What “Forgiveness of Sins” Means

What “Forgiveness of Sins” Means July 7, 2024

Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Hebrews 9:22 (ESV)


This Sunday, July 7, is Global Forgiveness Day. This event was founded 20 years ago by the Christian Embassy of Christ’s Ambassadors as a day to let go of grudges and build stronger relationships.


As a rule, I don’t hold grudges, and I believe that every day is a good day to work on relationships. Therefore, I have chosen to use this weekend to reflect upon why we need forgiveness in the first place.


Falling into Temptation


We all know what happened in the Garden of Eden. God said, ‟Don’t,” Adam and Eve did, and it was closing time.


But what led to that? Why did Satan’s temptation work? I mean, a piece of fruit can only look so good, right?


It all comes down to trust. ‟God said no.”


‟Did He really say no?”


‟He said we would die.”


‟Oh, come on. You’re not going to die. He just doesn’t want you to be like HE is.”


Satan sowed the seeds of envy with Adam and Eve. This was a feeling that neither of them had ever envisioned before.


At this point, they had a choice. They could trust God, their Creator, who had given them everything for their benefit including a perfect world for them to live in, or they could trust this slithery dude they had just met who told them God was holding out on them.


They made the wrong choice. It doesn’t matter that Satan sweet-talked them. Their desire was to be equal to God, at which point, they wouldn’t need Him anymore. And they acted on that desire.


And it cost them everything. ALL of their relationships were broken at that moment. They lost fellowship with God, with each other, and with creation itself. Everything was ruined.


Fortunately for us…


Forgiveness of sins is God’s Will.


Question for all the parents out there. Have you had a child go astray? Sometimes they make bad choices, engage in self-destructive behavior, or leave home on bad terms.


However, it is rare for a parent to never want their child to come home, no matter what they put us through. We still love them, no matter how they mess up.


God is the same way with us. He knew He was taking a risk giving us free choice, but He did it anyway, knowing that was the only way we could truly love Him in return.


And we paid Him back by trying to kick Him off His throne.


Whereupon we have the first instance of animal sacrifice, when God has to make clothes out of animal skin on account of Adam and Eve now being ashamed of their business being on display.


From that moment forward, the only way to atone for sin was through the shedding of blood.


There’s a problem with this system. As time went by, we came up with a million different ways to disobey God. There are only so many goats we can sacrifice.


And even then, all the sacrifice did was to cover you for that one sin, freeing you from the penalty of it that one time. It didn’t do anything to restore our broken relationships, and it didn’t do anything to keep us from committing the same sin again.


There has to be a better way.


A New Bridge


The Fall in the Garden of Eden created a chasm between God and us that no one can cross. No matter how desperately we may want to get to the other side, we can’t rebuild the bridge to where God is, because the abyss of our sin is just too deep.


That doesn’t stop many of us from trying though. We think, ‟Maybe if I’m a really good person or do all of these really good things, I can find a way down through the canyon and up the opposite cliff to where God is.”


That’s how religion works. Or rather, that’s how religion doesn’t work. Because you never even get to the bottom of the valley; therefore, you have no hope of getting up the other side.


Only God has the power to rebuild the bridge. He builds it out of grace.


And this brings praise to God because of his wonderful grace. God gave that grace to us freely. He gave us that grace in Christ, the one he loves.

In Christ we are made free by his blood sacrifice. We have forgiveness of sins because of God’s rich grace. Ephesians 1:6-7 (ERV)

Forgiveness of Sins through Repentance


The key to accessing this grace is repentance. The easiest way to define repentance is a change of mind followed by a change in direction.


Repentance breaks the power of sin because we have made the choice to go a different way in our lives. All we have to do is to leave our mess on our side of the bridge and let God make us clean. The work of salvation has already been done for us by Jesus.


Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He gave it to them and said, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood that establishes the covenant; it is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins. Matthew 26:27-28 (HCSB)


And with that, Jesus solved the Not Enough Goats problem. One sacrifice for all and for all time.


However, a covenant is a two-sided agreement. God built the bridge through the sacrifice of Jesus, but it’s a bridge, not an escalator. We still have to cross it. So, how do we do that?


How Faith and Obedience Work Together


And He ordered us to preach to the people, and to testify solemnly that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify of Him, that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins. Acts 10:42-43 (NASB)


Believing in Jesus is how we cross the bridge. This is our RSVP to God’s invitation to join Him at the party on His side of the bridge. Through faith, we trust that the bridge is long enough and strong enough to get us over the chasm, and that God will keep us from falling off the bridge, or at least catch us if we do make a bad step.


So repentance points us to the bridge and obedience is taking the first step onto it. We fulfill our part of the covenant by obedience through faith, and God fulfills His through His grace by bringing us home to Him.


This is just the first step onto the bridge, though. We continue across the bridge by sharing the grace we have been given by extending it to others. We forgive as we have been forgiven.


And then we tell the whole world about it. This is why the Gospel is called the Good News. Isn’t it good news that everything bad you have ever done, and everything good you have neglected to do, can be rinsed away like crusty food on a day-old dish?


This is what forgiveness of sins means. And all you have to do is turn around and get on that bridge.


(Sometimes the bridge rocks though. Join us next time when we talk about that. If you click on the Free Newsletter Link you’ll be first to know when that post is available.)



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