The axe of forgiveness
Posted on December 24, 2010 by Paul Ellis // 20 Comments
Have you ever noticed how Jesus went around forgiving people who neither asked for forgiveness nor deserved it?
A paralyzed man is brought to him. Everyone watches for the physical healing but Jesus says, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven” (Mt 9:2).
A woman caught in adultery is brought to him for judgment. Jesus has famously said that law-breakers are in danger of hell-fire (Mt 5:29) and this woman is a bona fide law-breaker. But instead of picking up rocks Jesus says, “I don’t condemn you” (Jn 8:11).
Why did Jesus do it? Why did he forgive the sick and the sinful?
Because if sin is the root of man’s problems, then forgiveness is the axe. Once Jesus had dealt with the root, he dealt with the fruit. The paralyzed man was healed. The adulteress was empowered to go and sin no more.
Christmas is the time when we celebrate God’s good gifts embodied in his Son. Of the many gifts God has given us, forgiveness is the first. It is the gift that unlocks all the other gifts.
Do you need healing? Take heart – your sins are forgiven! If Jesus has borne your sins, he is has borne your sicknesses as well (Is 53:4). In Christ you have been forgiven of sin and set free from all its effects including sickness. However, if you don’t know for sure that you have been forgiven, then you will have a hard time receiving healing. You may even think that you deserve your sickness or, worse, that God made you sick.
Forgiveness is the gift that everyone needs, but you will never receive it if you think you have to do something to get it. In Part 1 of this study, we looked at three reasons why Christians can never earn God’s forgiveness through confession. In today’s post we will look at three more reasons why Christians never need to confess-to-be-forgiven.
Before you write in and tell me that you find confession helpful and liberating, let me reiterate that I am not against confession. It is good to be open and transparent about our weaknesses and failings. What I am opposed to is the lie that says Christians must confess, or do anything, to maintain their forgiveness. If you routinely confess-to-be-forgiven you’re actually disobeying God and cursing what He has blessed. Instead of being a stepping stone to your deliverance and healing, the Bible teaches that this sort of confession will actually empower sin and minister death to you.
The remedy for any lie is the truth. Here are three more wonderful promises regarding your forgiveness:
4. You were forgiven completely for all time
But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God. (Heb 10:12)
Jesus’ death on the cross was a once-off sacrifice offered for all time. It was perfectly perfect in every respect and there is nothing you can do to improve upon it. Those who take 1 John 1:9 as their justification for trying to earn what we’ve already been given, need to pay more careful attention to what John is saying: the blood of Jesus purifies us from “all sin” (1:7) and cleanses us from “all unrighteousness” (1:9). All means all. “All sin” includes the sins we haven’t done yet and all the sins we have never confessed.
Jesus went to the cross as humanity’s sinless representative. With His dying breath God the Son asked God the Father to forgive us (Lk 23:34). Then having fully satisfied the requirements of the law that stood against us, and having forged a new covenant in His blood, Jesus declared “it is finished” and gave up His spirit. His redemptive work complete, Jesus now sits at the right hand of God waiting for His saints to rise up boldly in their forgiven-ness and put His enemies – sickness, poverty, oppression – under their feet and His.
Jesus will never go to the cross again. If you sin today, He is not going back to Calvary tomorrow. Asking Him to forgive you again is like saying His first sacrifice was not enough – that you really need Him to get back up on the cross. This is disgraceful (Heb 6:6), but “we are confident of better things in your case” (Heb 6:9). Rejoice that His one-time sacrifice paid for it all and you are eternally forgiven. When you sin, guess what – you are still forgiven! God’s grace is greater than your sin. I’m not encouraging sin and if you are choosing to live in sin then you are unacquainted with the grace of God that teaches us to say no to sin. But if you trust in Jesus and His finished work, then rest assured that nothing in the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither life nor death, can separate you from God’s forgiveness. Hallelujah!
5. You were forgiven in accordance with the riches of God’s grace
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. (Eph 1:7)
What is the limiting measure of God’s forgiveness? Is it our performance? Is the state of our confession? No! We are forgiven according to the riches of God’s grace. God is not stingy with grace. How do we know God is gracious? Because He has forgiven us and His forgiveness is 100% a gift. If you have to do something to get it, then it is no longer a gift but an obligation, and God owes you nothing.
Jesus forgave the paralytic before the man had uttered a single word. He forgave the adulterer who was speechless with sin. One didn’t say anything and the other couldn’t say anything, yet Jesus forgave them both. Jesus forgave to demonstrate that He had authority to forgive. Forgiveness is His business, His decision, His initiative, and His gift to us. The only thing you have to do is receive it, and the only way you won’t receive it is if you try to earn it through confession or other dead works.
6. Your sins are long gone
But now, once at the end of the ages, he has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (Heb 9:26b)
The word “forgive” literally means to send away. You sin hasn’t merely been overlooked, it has been abolished (AMP), put away (ASV), and removed (GNB). Neither has God put away your sins in the same way that you might put your rubbish in a bin by the back door – close by and smelly. He has removed them from you as far as the east is from the west (Ps 103:12). If you were to go looking for your sins, you wouldn’t find them. They’re gone! They’ve all been blotted out (Is 44:22).
You may ask, but what about the sin I did just this morning? Like all your sin this one was dealt with at the cross. It was not recorded as a black mark next to your name because God is not in the business of imputing sin (Rms 4:8).
God’s got better things to do than count men’s sins against them (2 Cor 5:19). It is human nature to keep score but this is not God’s nature. God is love and love keeps no record of wrongs (1 Co 13:5). Your Father is not a fault-finder. If you were to ask Him about this morning’s sin, He would say, “What sin? I have no record of that sin. Stop looking for it and look to Jesus.”
You did have a sin problem, but God dealt with it by nailing it to the cross (Rm 6:6). This circumcision of your old nature was not done by the hand of man, but by Christ Himself (Col 2:11). You have been given a new nature with new desires. As you renew your mind you will come to see that although sin is destructive and best avoided, it cannot touch His love for you. God is quite able to deal with your sin and the axe of His forgiveness has already been laid at the root of that bad tree!
Jesus – not confession – is the cure for condemnation
The amazing thing about Jesus is that He forgives us in advance. We “go and sin no more,” not to get free from condemnation, but because we are free from condemnation. The secret to overcoming sin is not found in making promises we can’t keep, but in knowing that Jesus believes in us! Stop examining yourself and examine Him! He’s altogether wonderful. Stop confessing your sins and confess Jesus your Redeemer. Confess that He is your wisdom from God – your forgiven-ness, your righteousness and your holiness (1 Cor 1:30).