September 5, 2010

Trusting in God’s Forgiveness – Matt Allen

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by kdkelly

You know the feeling. It starts deep down inside, and as it grows your stomach turns and anxiety builds. It’s the realization that you’ve fallen short…again. Satan seeks out our weaknesses and effectively exploits them to the fullest. And now, the guilt. The constant questioning, if only I had… Think of the dread of coming to worship services again and thinking if these people knew half the things I struggle with, they’d run me out of here. Many obey the gospel of Christ and do well initially. But then, they find themselves falling back into the same habits they had before their relationship with Christ. After they succumb, then comes the guilt. This time it is even worse. Sometimes the guilt is almost overwhelming and younger Christians are tempted to give up.

Sin is a terrible thing. The Hebrew writer likened it to a great weight that ties us down, Hebrews 12:1. It can paralyze our spiritual progress and shackle us with guilt. When we begin to compare our self with the perfect example of holiness, Jesus, it can feel even worse. When Peter finally realized who Jesus really was, he responded, Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man, O Lord, Luke 5:8. When we begin to understand sin for what it is, the burden may feel overwhelming.

I once read that there are three things we can do with sin. We can resolve to never sin again.  If we do this, we set our self up for failure. This is impossible. See 1 John 1:8. We can let sin make us a coward. This is what happened to Judas. Upon realization of the terrible consequences of his scheme, Matthew 27:3-5 tells us he went out and hanged himself. He could have faced his sin through confessing it to God. Had Judas humbly approached God seeking forgiveness, he would have been forgiven. Instead, Judas now has all eternity to deal with the regret of his sin. Sin turned Judas into a coward. Since resolving to never sin and not facing our sin are ways leading to defeat, we must learn from our sin. This is profitable. It is what Peter did. After suffering a crushing spiritual defeat by denying Jesus three times, Matthew 26:69-75, the apostle sought God’s forgiveness and picked himself up. A mere fifty days after the resurrection, Peter preached the greatest sermon of his life on Pentecost. There were over 3000 persons who obeyed the gospel that day. Toward the end of his life, Peter would write:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.

1 Peter 1:3-4 ESV

Peter knew all about mercy and forgiveness. He had personally experienced it as seen in John 21:15-17. What was true for Peter remains true for us. The Christian is someone who has experienced mercy and forgiveness from God. When God says something, He means it. Let us move in faith and learn to trust Him more.

The Forgiveness of God is personal.

God sent His Son to a cruel cross in order to be the perfect sacrifice for sin. Jesus is the propitiation for our sin, 1 John 2:2. This propitiation is for everyone. It makes no difference how many sins have to be forgiven. There is no one beyond God’s power to save. There is a passage in Hebrews 7:25 we need to remember:

He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25 ESV)

 Note the last phrase in the verse above. Forgiveness was not a one-time event. Jesus always lives to make intercession for us. He continues to be the offering that turns away God’s wrath. We can always approach the Father, confess our sin, and be assured that He will always welcome us back into His grace.

Heaven is not an unattainable goal. It is not the destination of so called “super-Christians.” It is the destination of those who have been forgiven and stand solely by the grace of God. Because of the abundant mercy of God, we have a living hope of salvation given to us through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. This hope and assurance should be a source of motivation for us as we go through life. When we realize that God will go to whatever depth or any length to save us, it should radically change our life for the better. How is your life?

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