Of all the promises of the gospel in Jesus Christ, forgiveness is at the foundation. “In him we have redemption in his blood, the forgiveness of our sins according to the riches of his grace (Ephesians 1:7).
The removal of sin is necessary for reconciliation with God to happen. Forgiveness is the forerunner to our adoption as children into the family of God and entrance into the kingdom of God. Forgiveness of sin is the assurance that we will be rid of its power to condemn and to control.
When Jesus cried out from the cross, “It is finished,” he was declaring that his death paid sin’s penalty in full. Full payment for sin is the basis of his offering of forgiveness to all who repent and believe.
Forgiveness of sin is the most precious of gifts.
The Bible has many images and metaphors for the forgiveness of sin. The Old Testament priests used two goats to signify how God deals with our sins (Leviticus 16). One goat was sacrificed to show that God’s wrath was poured out against sin. The priest then laid his hands on the other goat as a symbol of sin-bearing. That goat was then released into the wilderness to show how sins are carried away and remembered no more. Two goats, showing that God’s wrath is satisfied and our sins are removed, together communicate the grace of forgiveness.
Isaiah said forgiveness is like having our scarlet red sins washed away leaving behind pure white snow, and having the crimson stain of sin become like wool (Isaiah 1:18).
King David said God removes our sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). Hezekiah said God casts sins behind his back (Isaiah 38:17). Micah said God casts our sins into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19).
In the letter to the Colossian church, Paul is laying out the gospel and expounding on forgiveness. He said our sins are a record of debt against us, with legal demands. Forgiveness in Christ is the cancelation of that record of debt because it was nailed to the cross with him.
We have our ways of describing forgiveness. People say forgiveness is like having chains fall off, and like having the world turn from black and white to color. Others say being forgiven means we can breathe deeply and make eye contact with others.
I love the description of forgiveness in The Pilgrim’s Progress. Christian carried a great burden on his back. He came to a hill with a cross on top and a tomb below. When Christian stood beneath the cross his burden came loose from his shoulders and fell off his back. It tumbled down the hill until it fell into the tomb, never to be seen again. As Christian stood crying with joy over his relief of the burden, an angel greeted him and said, “Peace to you. Your sins are forgiven.” A second angel stripped Christian of his rags and clothed him in fine garments. A third angel marked Christian’s head and gave him a document that would give him entrance into the Celestial City.
Forgiveness is the release of the burden of sin that leads to a new and right-standing with God, and on to eternal life with him.
This Sunday at Grace, we will give thanks to God for the forgiveness that comes with his Son Jesus Christ. We will call ourselves to a spiritual examination, asking ourselves who and what we are trusting for forgiveness. Our prayer is that some will come to faith in Christ and find the burden of sin falling from their shoulders. We pray that all will rejoice and live as those forgiven and made right with God.
This weekend, consider Christ and the forgiveness that comes with him, and give thanks.