Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Forgiveness of Sins in the New Covenant

God's actions in forgiving sins is not all in the past.

Being forgiven of our sins past, present and future wasn't entirely a done-deal on the cross. All future sins are not already-forgiven automatically, irrespective.

God still actively forgives today, in the present; and God also refrains from forgiving today - yes, even in the New Covenant, despite what He already accomplished for our potential benefit in Christ on the cross. 

God will forgive us today, if...

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness", wrote the Apostle John. 

So God forgives today. He also cleanses today. Forgiving and cleansing are present actions of God - not only past actions. 

Notice it doesn't say if we sin we should simply remind ourselves that we were already forgiven long ago. No, it says God is faithful and just to forgive us - that's an action-word, in the present. Forgiveness and cleansing is something God is willing to do for us, in the present. Actively. Personally. This side of the cross. In the New Covenant. 

But there's a condition - "...if we confess our sins..." God is willing to faithfully and justly forgive and cleanse us, in response to our confession of our sins.

"...faithful and just to forgive us..." That means when God actively and personally forgives us (in response to our confession, in the present), He does so on a faithful and just basis. It's not that God goes soft on sin, or that He scandalously overlooks our sin. Rather, it means His forgiveness will be given to us on a judicial basis - on the basis that He already accomplished the right to forgive us in response to our confession, on the cross.

In the past, on the cross, through Christ, God judiciously made forgiveness of sins ethically possible. Now He is willing to faithfully and dependably carry-out the rest of the transaction, by personally forgiving and cleansing us individually - if we confess our sins.  

Another condition is that we forgive others, Jesus said:

"...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 told a parable of a wicked servant who was originally forgiven a great debt, but was later arrested and thrown in jail; he was tormented and languished away in his cell, because of his debt, despite the fact he'd earlier been forgiven of the same debt - all because he did not forgive someone indebted to him.

"So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses".

So not only is forgiveness dependant upon confession, and upon forgiving others - but forgiveness could even be withdrawn, if a person didn't forgive others. 

Therefore even if someone was already standing at the altar ready to offer, Jesus said: "Go and be reconciled to your brother". A sacrifice on the altar didn't automatically mean forgiveness.

God exalted Jesus with His right hand "to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins". The purpose of the cross and resurrection in the first place, was so that forgiveness of sins can now be given - in the present, personally.

But not just to give 'forgiveness of sins', but first to give 'repentance'. So repenting first is part of receiving forgiveness. 

Through the risen-Jesus "is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins" - but it's only "all that believe" who are "justified from all things" "by him" - by Jesus. So believing is a condition of forgiveness. Believing is personal. And it's present. It depends on hearing the good news.

The exalted Jesus Christ appeared to Saul (Paul) to make him a "minister and a witness" to all people, "to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me". Forgiveness is receivable. In order to receive, a person had to be turned, and his eyes opened. Which is why someone needed to preach to them. 

"In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace". We have forgiveness, in Him. In Jesus. Abide in Christ!

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