“For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring you to God, after being put to death in the fleshly realm but made alive in the spiritual realm.” 1 Peter 3:18
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
Have you ever thought that you were too bad for God to forgive, too dirty for God to clean up, or you’d gone too far to ever come back to God? I have thought all of these things at one time or another in my personal journey. Even before I trusted in Christ I was plagued with guilt and shame at how I lived. Since becoming a follower of Christ, I’ve struggled to accept God’s forgiveness. If you are like me then you have thought, “If I were God I would have given up on me along time ago.” The good news is that we aren’t God and therefore, God hasn’t given up on you or me. In this article I want to help you realize afresh that God’s forgiveness is real and encourage you to trust in it.
The truth is the issue of punishment for sin was dealt with along time ago. 1 Peter 3:18, tells us that Christ suffered for sins once for all. This is a powerful truth. The penalty of all of my sins has already been paid for through the sacrifice of Christ dying on the cross. Christ died so that I may live and that He may bring me into an eternal relationship with God. Do you realize that the path to God is the path of forgiveness? No person will ever stand before God accepted because they were good enough to earn God’s favor, but those who are accepted will stand before God based on His forgiveness. Therefore God wants you to respond to His forgiveness.
The first step to responding to God’s forgiveness is to admit that you have sinned and fallen short of God’s best. It is clear that we are all sinners in need of forgiveness when we think about the results of sin in our lives. How many times do you have to lie before you become a liar? How many times do you have to steal before you become a thief? How many times do you have to kill before you become a murder? How many times do you have to lust before you become an adulterer? The truth is that one sin contaminates the whole life. The goodnews is that through Christ all sin is forgiven.
The next step to responding to God’s forgiveness is to realize that forgiveness is a promise. In 1 John 1:9, God promises to forgive you and clean you up. For God to not forgive someone would make God a liar. God isn’t a lair, matter of fact the truth is your forgiveness is based on God’s unchanging character. John tells us that since God is faithful and righteous we can trust in God’s promise to forgive and cleanse us. Let me illustrate what it means to forgive and cleanse. There was a little boy who loved to play in the mud. This always destroyed his cloths and the boy was always a mess. His mother made a rule that the little boy wasn’t to play in the mud anymore and bought new clothes for the boy. The next time it rained the boy went out to play. Soon the boy was in the mud and having a great time until he remembered the new rule. The boy waited as long as he could to go inside and did as much as he could to clean his clothes, but it was no use. As the boy stood before his mother, the mother looked disappointed because of the mess the boy was in. The boy realized that he did wrong and told his mother, “Mom, I’m sorry for getting dirty after you told me not to play in the mud. I won’t do it again.” The mom said, “My dear son, you are forgiven.” Now the boy is forgiven, but the problem is that he is still covered in the mud. The mother then takes the boy into the bathroom and gives him the bath he needed. She cleans him until all the mud is gone. The boy is restored, no more mud. The same is true with God’s forgiveness. He not only forgives us, but He cleans us up as well.
The last step in responding to God’s forgiveness is to confess our sin. It is one thing to admit that we have sins; it is another to repent of them. Confession means that we admit to God that we are ready for Him to forgive and remove our sins from our lifestyle. Without confession we miss the forgiveness of God. Confession connects me to God’s forgiveness because in confession I’m surrendering to His control. In confession I’m placing my life on the foundation of Christ dying on the cross and rising from the dead. In confession I’m declaring that Christ is my Lord. Through confession I receive the forgiveness that God promises to give.
In closing, I don’t care what you have done; you can be forgiven because of what Christ has done for you. Are you ready to admit that you are a sinner, trust in God’s forgiveness, and confess Him Lord? Now is the time for you to realize that God forgives.