Do you receive it?
Forgiveness of sin is a wonderful gift of God and, as with any gift, it must be received in order to take effect. In the first post, I explained the wonderful way in which God forgives and gives us an example to follow. His grace in giving us forgiveness is too wonderful to comprehend, yet simple enough to follow if we are willing. The problem comes not in the amount God gives, but in the way we receive it.
Why would you want forgiveness? Too often we get caught up with the fact that we deserve the consequences coming to us because of our actions or words. That is, of course, once we have come to the point where we recognize that it is SIN, against God’s perfect standards. This is not a lie, however the devil seeks to use this truth to distract you from the greater truth of God’s grace, giving you forgiveness because you do not deserve it! We accept it because we want to give God glory. It is about love. You love God, right? Well then everything you do is to give Him glory. 1 John 2:12 tells us that we receive forgiveness “for His name’s sake.” By taking the gift, we show to the world how great our God is. We accept the gift of forgiveness for our redemption and salvation. It is about freedom. Colossians 1:14 reminds us that it is through the forgiveness of our sins that we are saved by God! He has paid the penalty for our sins, so the only way we can escape the death penalty for them is to receive His forgiveness. We accept the gift of forgiveness to be blessed. It is about joy. Romans 4:7 says, “Blessed are them whose sins are forgiven.” The joy that comes from being forgiven is a blessing that God wants us to have, the freedom to live as He has called us, without being bitten by the past. Finally, we accept this gift for the power that we receive from the Holy Spirit. It is about power. In Acts 26:18, Jesus tells Paul to have his eyes opened, “in order to turn ... from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, ... to receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.” When a person receives forgiveness, they receive the gift of the Holy Spirit living in them, which is power for sanctification (being made holy) and to live God’s way.
So, how does one receive this gift of forgiveness? The Bible tells us of four things we must do to take the gift. First, we must humble ourselves. That is, recognizing our helplessness without God, and acknowledging His power. We need Him. He created us to be in relationship with Him. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says “If My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and forgive their sins ...” It is about humility. We can only receive forgiveness if we first humble ourselves and seek that right relationship with God. Second, we must confess our sins. 1 John 1:9 reminds us that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, and will forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” To confess is to agree with God that it is sin, and that it violates His standards for righteousness. It is about confession. We can only receive forgiveness when we recognize that our action or word is sin according to God, and that we acknowledge that before God, and often people. In fact, Daniel’s prayer (9:9) reminds us that our sin is rebellion against God! Third, we receive forgiveness when we repent of our sins. In Acts 2:38, Peter instructed the crowd that to receive forgiveness, they must “repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” To repent is to not just acknowledge sin, or even to express regret for committing it, but to make a full 180-degree turn, committing to not doing it again. It is about repentance. We must be fully committed to change, and angry with God at the sin ... angry enough to never want to see it again. Finally, the hardest one of all, we receive forgiveness when we recognize that God’s forgiveness is given and is never retracted. Jeremiah 31:34 tells us, “... I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” God has a special lake for our sins where He throws them in, then puts up a “No Fishing” sign. Our great God forgives a sin once, then says “It is done.” It is about completion. When the devil reminds us of those sins, we must remind him that they are forgiven and done.
Have you received God’s forgiveness for your sins? Do it today to receive the freedom and blessings that come as a result!