Good morning, and this is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it. And if you are a first-time guest, welcome, and we thank you for joining us this morning as we worship Jesus. If you’d be so kind, please fill out a Welcome card and either place it in the Joy Box or bring it to me; I’d love to meet you at the of service.
This morning, we are deviating from our series through the book of Acts to discuss an essential doctrine. If you are new, every August, we do doctrinal serie, and this year we are learning about what has been called, the centerpiece of the gospel. Forgiveness. For without it, man is still left in their sin, separated from God. Since this true, forgiveness is one of God’s greatest gifts to us. Because man’s greatest problem is sin, man’s greatest need is forgiveness. And because forgiveness is our greatest need, forgiveness is one of God’s greatest gifts because its meets our greatest need.
- Life with God.
- Nearness with God.
- Communion with God.
Sin has separated us from God and from one another. This is why God sent Jesus. This is why Jesus suffered for us. 1 Peter 3:18 says, For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God. God sent Son so that He might bring us to God. What love. What grace. What a God. Because of His great love for us, created a plan for us, from eternity, to bring us back to Himself.
In the Bible, forgiveness generally comes from two angles: God’s gift of forgiveness for us and our call to offer that gift to others. This is what we will be learning about over the next couple of weeks. Please turn to your Bible or find on your device Psalm 32. While you are doing that, allow me to pray for our time together. Lets stand and read together.
1 How joyful is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 How joyful is a person whom the Lord does not charge with iniquity and in whose spirit is no deceit! 3 When I kept silent, my bones became brittle from my groaning all day long.4 For day and night your hand was heavy on me;my strength was drained as in the summer’s heat.Selah
5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not conceal my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah
Leader: This is God’s Holy Word.
Family: Blessed be God of the Word and those who hear it and do it.
An old axiom says, “good meat makes its own gravy,” and…
If you are a child of God.
And if these verses do not stir your affection for God…
If these verse doesn’t cause you to praise God…or have joy because of God, maybe you should check to see if you know the One true God. Think about what the Psalmist is declaring to us and for us, despite us. Think about what God has done for us because of Jesus.
Our transgressions are forgiven.
Our sins is covered.
There is no charge for our iniquities.
We can confess our transgressions knowing…
He not only forgave us our sin, but He has removed the guilt of our sin.
Praise God for this truth even if you do not feel it’s true.
Praise God that our feeling do not stop God from doing what He has already done, is doing, and will do. This morning, He wants to persuade you that His forgiveness is true and is or can be for you. But before we go into forgiveness of sin, let’s be clear about what sin is.
What is sin?
Sin is missing the mark of being like God (in character or His commands).
Sin is when we don’t meet God’s holy and righteous standard.
Sin is going against God and His perfect and blessed ways.
Augustine defined sin as “a word, deed, or desire in opposition to the eternal law of God. What we say. What we do. Even our motives can be sinful against God
Notice, how sin is always first against God.
In the Bible there is a story about David and how he, a man after God’s own heart, sinned against God with Bathsheba, and towards her husband by having him killed. David wrote Psalm 51 after his sins. He wrote,
1 Be gracious to me, God, according to your faithful love; according to your abundant compassion, blot out my rebellion. 2 Completely wash away my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I am conscious of my rebellion, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against you—you alone—I have sinned and done this evil in your sight. So you are right when you pass sentence; you are blameless when you judge.
Maybe you are asking, what point is Valentine trying to make?
Son has nothing to do with us first, our personal preferences, or some of the mistakes we make. Sin is always an affront to God first. According to verse 4, David understands that his sin with Bathsheba and towards Uriah, her husband were secondary. Whenever we sin, it’s always against God first and us second. Always. In addition, sin is the only thing one needs to repented of, not unintentional mistakes or someone expressing or going against our personal preference. At times we may need to offer an apology, but repentance is not always required. Ok, I see how you are looking at me.
- An apology is motivated by worldly sorrow.
- Repentance is motivated by godly sorrow.
- Apologies are offered in our strength.
- Repentance is done in God’s strength.
- An apology mostly deals with feelings.
- Repentance is done by faith.
- An apology can be self-centered.
- Repentance is God-centered.
An apology doesn’t necessarily involve a turning from something.
Repentance always involves a turning from sin towards God through Jesus. Again, we all make mistakes, but not all mistakes should be labeled as sin.
Then there’s a personal preference. A personal preference is a decision you make or prefer about yourself for yourself. It deals with what you think and not what God has said or even desires. As good as our intentions might be, a personal preference is always personal, so when someone speaks against your personal preference, or does something that offends you, repentance is not warranted. My point is that repentance deals with sins we have committed against God, first, then each other. Sadly, local gatherings have divided and marriages have ended over mistakes and/or personal presences rather than sin. However, love should be present. Kindness expressed and truth spoken in love.
Allow me to stop and gather myself before I say this. If it doesn’t offend or grieve God, first, we should not want or desire repentance. I digress, so let me get back to my main point. Sin is always against God first, but because of Jesus and through Jesus, He offers the gift of forgiveness because we all have sinned against Him.
In case you think you are unique or even special, and you are, Romans 3:23 says, For all have sinnedand fall short of the glory of God; When we don’t seek His glory, we will sin against God, and we all will continue to sin against God. But a child of God should be sinning less, and they grow in their love for God. Plus, we have the promise of 1 John 1:9. Ok, enough about that, I think, at least for now.
When it comes to God and the forgiveness of our sin, I want us to understand what it means, and the eternal safety wrapped up in this gift. In his book Unpacking Forgiveness, Christ Braun has helped me understand the gift of forgiveness more than I would like, but it has both blessed and challenged me. He defines God’s forgiveness this way.
Forgiveness is a commitment by the one true God to pardon graciously those who repent and believe so that they are reconciled to him, although this commitment does not eliminate all consequences. Did y’all catch those blessed words within this definition. “Commitment,” “pardon,” “graciously,” “repent,” “believe,” and reconciled.” From this definition I want to highlight a few things concerning God’s forgiveness.
First, God’s forgiveness is a commitment.
This word forgiveness means a “release” or a “dismissal” of something. The forgiveness God offers us in Jesus is the release from God’s just and eternal wrath and the complete dismissal of all charges against us because He’s committed to us. To take it even further, God doesn’t only forgive us because of Christ, He makes us just as righteous as Christ, in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. This means, and hear me on this, God commits and promises that He will no longer holds any sin against us regarding our relationship with Him.
Our relationship with Him never changes. We are forever His son and daughter. In HIs eyes, we are declared NOT GUILTY, made righteous, the term for this is justified. That is, God makes a legal and eternal declaration that we are no longer condemned for our sin. The reason we can be justified is that Jesus became our sin offering, paying the penalty for sin and God credits His righteousness to us. In Christ, God sees us just as righteous as His perfect Son, Jesus. Talking about the commitment of the one and only true God. Praise God. That’s not is. There’s more.
God’s forgiveness is gracious.
We don’t have to do anything to earn it. It’s a free gift that came at a high cost. When Jesus, on the cross, said, It is finished (John 19:30). Do you know that that meant? And while it is THREE words in English, it is ONE word in Greek. One guy said, “Never before and never after was ever spoken ONE WORD which contains and means so much. It is the shout of the mighty Victor. And who can measure the depths of this ONE WORD!” When Jesus Christ uttered this one word, TETELESTAI, He was saying that the sin debt for mankind was “PAID IN FULL!” This debt we owed, and this debt we could never pay, but Jesus paid it all. I like that sentence in the ole hymnal,
Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe; Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.
For nothing good have I Whereby Thy grace to claim; I’ll wash my garments white In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.
He paid it all.
What grace. What forgiveness, but there’s more.
God forgiveness is conditional.
I know, I know, some have been taught different, but look at the definition.
Forgiveness is a commitment by the one true God to pardon graciously those who repent and believe. God’s forgiveness is for those who repent and believe. I know it sounds like a paradox but lets take one of the most quoted verses and see. John 3:16 says, For God love the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. Did you catch the condition?
God loves you, yes.
God gave His Son for you, yes!
God wants you to have eternal life, but it’s for everyone who believes. Implied in this belief is also repentance. We believe in God through Jesus, we then turn from our sin to God in Jesus. Chris Braun in His book says, …”God’s offer of forgiveness is universal, in that He extends it to all of humanity. But the reality of forgiveness is only for those who accept the conditions of faith and repentance.” The question is what the goal of His forgiveness, but I need to say it again.
Back to the definition.
God’s forgiveness leads us to reconciliation.
This is important because “forgiveness lays the groundwork for and begins the process of reconciliation.” Without forgiveness there is no reconciliation. Without it, reconciliation is impossible. While it is true, that God’s forgiveness removes the shame of our sin, and the guilt of our sin. But those are secondary to us being reconciled to God. L. Gregory Jones writes: People are mistaken if they think of Christian forgiveness primarily as absolution from guilt; the purpose of forgiveness is the restoration of communion, the reconciliation of brokenness. 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 says, 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come! 18 Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. 19 That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and he has committed the message of reconciliation to us. Wow, did you catch that in v.19a,That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them. The way to God is able to reconcile with us is not to hold on our sins against us. This is what God did and is what God is doing for those who are in Christ. One last point and I am done.
Back to the definition.
Forgiveness is a commitment by the one true God to pardon graciously those who repent and believe so that they are reconciled to him, although this commitment does not eliminate all consequences.
God’s forgiveness does not remove all consequences.
I will never forget, one Sunday after service, and after I had talked about sin, a young lady came to me and said, we can always choose our sin, but we can never choose our consequence, that’s on God. And while true, we must see what and why God allows us to suffer the consequence of our sin. Chris makes a point I want us to hear and consider. He writes, The reality of consequences raises a question: if God truly forgives, if he no longer holds the sin against the forgiven, then why are there still consequences? The answer is that God disciplines his own not for the purpose of punishing them but for his glory and for their joy in the future. These consequences are not punishment. Rather, they are how God trains and teaches. This is so true, but I also believe that even in the midst of while we suffer consequences from our sin, God can sanctify us but He can also work miracles for us, to remind us He is for us.
Illustration of Halliburton job interview and job offer. I learned that my past cannot trump God’s present power. He’s able.
But in the end, I agree with Paul when he says in Romans 8:28, We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. God allows us to face the consequences of sin for our own ultimate good, that we may eventually share more fully in His holiness and reap an abundant harvest of righteousness and peace. So how should you respond rather a believer or not. I’ll by stating Isaiah 1:18-19 to you, “Come, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are crimson red, they will be like wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land.20 But if you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.”For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
Hearing this from the Lord, how should we respond?
Come to God.
Settle your sin with God.
Lovingly obey God.