Tag Archives: forgiveness of sin

The Charges Against You (Matthew 27, Mark 14)

I woke up in the middle of the night last night, and couldn’t get back to sleep. After tossing and turning for what seemed like hours, I finally gave up, turned on the light, and finished a Christian fiction novel I had begun reading a couple days ago.

The main character, who had given her life to the Lord about three-quarters into the story, had been drugged and sabotaged by her conniving assistant. When the truth came out, the assistant, flanked by two police officers, stood before the main character. The guilty assistant was facing prison time for her crimes.

“Do you want to press charges?” one of the officers asked.

Then, because she realized how much God had forgiven her, the main character looked at her assistant and felt sorry for her. “No,’ she replied. “I won’t be pressing charges.”

Sounds very Christian.

Until you read the Scriptures I read this morning.

Sometimes we are led to believe that when we ask Jesus to forgive us, He simply erases the ledger. He doesn’t press charges. But that is not true. Those sins you confess don’t just go away. Each one comes with a death sentence, and saying, “My bad,” doesn’t make them disappear, no matter how sincere you are.

There is a price your sins and mine demand. It’s an awful, painful, serious price to pay. And a Holy, Just God demands payment.

Jesus paid.

He heard every lie, every insult. He felt every fist, every thorn, every lash, every nail. His blood poured out of His body like yours or mine would have flowed. He died a very painful death. His death was our death sentence.

Jesus didn’t go through all of that to simply let you off the hook. He endured that pain to pay for your sins and mine. Every sin. The debt ledger wasn’t erased. It was paid in full.

If you confess your sin you will be forgiven. But the charges against you have been made, and you have been found guilty. Accepting Jesus as your Savior means accepting the fact that He paid your death sentence. He took on Himself the punishment you deserve.

I pray you have received what Jesus died to give you, the forgiveness of your sin. But never think what He did was merely dropping the charges. It cost Him much more than that.

Chosen Or Not? (Matthew 22)

Does God choose to save some people, and choose to not save others? Matthew 22:14 says that is clearly the case. Like it or not, God in His Sovereignty clearly accepts some people and not others.

BUT… do not take this verse and expect it to stand on its own. Read the first 13 verses of this chapter, too.

The invitation to the king’s banquet went out to everyone. Some people rejected it on their own. Others dropped what they were doing and accepted the invitation. But one who accepted the invitation was rejected by the king.

Why was this man rejected? Had he received the invitation by mistake? Was the invitation never meant to be extended to him because the king didn’t have him on the guest list? No! The man was rejected because he had come to the banquet on his own terms, not wearing the clothing provided by the king.

The man wasn’t rejected because the king didn’t want him there. The man was rejected because he himself had rejected the king’s provision.

Here’s God’s plan of salvation: Jesus died to pay the death penalty for every sinner who has ever lived. Forgiveness and eternity is extended to ANYONE who accepts it. Jesus died once AND FOR ALL. And God chooses to save anyone who comes to Him on His terms.

Also in God’s sovereign plan is the invitation. Scripture tells us God is drawing all men to Himself. He came to seek and to save that which was lost – and we are all lost because all have sinned. He continually reveals Himself to the world through nature and the Gospel so that no one has an excuse when on that day, every person will give an account for their response to God’s grace.

God doesn’t write anyone off until they stand before Him wearing their filthy rags instead of His own righteousness through the blood of Jesus. Many are called. But only the few who accept His invitation according to His demands are chosen.

That means you! If you have never gone to God on His terms, through His Son Jesus, by repenting of sin and accepting forgiveness through His blood, God has chosen to reject you. No one goes to the Father except through the Son. That’s God’s sovereign plan. He’s very clear about that.

But rest assured… if you come to Him today and accept what Jesus died to give you, you will stand before the King of kings wearing the proper attire, the righteousness of Jesus!

I’m praying for you.

Seeking and Sought (Mark 4-5)

Jesus went to the people. We see Jesus going through a storm to get to the demoniacs. These men, possessed by awful demons needed Jesus, so Jesus sought them out and healed them.

The people went to Jesus. Jairus for one, then a large crowd, then a woman who had been ill for twelve years all sought Jesus. They recognized their need and sought out the One who could meet their need.

John MacArthur, in his study entitled “Twelve Ordinary Men,” and in the chapter on the Apostle Philip talks about the “classic tension between sovereign election and human choice.” Both, Dr. MacArthur says, exist in perfect harmony.

Jesus Himself said this: “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

We see our God, tirelessly revealing Himself, drawing all men to Himself, not willing any should perish, seeking us, calling us.

We see us, created with a God-sized void in our lives, trying to fill that void with all kinds of worthless idols. Idols of self, positive thoughts, money, relationships, alcohol…

We seek. God seeks.

And when our seeking meets God’s seeking, His sovereign plan is fulfilled. We are saved.

What a wonderful Savior. What a loving God.

Friend, I hope that if you have not yet received the forgiveness of your sins through Jesus’ work on the cross, you will recognize that is exactly what you are seeking. That is exactly what you need and what your soul longs for. And I hope that you understand that God Himself is seeking you! He wants you to know Him. Will your seeking meet His today?

That is my prayer.

Convicted (Psalms 32, 51, 86, 122)

These psalms have a lot to say about the forgiveness of sin. David said that when he lived with his sin, God’s hand was heavy on him. He had no strength, he groaned all day. David’s experience (and my own) tells me that the force of God’s conviction affects every part of our lives.

But when David confessed his sin, God forgave him and surrounded him with songs of deliverance. Instead of feeling the guilt and shame of his sin, David could confidently say this:

Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. (32:1-2)

David knew that when he confessed his sin, his whole life was changed:

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow. (51:7)

And, instead of  being weighed down by guilt, David could pray:

Restore to me the joy of your salvation. (51:12a)

David’s groaning turned to real joy when He asked and received God’s forgiveness. He knew God wasn’t interested in religion, or in David’s animal sacrifices any more than God is interested in our good deeds:

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (51:16-17, emphasis mine)

This God who lays a heavy hand of conviction on us who sin, doesn’t make us miserable because He is mean or vengeful. Listen to David describe God:

You are kind and forgiving, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you. (86:5)

David could say those things with confidence about God, even when the guilt of his sin caused him sleepless nights and agony. David knew…

In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me. (86:7)

Are you being convicted by a sin you’ve not confessed? I would urge you to bow your head right now, and ask God to forgive you. Turn from that sin and toward our God who is abounding in love to those who call on Him. He will answer your prayer. Then, with David, you will be able to say:

For great is your love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of the grave. (86:13)

Amen!

 

Call It What It Is (Leviticus5)

Sometimes we can rationalize our sin. We call it a mistake, or an accident, a momentary weakness, or lack of will-power. We might feel better about our transgressions – but God is not looking at our sin for anything other than what it is:

Sin.

That truth occurred to me this morning as I read what God said to the people who could not afford to bring an animal sacrifice. He told them they could bring a handful of fine flour and give it to the priest. BUT… they were to bring the flour without adding oil or incense to it. Just the flour.

They were not to try to dress it up, or to make it smell better. They were to offer the flour in its natural form. It was their sin offering – not a mistake offering.

Let’s stop trying to camouflage our sin. Because unless we confess our SIN, I’m not sure God forgives us. I don’t read anywhere that Jesus died for my momentary weakness or for your lack of will-power.

Jesus died for sin. We need to confess our sin. Let’s call it what it is.

December 6; Giving the Most Precious Gift

Romans 8:18-11:10

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe with your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved…foe “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-10, 13)

I hope you remember that experience in your own life, the day you confessed and believed that Jesus is the risen Savior, the day you became a child of God as you called on the name of the Lord. I hope you think about that day often, and celebrate the truth that your sins are forgiven, and eternity with God is ahead.

We are in the midst of getting ready to celebrate Christmas. Most of us have our shopping lists, the names of loved ones written next to the ideal gift we plan to give them. But Christmas is more than that, isn’t it? It is about Jesus.

If you have not called on the name of the Lord, and allowed Him to forgive your sins, to rescue you from eternity without Him, let me encourage you to do that today. In the hustle and bustle of the season, take a minute, and picture that baby lying in a manger surrounded by shepherds, kings, and angels. And understand there is only one gift He wants. He wants you.

You are the most precious gift you could ever give to Jesus, the one who loves you more than you know.

December 4; Double Paying A Debt

Romans 2-4

God, through Paul, tells us all  have sinned. No one reaches God’s glory, His holiness. We can’t come close.

God’s holiness is the plumb line, and all of us have deviated from that line of perfection. If you believe you haven’t, you are delusional. That deviation is called sin. And we will find out in chapter 6 of Romans that the penalty for sin is death.

It is therefore impossible to make up for sin by doing good things. Doing good things is not death. And sin demands death.

Now, think through this with me. If all have sinned, then you and I are sinners. If the consequence for sin is death, the only way you or I can pay for our sin debt is by dying, which would mean going to hell.

Paul tells us Jesus paid what it is impossible for us to pay in this lifetime. You cannot die to pay for your own sin, then live again. But Jesus can – and did!

You can’t die, spend some time in hell to satisfy your sin debt, then wake up one day and continue life on Earth debt-free. But Jesus did exactly that for you!

The only thing you or I have to do in this lifetime is to take what Jesus died to give us. He paid the price for our sin, yours and mine. He’s standing there holding a “Paid in Full” receipt. Yet some will ignore what is right in front of them, and pay their debt themselves. They would rather face judgment on their own, instead of wearing the righteousness of Jesus.

That’s like double paying a debt. I’m six months from paying off my car loan. That would be like me writing that last check, then going to the bank and saying, “I’d like to pay for my car again.” That would be crazy.

But I think refusing what Jesus died to give you is crazy, too. You can live a debt-free life right now, forgiven of sin, with an unimaginably fabulous eternity ahead. Or you can plant your feet and take on the challenge of paying your own debt.

Just understand, you’ll have to die to do it.

October 23; The Truth Will Set You Free

John 7:53-9:34

If you know someone who is unsure whether or not Jesus is really God, point them to these passages in John. Because not only does Jesus repeat the Truth, He demonstrates that Truth in amazing fashion.

Jesus told the Jews that His testimony is true because He stands with the Father who sent Him. He told them He is not from this world, but from above. They asked Him, “Who are you?” and his reply was, “Just what I’ve been claiming to be all along.”

He even told them He not only knew their father Abraham, He existed even before Abraham was born. Then He used the words, “I AM,” which really got the Jews’ attention. That was the name God gave Himself in the Old Testament.

I hope you’ll read these verses in John today. There is so much here!

Jesus told the Jews if they hold to His teaching, they “will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” God’s Truth is not subjective or fluid. God’s Truth is Jesus; the Way, the Truth, and the Life. It is Jesus only who is able to set anyone free from the chains of sin. And, friend don’t kid yourself. If you are living with sin, you are a slave to that sin. That’s the truth.

But holding to Jesus’ teaching, believing He is who He says He is, and accepting the forgiveness of your sin, is so freeing! Have you experienced it? It is life-changing.

Sometimes I think we talk ourselves out of sharing our salvation experience because either we think it wasn’t dramatic enough, or we just wouldn’t know what to say. I love what the man born blind said to the Jewish leaders after Jesus gave him his sight. They were pressuring the man for details, looking for something they could pin on Jesus to get rid of him.

“How did he heal you?” they asked.

“He put mud on my eyes. I washed. And now I see.”

“Impossible,” they insist. “Don’t give credit to Jesus. He’s no better than any of us. He’s a sinner like everyone else.”

Then the healed man said something so profound: “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know, I was blind but now I see.”

Period.

Friend, there is only one Truth that can set anyone free. His name is Jesus. You might not be able to explain the “how” He saved you. But if you know He did, that’s all you need to know. Tell it.

People couldn’t help but notice the change in the man who had never seen a day in his life. It was obvious something had happened. He could see!

And people will see a change in you, too, when God takes up residence in your life. It will be as obvious as a seeing blind man. And when they ask you how, it’s ok to say, “I don’t know. One thing I do know, I asked Him to forgive me, and He did.”

“Once I was lost, now I am found. Once I was blind, now I see. Once I was dead, now I am alive. Once I was a slave to sin. Now I am free.”

That Truth, dear one; the Truth that is Jesus Christ, and only that Truth will set you free, too.

 

 

 

September 23; The Point of the Matter

Psalms 146-147; Nehemiah 7:73-9:37

Is God interested in you? Does He give a thought to the tiny details of your day, or consider those things that lay heavy on your heart? The writer of Psalm 146 tells us to praise the Lord, to put our trust in Him, that the Creator God blesses those whose hope is in Him alone.

Then the psalmist says this about God: He upholds the cause of the oppressed, feeds the hungry, sets prisoners free, gives sight to the blind, lifts up those who are bowed down, watches over aliens, and sustains orphans and widows. The psalmist assures us the Lord loves the righteous, and He is always faithful.

Let’s not hold God to being a God of material blessings only. We can look at the list above and argue that there are starving people and blind people in the world. There are prisoners and destitute orphans, so either the psalmist didn’t know what he was saying, or God is a liar.

Well, let me make this perfectly clear. The psalmist wrote the words God breathed through him, and God CANNOT lie.

I’m reminded of the account of Jesus’ ministry as recorded in Mark 2, when a paralyzed man’s friends went to the extreme to bring him to Jesus who had been healing people’s physical ailments all day. The friends cut a hole in the roof above Jesus, and lowered the man right down in front of Him. Jesus took one look at the paralytic and said, “Your sins are forgiven.”

What? They expected the guy to get up and walk. No one said anything about sins.

Jesus used this situation to make an important point. The physical healing was a bi-product of His real purpose. He never came to earth to give sight to blind eyes, make broken bodies whole, or cure cancer. The point of the matter is Jesus came to save sinners. He came to forgive sin.

I go back to the psalm I read today and see an important word I almost overlooked. God loves the righteous. Not just nice people, not people who do good things and don’t break laws. We are righteous who wear Jesus’ righteousness.

God loves people who accept what Jesus’ blood bought us – forgiveness of our sin. Then and only then, our eyes are open, we are free and fed, no longer aliens and strangers. We are His children, loved, protected from Satan, with the assurance of eternity with Him. We place our trust in Him, our hope in Him alone.

Then yes, God cares about the tiniest detail in the lives of His children. He knows our thoughts, our struggles, our fears. And because we have heard Him say, “Your sins are forgiven,” we can get up and walk, trusting Him to do all things well.

And He does.

August 29; Saving Grace

Ezekiel 31:1-33:20, 40:1-27

God tells us, “The righteousness of the righteous man will not save him when he disobeys…” (33:12) That’s an important truth. It would be like getting stopped for speeding. The officer walks up to your car window and asks, “Do you know why I pulled you over?”

“No, sir, I don’t.”

“Well, Ma’am, you were going 60 in a posted 35 MPH zone.”

“My bad,” you reply. “But last year I made dinner three times for people in my church who had surgeries.”

What are the chances the policeman would ignore your offense just because you did some good things in the past? Not likely.

Verse 12 goes on to say, “and the wickedness of the wicked man will not cause him to fall when he turns from it.” In fact, God later says this:

None of the sins he has committed will be remembered against him. He has done what is just and right; he will surely live. (verse 16)

Sometimes I think we need to be reminded of both these truths. First, we need to know and understand that no amount of good deeds will ever earn us a free pass when we disobey God. Our past righteousness is unable to save us.

But neither is our past sin able to condemn us once we’ve asked God to forgive us. I think that’s often the harder of the two truths to grasp. God will never use the sins washed by Jesus’ blood against us at any time. Ever.

We remember our past – but God forgets our past when we repent, when we turn from our sin. That promise is straight out of God’s mouth. Those sins are buried in the deepest sea as far as God is concerned. Gone. Forgiven. It cost Jesus a lot to make that happen. But He did make it happen.

God is reminding me today that Satan is a master at throwing up our past sins, to keep us chained to the past, ineffective in service to God when we let our past paralyze us. Guilt over a sin God has forgiven is a feeling that doesn’t come from God.

Our past has shaped us into the people we are today. Even our past sins have contributed to who we are, and can be instrumental in how we are used by God to reach others. But I believe God would have us consider our past forgiven, our lives redeemed by the blood of Jesus.

I believe God would have us repent, allow Him to forgive our sins, then have us move on from there to serve Him without guilt, without apology, without hesitation as people who can’t do enough for the One who has saved them.

Have you sinned? Ask God to forgive you. He will. Then move on and be the man or woman God can use to lead others to His saving grace.