God is No Longer in the Forgiveness Business
Take another look at the title of this article. What was your first reactionary thought? Someone who has been duped by traditional, legalistic or mixed-covenant doctrines might go into a panic, while another begins to scream accusations of heresy.
Here is what a predominately law-based Christianity has neglected to tell you: There is no longer the need for God to keep extending or performing the act of forgiveness to each individual, nor is it necessary for Him to do it over and over again. One who has realized the plenitude of grace and truth found through Jesus Christ will recognize this as the very foundation upon which the good news gospel is built. God already did everything required for us through the work of Jesus Christ—a finished work. It’s called faith.
Religious entrepreneurs have developed a product we’ll call “frequent forgiveness” that hungry people are craving, and unfortunately, business is booming. Hallowed church institutions have messaged a hollowed gospel, building their business upon the premise that forgiveness from God is something that people need to keep repeatedly seeking throughout their entire lives.
The religious “covenant” being made with you through a typical church membership states in no uncertain terms you are still identified as a sinner with an evil heart who needs to keep getting clean by chasing after more and more of God’s forgiveness whenever you make a mistake, commit a sinful action, or have a tainted thought. The problem? Other than “the moment” when you confess to God you’ve committed another act of spiritual treason, you’ll never be quite sure exactly where you stand with Him at any given time. You’re trusting in your confession instead of Him.
It’s hardly a prescription for acquiring blessed assurance. But it has ensured Church Incorporated of repeated patronage from “customers” who feel the need to keep coming back for more of something they think has been used up or dissolved. Sadly, they remain uninformed—as believers in Christ—that they have been made the righteousness of God and have been forgiven (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 2:13, 3:13; 1 John 2:12). Therefore, even though sinful actions may still occur (verb), you are no longer identified as a sinner (noun). You are identified by birth, not your work.
Priests under the Mosaic law were always standing as they prepared to issue a temporary atonement of forgiveness which required repeated blood sacrifices. They did not sit because the job was never done. But Jesus shed his blood by offering one (1) sacrifice for sins and then sat down! See the contrast? A priest doesn’t sit when he is getting ready to extend another act of forgiveness. If that were to occur, more blood would have to be spilled. He isn’t shedding any more blood! (see Hebrews 9:25-26). That’s because it isn’t needed.
“Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin” (Hebrews 10:18).
I know even some who are considered “giants of grace teaching” will hesitate to say it, but the Apostle Paul was not … and that is … God was reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting trespasses against them (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). Therefore, the message is simple: God did all that was necessary in reconciling the world to Himself when it comes to the issue of sin, therefore, be reconciled to God. Confess the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead. Trust in the completed work He did on your behalf (Romans 8:3-4).
“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
Blending a combination of the Old and New Covenants together usually gets our thinking mixed-up and turned inside out. I find myself constantly untangling many confusing doctrines and mindsets I was taught over the years, but let’s not get this backwards. For example, consider this possibility: God didn’t forgive you when you chose to believe—because there is no blood involved with that—it’s actually the other way around. You believed because He has forgiven through Christ.
Before coming to the knowledge of His saving grace, most of us were probably of the mindset that God was “ready and willing” to forgive if we professed faith in Jesus. Although it may have surpassed our understanding at the time, we chose to believe once our heart realized God has already chosen to forgive unconditionally through one bloody sacrifice, thereby receiving the gift already offered and resulting in salvation, bringing God’s life and righteousness within us as a new creation in Christ.
With the Old Covenant set aside and out of the way, and the New Covenant now established, the message from the traveling apostles to the Jews was to proclaim the forgiveness of sins:
“Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:38-39).
Ka-boom! Jewish minds were being blown. Proclaiming forgiveness as already completed? Simply believing in the work of Jesus brings eternal life and freedom? What about the law of commandments we’ve embraced for so long? This was new. This was different. This was a covenant far better, lighter and easier. But for many people then and now, it just sounds too good to be true.
To be clear, this is not meant to declare a universal salvation. Although we often identify them together, forgiveness and salvation are not synonymous. Jesus offered a single sacrifice for sins for all time (Hebrews 10:12). Again, all sins for all time. However, forgiveness will not benefit us if we are still spiritually dead in the sinful state of Adam which we once inherited. We receive the forgiveness that brought redemption by believing in the Son in order to have spiritual life.
“Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:12-13).
You see, John stated Jesus is the propitiation for the sins of believers and the whole world, but now it comes down to who has eternal life.
Both believers and unbelievers struggle with sin (verb) in this fallen world. The blood of Jesus shed for the sins of the world is not a respecter of persons. The difference between these two groups of people isn’t a question of who is forgiven, but who has been made alive and who continues to abide in spiritual death. Don’t remain in a state of unbelief—a sinful condition— where you will be judged according to your deeds (John 8:24). God has so graciously offered His very life that will empower you. Live from that life and rest in Him. It will change everything.
For more on avoiding the trap of religious bondage inside of a new and better covenant, and also gaining a better understanding of the teachings of Jesus, get the book: Clash of the Covenants: Escaping Religious Bondage Through The Grace Guarantee.
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