I believe in: Forgiveness of Sins
I believe in...
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins
Gospel centred Christians bang on about this "forgiveness of sins" a lot. Why?
Well, two main reasons come to mind. One is that if you feel the weight and guilt of sin, you need to know there is forgiveness! But, two, if you don't naturally feel the weight of your sin, you need to be reminded that all have sinned and it needs to be dealt with.
Sin is like a metastasised cancer. The first step to dealing with it is to get the diagnosis. Once you know it is there, then the treatment can commence.
Our only treatment is Jesus Christ. And he offers a miracle cure!
What is Sin?
Although sin is the best word to describe it, we can use other words such as transgress, trespass, wrong, immoral, rebellion and others to mean the same thing.
The classic illustration for sin is an arrow aimed at a target. If you miss the target, the arrow is said to have "sinned". When we have morally failed to hit God's "target" we have sinned.
But there more to it, it's not just an "oopsie, I missed". Sin is relational disfunction. When someone is unfaithful in a relationship they break down the relational connection. It is disrespectful and unloving to deliberately act in such a way as to hurt someone you love. When we sin against God, we are acting in a way that communicates to God that we want to be separated from Him.
Remember Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden? When they ate the fruit they were announcing "We'd rather preference ourselves over a peaceful and joyful relationship with God."
Sin is crime. If I break Australian law, I should rightly be charged as a criminal and suffer the justified punishment - whether it be fines or imprisonment or whatever. That is justice. When we break God's divine law that is binding on all people we are committing criminal acts against the Judge of the universe.
Sin is also transactional. One of the most famous descriptions of sin from the New testament is accounting. In the way that we have sinned we have racked up debts against God. God doesn't usually smite us from heaven as soon as we sin. We store up for ourselves guilt. Like a credit card, we swipe away knowing that we don't have to pay till later.
Sin is treason, like a citizen who acts treasonously against their own country to subvert the defence and sovereignty of their home nation. When the Christians sins, it's as if they are being disloyal to the Kingdom of God and inviting foreign powers to rule in God's place.
Everyone has sinned. All of us have sinned against God in some way, and none of us have the power to expunge our guilt. It is quite common for people to initially think that once made aware of sin, that they can work hard to undo or overcome their sin, but the older you become and the more you behold the Holiness of God, the more you can see how far reaching and inescapable sin is in your life.
Because we have sinned, we deserve the just and fair punishments that the righteous God gives.
"The one who sins is the one who will die." Eze 18:20.
How can we be Forgiven?
That's the bad news, but there is good news! Christianity exists because God has come in grace and kindness to deal with sin!
Although he knows our sin, although we made this mess ourselves, God has mercifully condescended to us to lift us out of the bog of sin and rebellion that we wallow in.
"When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross." Col 2:13–14.
In Christ, God takes away sin. He forgives. He overlooks the evil and wickedness that we have committed so that we can be reconciled to God. He does not deal with us as our crimes deserve.
But the guilt, the debts that we have racked up do not just disappear into thin air. God is just, and righteous, and so atonement must be made for God's people. That is what Jesus did with his death: "God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus." Ro 3:25–26.
Someone had to deal with the debt. If you have a mate who lend you money you are indebted to them. Now if after a while that say to you "your debt is forgiven" it's worth remembering that while you benefited from their generosity, it wasn't free. Your mate lost out in order to help you. God looses out in order to be generous to His people and provide forgiveness of sins. Christ made atonement through his body, and God has expressed incredible patience and forbearance by withholding His punishment so that we might be made right with God.
Anyone can now be reconciled to God, not matter the sins they have committed, because God has made an atoning sacrifice with Jesus. Anyone who accepts the sacrifice of Christ in faith can have forgiveness of sins. Accept Christ and you accept rescue (salvation) from the effects of your own rebellion toward God.
This is good news! This is Gospel! Jesus saves!
We believe in the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ our Lord.
"All the prophets testify about [Jesus] that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” Ac 10:43.