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Sunday, April 2, 2017

Why We Need Forgiveness

Sometimes we fail to see our need for items that would really benefit us if we had them. If we obtain them, we may come to treasure what we earlier thought was unimportant.

On the other hand, we sometimes lose our appreciation for an item after we obtain it. Even if it performs as we had hoped, after a while "the new wears off." It becomes commonplace, and we begin to take it for granted.

In this study we will consider a gift that all of us need, though we may not realize our need. Or we may possess this gift but fail to appreciate it. Either way, our study should help us to appreciate this gift more fully. This gift is the forgiveness of sins.

Luke 7:36-48 describes a woman who had been forgiven of great sins. She was so grateful that she washed Jesus' feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. A Pharisee, however, criticized her because he did not appreciate his own need for forgiveness. Which one are we like? Do we appreciate our need for forgiveness?

To help us appreciate forgiveness, let us consider the consequences of sin. Then let us see how forgiveness solves these problems.


Sin Alienates Us from God.

Genesis 2:17; 3:8 -- When Adam and Eve sinned, they died, not just physically (separation of the spirit from the body), but also spiritually (separation of man from God). They could no longer bear to be in God's presence but sought to avoid Him. [Cf. 3:23,24]

Isaiah 59:1,2 -- Our sins and iniquities separate us from God, so He will not hear and accept our worship.

Colossians 3:6; 1:21 -- God is angry with us for sin and considers us to be His enemies.

Ephesians 2:12 -- People in sin (v1-3) are separated from Christ and without God in the world.

[Cf. Rom. 1:18; 2:5; Eph. 5:6; 4:18; James 4:4]

Forgiveness Restores Our Relationship to God.

Romans 5:6-10 -- Though sin deserves punishment, God loves us so much He sent His Son to bear our punishment so we could be saved. We are justified by His blood. God is now able to completely blot out our sins and treat us as though we had never sinned. Instead of being His enemies, we are reconciled to Him (made friends again).

Ephesians 2:13,17-19 -- Though we were separated and far from God, we can be made nigh by the blood of Christ and have access to the Father. In fact, we become members of His own household (family).

Colossians 1:21-23 -- Our evil works make us enemies alienated from God. But we can be reconciled through Jesus' death. This ought to motivate us to continue steadfastly serving God for, if we are not faithful, we will be back in sin with all its consequences.

Surely when we realize the serious consequences of sin, this should lead us to see our great need for forgiveness. Having obtained forgiveness, we should continue to value it and live faithfully so we can continue in God's fellowship.

[Cf. Col. 2:13; 1:13,14; Eph. 1:7; 1 John 1:6-9]


Sin Is a Barrier Between Us and Our Loved Ones.

This often occurs within families.

Husbands and wives may be alienated by adultery or alcoholism. The husband may misuse his authority, or the wife may be rebellious. There may be bitterness and quarreling, often ending in divorce.

Or the conflict may be between parents and children. Parents may be unloving, abusive, stubborn, selfish. Or children may rebel and become involved in drinking, drugs, crime, or sexual immorality, as when the prodigal son was living in sin (Luke 15:11-13). This may form a barrier of strife between parents and children.

Or children in a family may face conflict caused by jealousy, selfishness, deceit, or hatred, as between Cain and Abel (Gen. 4), Jacob and Esau (Gen. 27), or Joseph and his brothers (Gen. 37).

Alienation may also occur in the church or between friends.

There may be doctrinal disagreement, lying, slander, jealousy, contention, pride, racial prejudice, stubbornness, self-will, etc. (James 3:14-18; Gal. 2:11-14; Rom. 16:17; etc.).

All these tragedies occur between people who should love one another. And the cause of it all is sin.

Forgiveness Reunites Alienated Loved Ones.

In these cases, we must seek to obtain forgiveness, not just from God, but also from the people we offended.

Luke 15:18,21 -- When the prodigal son repented, he confessed he had sinned both against heaven and against his father.

Matthew 5:23,24 -- If we have wronged someone, we must seek reconciliation with them if we expect God to accept our worship. [Cf. James 5:16; Luke 17:3,4]

Those who have been wronged, must be willing to forgive.

Luke 17:3,4 -- If people sin against us and express repentance, we must forgive repeatedly if necessary.

Matthew 6:12,14,15 -- Surely we need forgiveness from God, if we seek a right relationship with Him. Likewise we must be willing to forgive others, so we may have a right relationship with them. If we carry a grudge or seek vengeance and speak evil of one who has repented, we become the sinner, and God will not forgive us.

[Cf. Matt. 18:21-35; Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13; Gen. 42:18-24; 44:1-45:15]

Have you made your life right with those you have wronged? When people repent, do you forgive like you want God to forgive you?


Sin Makes Us Feel Worthless and Defeated.

Sin alienates us, not only from God and from our fellow-man, but also from ourselves.

Job 42:6 -- Job abhorred himself for his sin. When we fully face the consequences of our deeds, we think, "How could I do such a thing?" We are discouraged and disgusted with ourselves.

Matthew 26:33-35,69-75 -- Peter affirmed he would die rather than deny Jesus. Yet before the night was over, he denied Jesus three times with cursing and swearing! Such conduct gives one a sense of utter failure. "What's the use? I'm no good for anything."

Often we react to our feelings of inferiority and inadequacy by using our human abilities to try to dominate other people. This leads to pride, stubbornness, and selfishness.

Sin makes people miserable.

Forgiveness Restores Our Sense of Worth.

1 Timothy 1:12-16 -- Paul had lived as a prominent Jew, convinced he should oppose and persecute Christians. When he saw his error, he viewed himself as "the chief of sinners." Imagine his frustration! Yet he received forgiveness and became one of Jesus' most effective servants, through whom most New Testament books were written. He affirmed that labor for the Lord is not vain but gives true fulfillment (1 Cor. 15:58).

The apostle Peter, when he had repented of denying Jesus, preached the first gospel sermons both to Jews and to Gentiles (Acts 2 & 10). Surely his disappointment in his sins was overcome by forgiveness and faithful service to Christ.

Matthew 20:25-28 -- The sense of accomplishment we need does not come from dominating others to prove we are superior, nor from fame, power, pleasure, or possessions. Rather it comes from a life of faithful service to God and our fellow-man.

A child may be broken-hearted when he foolishly destroys something of value, but a loving parent may replace what was lost. So we may foolishly ruin our lives by sin, yet God's forgiveness may give us a new beginning -- "newness of life" (Rom. 6:4).

Do you want this blessing? If you have received it, are you continuing to serve God faithfully so you can maintain your sense of accomplishment?


Sin Gives a Burden of Guilt.

Genesis 3:10 -- Adam hid himself from God because he was afraid. He felt guilty and ashamed for his sin.

Psalms 38:3-8 -- As a leader of God's people, David had committed adultery and murder. He said his sins were a burden too heavy to bear (v4). He groaned because his heart was so disturbed (v8). [Cf. 51:1-3]

Matthew 27:3-5 -- Judas' guilt drove him to suicide. Others turn to drink, drugs, or complete moral abandon to escape the reality of their guilt. Still others seek psychological help or some humanistic philosophy to rationalize their conduct.

In our hearts all of us like to think we have been right. But when we face our sins, our consciences are wounded and our pride is offended. Many people live year after year with this burden of guilt, not knowing what to do to make it right or not willing to do what they know is needed.

Forgiveness Restores Our Innocence and Rightness.

Psalms 51:1-3,7-10 -- In his guilt, David pled for his sins to be blotted out, washed, and cleansed (v1,2,9), so he might be white as snow (v7) with a clean heart and right spirit (v10). A man with dirty hands does not have to stay dirty -- he can wash his hands clean. So God can take a soul stained by the filth of sin and wash it whiter than the snow.

Acts 2:36-38 -- The very people who crucified Jesus were pricked in their hearts at the preaching of Peter. They asked what to do about their guilt. Peter said there was a solution: they could have remission of their sins if they would repent and be baptized. [Cf. Acts 15:9; 22:16; Rom. 10:10; Col. 1:22]

The knowledge of guilt is a terrible burden, but that burden can be replaced with a beautiful sense of innocence through Jesus' blood. "Come unto me, all you who ... are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28). Do you want this blessing? If you have received it, do you still act as if you appreciate it?


Sin Causes Fear and Grief.

Genesis 3:7-10 -- Adam was afraid and hid from God, because he knew God would punish him for his sin. Adam's sense of guilt led him to fear God's wrath. Yet hiding from God will not solve the problem for us any more than it did for Adam.

Revelation 20:10-15 -- God will punish us in the lake of fire if we are not forgiven of our sins. After death comes judgment and then eternal punishment if we obey not the gospel (Heb. 9:27; 2 Thess. 1:8,9). This gives the guilty sinner a lot to worry about.

Psalm 38:6 -- Sin also makes us sad. "I go mourning all day long."

Matthew 26:75 -- Peter wept bitterly after he denied Jesus. We should grieve to know that we have offended the Father and Son who love us and have so richly blessed us. We should look upon our past life with sorrow over "all those wasted years."

People who know they are guilty of sin often spend sleepless hours worrying about their eternal destiny, grieving over their sins. They know they stand condemned before their Creator. They are terrified at the thought of death and the judgment. Is this your case? [Cf. Matt. 25:41,46]

Forgiveness Gives Joy and Peace

Psalms 51:8,12 -- Make me to hear joy and gladness. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation. When sins are forgiven, there is no more reason for fear and sadness. No wonder the gospel accounts of conversion are such joyful occasions (Acts 16:31-34; 8:39; Luke 15:7,10,22-24,32).

Philippians 4:4,7 -- Rejoice in the Lord always. The peace of God that passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds in Jesus.

Romans 5:1,2 -- Being justified by faith, we have peace with God and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

Forgiveness can remove the fear and sorrow of sin, replacing it with joy and peace. Do you want this blessing? Do you continue to appreciate it?


Sin Causes Hopelessness and Insecurity.

Ephesians 2:12 -- People in sin are without hope. They "have no hope" (1 Thess 4:13). They may wish they could have eternal life, but as long as they remain in sin, their destiny is eternal punishment instead. But no one hopes for that! So they are "without hope." "The hope of the godless shall perish" (Job 8:13).

Fear causes people in sin to have great uncertainty and insecurity. They cannot look forward eagerly to Jesus' return and life after death. Not even in this life do they have any real security, for they never know when death may befall them.

Forgiveness Restores Hope and Security.

Romans 8:24 -- In hope were we saved.

Romans 5:1,2 -- Being justified by faith, we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

1 Peter 1:3-5 -- Being born again, we have the living hope of an undefiled and incorruptible inheritance reserved in heaven for us. While we remain in sin, the future is hopeless; but if we are forgiven, the future offers hope of a great inheritance. We have security knowing that, if we remain faithful, God's power guards us to that hope. [Cf. Rom. 12:12; 1 Tim. 4:10; Titus 1:2; 3:7]

Psychologists often tell us not to rebuke people for sin because that makes them feel guilty and hopeless. They think we should tell people they are not responsible for their conduct. Actually, however, rebuking sin is the only way to give a sinner hope. As long as one remains in sin, there is no hope. But when he realizes he is a sinner, then he sees his need to receive forgiveness through Jesus' blood. Only then is there hope!

Do you have this hope? Do you appreciate it?


Sin Leads to Punishment.

Matthew 25:41 -- The wicked will go to eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Revelation 20:10 -- There they will be tormented day and night.

Matthew 8:12 -- This is a place of outer darkness.

2 Thessalonians 1:8,9 -- It is everlasting punishment.

This is the destiny awaiting many people. Yet it is so needless, because there is a solution to the problem.

[See also Luke 16:19-31; Matt. 13:39-42.]

Forgiveness Leads to Eternal Life.

Romans 6:23 -- The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. This gift, we have seen, is made possible through Jesus' death in our place (Rom. 5:6-10).

James 5:19,20 -- Since sin is what causes eternal death, if we can lead a person to be forgiven, we can save them from death and lead them to eternal life.

Titus 3:7 -- To be heirs of the hope of eternal life, we must be justified by God's grace. [Cf. 1 Peter 1:3-5; Titus 1:2]

Sin may cause great problems in this life, yet the problems it causes after this life are far greater. Surely we need to be forgiven and escape these consequences. Have you done so? Are you continuing to live so these consequences do not return to your life?


All have sinned (Rom. 3:23), and sin puts an impassable barrier between us and the spiritual blessings God offers us. We cannot go over that barrier or around, under, or through it. The only way for us to receive God's blessings is for that barrier of sin to be destroyed, and the only power in existence to destroy it is the blood of Jesus. God offers that power to all men (1 Tim. 2:4,6; Titus 2:11; John 3:16; Mark 16:15,16). To receive it, we must meet God's conditions. The choice is up to each of us. What are the conditions?

* Hear and believe the gospel -- Romans 1:16; 10:17.

* Repent of sin -- Luke 24:47; 2 Corinthians 7:10; Acts 17:30,31.

* Confess Christ -- Romans 10:9,10.

* Be baptized for the purpose of receiving forgiveness -- Acts 2:38; 22:16; Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21.

At this point, past sins are forgiven. But to continue to receive God's blessings, we must continue to live a faithful life -- Titus 2:11-14; James 1:21-25; Romans chap. 6. If one falls away, he is again in sin, separated from these blessings. Yet his case is not hopeless. He can again be forgiven, if he will repent and pray -- Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9.

Do you need God's forgiveness? Do you need a local church with which to labor in God's service? Whatever your spiritual need, contact the people who gave you this tract and they will be glad to help.

(c) --  David E. Pratte 1/84; 7/96
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