In yesterday’s Life Palette blog I said that “forgiveness always changes me”. Today I want to continue with the concept of forgiveness because it is such an important topic for our lives. As I said yesterday, this is about freedom.
So today let’s start with the question: what does it mean to be forgiven? The answer is amazing. When we are forgiven, God looks at us as though we have never sinned before. Rather than seeing our sin He sees the price that Jesus paid for our sins. I don’t know about you, but for me I get excited when I think about this truth.
In Colossians 1:21 – 23 the writer Paul writes: “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation–if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.” (NIV)
Notice the power of Paul’s words, through forgiveness you are no longer alienated from God your loving heavenly Father. You are in right standing; you have a right relationship with Him. Regardless of your past, it’s not about what you do or don’t do it’s about what Jesus has “DONE”!
Five things to do to Receive Forgiveness
1. Acknowledge Allegiance To Christ – Confession
Confession activates God’s forgiveness: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”(1John 1:9 NIV)
Not only does confession activate forgiveness for us but it activates healing for our communities. In 2 Chronicles 7:14 God declares: “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 will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (NIV)
How do I confess? What do I do? There’s a great example of confession found in the life of David after he committed adultery and ultimately murdered the husband of Bathsheba, the woman he’d committed adultery with: “Then David said to God, “I have sinned greatly by doing this. Now, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.” (NIV) Confession really is that simple, agreeing with God that he is right about our sin and communicating that with him. Know this: God, your loving heavenly Father, is wanting and waiting for us to confess so that we can live in forgiveness and freedom.
2. Commit to a new way of life
The second thing we need to do to receive forgiveness is to commit to a new way of life. In Scripture this is known as repentance. Repentance means to simply go in a new direction. In other words, before confessing sin I was pursuing sin, after confessing sin I’m to repent and longer pursue sin but to head in the direction of God and pursue him. Repentance always results in a change of behavior. The good news is God gives you the power, the courage the strength to change your behavior and live in freedom.
3. Accept Gods complete and unconditional love
The third thing necessary to receiving forgiveness and live in complete freedom is to accept God’s unconditional love for us. In Romans chapter 8:38-39 Paul, the writer of most of the New Testament, write these words: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (NIV) Notice that God’s love for us is so complete that no being can separate us from His love when we have received His forgiveness.
4. Develop new habits
To continue to live in freedom and forgiveness the old habits have to go. In Scripture this is known as renouncing sin. Renouncing sin simply means that we are ceasing to participate in it. At this point you may feel like “but I don’t want to cease participating”. And yet you recognize and realize that sinful destructive behaviors are keeping you from living in the freedom that God has for you. These sinful things are destroying your life, your relationship and taking your happiness. What do you do? This is the point where you ask God to change your heart to give you a new desire, a desire to want to participate. Ask Him to give you the power and the strength.
5. Remain In Christ
God’s plan for you is that you not only make a decision to live in freedom, but that you continue to do so every day of your life. The way you do this is to remain in Christ. Jesus said this: “if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you can ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you.” How do you remain? Like any relationship, you need to invest time in your relationship with Jesus. It’s important that you spend time communicating with Him every day, through prayer. It’s important that you let Him communicate to you every day, through His word, the Bible. Make a commitment today at this moment that you are going to set aside time to spend with Jesus through prayer and reading His Word every day so that you will be able to remain in Him and He will remain in you.
There are incredible benefits for living in the forgiveness that God has for us. If we live in freedom, our relationships with others will be healthier (including those who are enemies) and we will live in great joy!