What is forgiveness?

Kim Riddlebarger writes: “Think of the worst sin you have committed—the one sin you don’t want anyone else to know about. Then think of that habitual sin that holds you in a death grip, that sin you cannot stop committing and have confessed a thousand times and still struggle with. Then think of the sum total of all the sins you have committed. What possible chance do you have of making it to heaven if the death of Christ doesn’t satisfy God’s justice toward all your sins?”

How can we be saved when we can all think of terrible, besetting, and constant sins we have committed? Because Christ paid for the guilt of your sins in full once and for all when he suffered and died on the cross. Christ satisfied God’s justice toward you by dying in your place and receiving the punishment you deserve. Christ redeemed you and purchased you with his blood, and he reconciled you to God and God to you. He turned aside God’s wrath toward you. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Because of the person and work of Christ, God’s wrath can no more touch you as a Christian than a hurricane that happened a hundred years ago can harm you. God’s wrath has been satisfied in history for you who believe. All the satisfaction you ever need has been made, and as a result you can lift up your hearts and rejoice and worship your Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

You don’t need to wonder what happens on judgment day anymore because it has been declared to you now. Romans 8:1 says “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Through his perfect life of obedience to God’s law, his death on the cross, his resurrection, and his ascension, Christ has earned righteousness for you. His perfect righteousness is imputed to you as the ground of your justification. God is no longer angry with you because you are now clothed in the perfect righteousness of his Son.

So, what is forgiveness? Forgiveness is seen in the cross of Christ, where Christ bore the weight of God’s wrath against your sins and was cursed in your place (Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 3:18). All of your sins—past, present, and future—were paid for by Christ on the cross. Your guilt, defilement, shame, and punishment has been taken away. As a result of what has happened on the cross, God is for you today, Christian, and not against you (Romans 8:31). Why? Because his justice has been satisfied and his love has been poured out through the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.

If you are interested in talking more about “forgiveness,” you are warmly invited to come and join us for our next Bible study, which takes place tonight (Monday, July 11) from 6:30 to 8 PM.  We meet at 9257 Amsden Way in Eden Prairie.

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