holy Spirit, makes us aware that we are sinners and in need of a Savior. Sometimes we don’t fully understand God’s call. We may begin to notice an empty, lonely feeling in our heart-a need of something, a feeling we are not right, a conviction we are lost.
When we become aware of this restlessness in our spirit, we need to open our heart to God for direction. The load of sin will become very heavy, and our heart will become remorseful because of our past sinful life. God wants us to surrender our life to Him in true repentance. When God sees our broken and contrite heart and our readiness to fully do His will, He forgives our past sinful life, and we receive forgiveness and peace. (Psalm 34:18; Psalm 51:16-17).
One gains a feeling of happiness and a desire to share with others what Christ has done in us.
This is not something that is only intellectual, or a changing of one’s mind. It is a work of the Holy Spirit that converts us to a new life. Through this power of the Holy Spirit we have faith to trust God so we can lay down our own will and forgive others. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Or: 2 Corinthians 5:17 New International Version (NIV)
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!
The Bible way of forgiveness is beautiful. A trusting faith in the sacrifice of Jesus, coupled with a complete surrender to God and His will, removes our guilt. Our sins are completely covered by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. The forgiveness that God gives takes away our offenses and hurts. He wipes the slate clean and forgets our transgressions, “And their iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 8:12). What a wonderful freedom we can experience when God forgives our sins and we can forgive our fellowman. You too can experience this in your mind and in your life. Come to the Lord Jesus Christ today!