“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
I have only been married for two-and-a-half years. I do not claim to know a lot, but what I do know is that, in our marriage, we have to be quick to forgive one another when we mess up. One of the most important things about forgiveness is the act of telling the other person they are forgiven. I don’t know about you, but when I don’t know for sure she has forgiven me, it’s like walking on eggshells. We are scared to mess up because we are insecure about what the other person is feeling. One of the most liberating things is when a person communicates these three words: “I forgive you.” It’s a game changer. All of the sudden, you go from tiptoeing around landmines to dancing in an open field with no cares in the world. This chapter could be the most liberating chapter of all. Last chapter, I talked about the “bad news,” but in this chapter, I will be telling you the “good news” of Jesus Christ. If we do not understand the fact that our sins are forgiven, we will tiptoe to avoid landmines, but the catch is, there are none for those who are found in Christ.
In the Gospel of John, chapter 5, there is a story about a pool of water surrounded by five colonnades. There was a local belief that an angel would randomly come down and stir the water. When the water starts to spin, the first person into the water would be healed of whatever sickness they suffered with. Because of this belief, you can imagine that a lot of sick people would hang out here hoping to be the first one into the water. Among this multitude of people was a man who had been paralyzed for more than thirty-eight years. The Bible records that Jesus walked up to this man and asked him “Do you want to be healed?” When asked this question, he responded by saying that he did not have anyone to help him to the water. Then Jesus told him to pick up his mat and walk, and he was healed.
At first glance, when we think about this man’s answer to the question, “Do you want to be healed?” it seems crazy that he didn’t say yes. He actually made up an excuse for why he couldn’t be healed. A lot of times, we are like this man when it comes to receiving forgiveness. Satan tells you that when you sin, you need to make up for your bad deed with good ones before you can be forgiven. If we believe this, we are spiritually paralyzed and cannot walk into the life God wants for us. We simply need to confess our sins, and they are forgiven. Jesus is holding out his hand saying, “Do you want to be forgiven?” How you answer is up to you. You can say yes, and be instantly forgiven, or you can believe the lies of Satan and make up reasons why you can’t be forgiven. Psalm 103:12 says, “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” Do not dwell on your past failures that are crippling you. Press on toward the things of Christ. Forget what’s behind you. God already has.
I have preached a lot of sermons in my short life on earth, and most of them are challenging to preach because I am struggling in these areas, as well. I am thankful that God reminds me that it isn’t under my power or authority that I preach anything, but it’s through the power of his Spirit. While writing this book, God has ministered to me in so many ways because I struggle just as much as anyone else. I have realized that it’s a lot easier to tell others about how wide, deep, long, and high is the forgiveness in Christ, but when it comes to our personal sin, it’s hard to accept. It’s as if we feel the need to do good things before God forgives us. The enemy wants you to believe this because it can hold you back from being a person who walks in forgiveness to others. The key to giving forgiveness is to know how much you have been forgiven. The theme in every chapter boils down to one thing: you can’t give what you don’t have. A thorn bush cannot produce an apple, just like an orange tree can’t produce a watermelon. In the same way, if you don’t walk in your identity as a forgiven child of God, understanding the extent of your sin, you will struggle to forgive others when they do something bad to you.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). This verse played a key role in the healing process in my early days of knowing Christ and still plays a role to remind me that I am not who I use to be. It wasn’t until I started to renew my mind with this truth that I was able to forgive myself for all of the things I did in the past, and it serves as a reminder when I mess up now. What is the one thing from your past that you’re still holding onto? The very thing you are holding onto could be the very thing holding you back from enjoying the fullness of life and the joy of your salvation. It’s time to lay it down at the feet of Jesus so that you can receive healing.
Where Are You?
When you think of Genesis 3, most people think of “The Fall” or the first sin. As for me, I would label it as the pursuit. By calling it “the fall,” we are putting the focus on mankind and not on God, who deserves all of the recognition. Learning about the first sin committed by Adam and Eve is important because it describes how we got to where we are today, but more importantly, it shows how God reacts to our sin. Countless people see God as this distant deity waiting for us to mess up so that he can punish us. This story shows us that the opposite is true. He is a father in pursuit of his children.
In this portion of scripture, God tells Adam and Eve, “You can eat from any tree from the garden except for one tree.” Later on, Satan, disguised in the form of a snake, deceived Eve and she ate from the forbidden tree. She shared it with Adam, and their eyes were opened to good and evil. Later on, in the cool of the evening, they heard God walking through the garden, so they hid because they were naked. God was walking through the garden saying, “Adam, where are you?”
God’s first response was a pursuit of his children, Adam and Eve. The funny thing about God is he asks the most odd questions. He asked “Where are you?” God is God and he knows everything, so he knew exactly what bush they were hiding behind. Yet, he still called out to them. God knows where you are in your life, but as a loving father, he does not push his love on us. He gives us free will to decide if we want a relationship with him or not. He is calling out to you today saying, “Where are you?” My question for you is: will you continue to hide in your sin, or will you step out into the light and confess your sins to God to receive forgiveness and healing?
The Gospel simply means “The Good News.” For something to be good, that means that there is something opposite that is bad. If there were no bad news, then all news would simply be neutral news. The bad news is that we are sinful human beings. The Bible goes as far as saying, “all our so-called righteous acts are like a menstrual rag in your [God’s] sight” (Isaiah 64:6 NET). On our own, we are not capable of pleasing God. For this very reason, the Father sent his Son, Jesus, to be born from a virgin. He would then live a sinless life, a perfect life, so that he could be beaten and murdered on a cross to pay the sin penalty for you and for me. Through this blood, we can have deliverance from the power of sin and death. He is now sitting at the right hand of the Father, pleading on our behalf. “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him’” (John 14:6-7). The forgiveness of sin comes through accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.