Are My Sins Forgiven?


Audio: mp3

“In the blood from the cross, I have been washed from sin.” Much of Christianity today leaves it at that. That day of rejoicing when Jesus took my sins away, oh happy day! But to be free from dross, Still I would enter in. Deeper yet …The Lord is trying to prepare a people who will reflect His character to the world. It is written that when He sees His image perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own. The very fact that He has not come yet is because His image is not yet perfectly reproduced. The reason His image is not perfectly reproduced yet is because His image needs to be restored from such a decrepit state. Man in the beginning, was created in the image of God, but through the transgression of Adam and Eve, man was in a sense recreated in the image of Satan. The possibilities that man had to develop a perfect character were rendered practically impossible except through the mercy of God.

The Debt

There is in the scriptures a parable that shows for us this mercy of God in reference to the state in which man finds himself. This is a profound parable which plays out before our understanding something very clear if we will learn the parable:

Matthew 18:23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. 24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.

This servant had been very unfaithful in his duty and he had come to a point where he had been so unfaithful that he owed his Lord ten thousand talents. A.T. Jones in the 1900s works out that ten thousand talents was worth about 14,400,000 dollars. 14,400,000 dollars was the bill that this man had racked up. Allowing for inflation today in 2013, he owed his lord 360 million dollars. At the average Australian wage, it would take you ever since the day that Noah was born to pay off that debt about 4,930 years of full-time employment.

Could you pay that debt? Do you have that long? This man himself had dug such a hole for himself he couldn’t get out of it. There was no way he could ever pay that debt. But, “the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.

Of course he insisted, ‘Yes, yes, I’ll pay it.’ and don’t we do that? I’ll be obedient, “All that the Lord has said will we do.” Can we do it? We can’t do it, and this is the description of our experience. We owe God a holy life, but we don’t have it to give. What God did and offers to do is He offers to forgive us.

Do you know what it means to forgive? To “forgive” is to “give for“. When God forgives sin there is an exchange. He takes away the sin and gives something else for that sin.

Galatians 1:3 Grace [be] to you and peace from God the Father, and [from] our Lord Jesus Christ,

Is that not the opening that the Lord of the servant would have had? There was his servant, stressing under this situation he had and the first thing the Lord would have communicated to him was, ‘Don’t stress, peace, peace.’

Galatians 1:3 Grace [be] to you and peace from God the Father, and [from] our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:

He gave himself for our sins. He gave for our sins himself and took our sins. These are the practical realities of forgiveness:

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, …

That includes: me.

Romans 3:23 … and come short of the glory of God; 3:24 Being justified freely …

Because we don’t have to pay it, and don’t have that which we need to pay either.

Romans 3:24 … by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth [to be] a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, [I say], at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

To declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, to forgive, and how far does that go in application?

It was possible for Adam, before the fall, to form a righteous character by obedience to God’s law. But he failed to do this, and because of his sin our natures are fallen and we cannot make ourselves righteous. Since we are sinful, unholy, we cannot perfectly obey the holy law. We have no righteousness of our own with which to meet the claims of the law of God. {SC 62.2}

We don’t have 360 million dollars to pay the bill.

But Christ has made a way of escape for us. He lived on earth amid trials and temptations such as we have to meet. He lived a sinless life. He died for us, and now He offers to take our sins and give us His righteousness. {SC 62.2}

What does He offer to do? Not just to say, ‘Here, I’ll just pretend you didn’t sin.’ but to actually take our sins, and to give us, to give for our sins His righteousness.

If you give yourself to Him, and accept Him as your Saviour, then, sinful as your life may have been, for His sake you are accounted righteous. {SC 62.2}

Suddenly that 360 million dollars is paid.

Christ’s character stands in place of your character, and you are accepted before God just as if you had not sinned. {SC 62.2}

These words mean nothing to somebody who doesn’t know his sinfulness. But if you have had glimpses of the wretchedness of your heart, and if you have seen the mess that you have made of your life, these words are vitality to the soul. To know that we can stand before the holy God who consumes sins with just a glance, to stand before Him just as if we had not sinned, is a far, far greater relief than when the taxman says we don’t have to pay our tax.

This went so far as 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, that he made Christ, not to just take our sins but to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

As If

But God doesn’t stop there, does He? He doesn’t just say, ‘Okay, I’m going to accept you and you’re going to stand before me as though you never sinned.’ But that continues in His treatment of us.

Christ assumed the office of his surety and deliverer in becoming sin for man, that man might become the righteousness of God in and through Him who was one with the Father. Sinners can be justified by God only when He pardons their sins, remits the punishment they deserve, and treats them as though they were really just and had not sinned, receiving them into divine favor and treating them as if they were righteous. {OHC 52.3}

When God forgives us our sins, He does more than just pretend they’re not there. He actually treats us as though we never even sinned. It might not mean much to you now, or maybe it does, but these words will be everything to you when you find yourself at the bottom of the pit.

That God would treat me, a sinner, as though my very life was as His own Son, can you say amen to that? Does not your soul just say, ‘Praise the Lord’? We have only covered a few little quotes and yet contained in them is the very principles of eternal life, the very kernel of hope. Without this hope I have nothing. This is the only thing that keeps me alive in this earth, this exchange through the atonement of Jesus Christ, this abundant love of God toward me who is so underserving.

He remits the punishment I deserve. What do I deserve? Death – but not just termination – a long protracted painful death, it’s what I deserve. But God remits that punishment and treats us as though we had not sinned.

It is important that we lay hold of this and cling to it with a tenacity, that no matter how powerful the billows of those temptations Satan throws against us, that we won’t let it go. As we proceed for the rest of the study, remember that. Remember what God’s promise is to you, because we never finished the story in the parable of the servant.

With the Forgiveness of God

Matthew 18:23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. 24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him [three hundred sixty million dollars] ten thousand talents. 25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. 28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence:

A hundred pence in the 1900s was 15 dollars: with inflation today, 375 dollars. What’s that to 360 million dollars?

Matthew 18:28 … and he laid hands on him, and took [him] by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. 29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. 32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: 33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? 34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. 35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

This study is entitled with a question. The question that I need to ask myself in the light of God’s word today is, “Are my sins forgiven?” Are my sins forgiven? Have my sins really, really been forgiven? Am I really justified?

Luke 6:36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. 37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: 38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

Forgive, and? you shall be forgiven. What happens if you don’t forgive? Jesus tells us how we ought to pray. We are advised not just how to pray but what kind of spirit it is that we are to have when we come before God with our needs, with our needs of mercy and forgiveness.

Matthew 6:9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as [it is] in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. 14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Are my sins forgiven? The question actually is, “Have I forgiven my brethren and sisters?” That is the question. With the same measure that you mete, as we forgive those that owe us. Those that have sinned against us in the same manner will God forgive us.

What kind of a forgiveness have you given? What kind of a forgiveness have you got?

Matthew 18:33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? 34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. 35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

To forgive from where? From the heart. You’ve got to be really careful there because the heart is deceitful above all things, and it can make you think, ‘No there’s nothing between me and my brother, nothing between me and my sister.’ But your heart has pulled the wool over your eyes.

As time goes on little roots of bitterness start to come up and you come to realize, if you will, that you haven’t actually forgiven them. Why? Because our forgiveness is not as God’s forgiveness. “Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?” In the same manner of forgiveness as God had forgiveness for us.

How complete does God tell us that forgiveness for our brethren and sisters is to be? Today, Okay, I forgive you. And tomorrow they come and say, I’m sorry; Okay, I forgive you. Then at the end of the day, I’m sorry; Okay, I forgive you. Then again and again what do we do? We get annoyed? If you really cared you’d stop doing it. And a little grudge in the heart comes up.

Matthew 18:21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

How many times is that? 490 times. Is there a 490 in the scriptures? 490 years? Very close to the end of those 490 years, what did Jesus say?

Luke 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

487 years of total despite to His Spirit, to His prophets, they slayed them, they killed them, they persecuted them, and still, so many years later, I forgive you. Then right at the end of those 490 years,

Acts 7:59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon [God], and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

I think that Christ was telling the disciples, You be as patient with your brethren as I have been with your nation. Was it God that cast off the Jews? No, He never cast them off. They cast God off. Those that were amongst the Jews, that were part of that nation, that repented, He received them. Therefore, no, not seven times, but as often as I ask to be forgiven. “Forgive them“.

Forgive them even as God forgave you, in the same manner. When God forgives us we stand before Him as though we had never sinned, and He treats us as though we had never sinned. When my brother offends against me, what is forgiveness? We are to account that they never sinned against me. Yes? Isn’t that the forgiveness that God gives you? If you will? If you will give that forgiveness to your brother or sister. Anything short of that toward them, God will not give it to you. This beautiful quote from Step to Christ (62.2) where this exchange takes place, where we can stand before God completely righteous, is not real to you unless it is your attitude towards your brother.

The Sinner

While we cherish a root of bitterness in our hearts and refrain from considering that that offense was never even committed, my sins are not forgiven.

“But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:15. Nothing can justify an unforgiving spirit. He who is unmerciful toward others shows that he himself is not a partaker of God’s pardoning grace. In God’s forgiveness the heart of the erring one is drawn close to the great heart of Infinite Love. The tide of divine compassion flows into the sinner’s soul, and from him to the souls of others. The tenderness and mercy that Christ has revealed in His own precious life will be seen in those who become sharers of His grace. But “if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” Romans 8:9. He is alienated from God, fitted only for eternal separation from Him. {COL 251.1}

When we get on our knees in the morning and we say, ‘Oh Father…’, if we have not the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of divine compassion, we are none of His.

It is true that he may once have received forgiveness; but his unmerciful spirit shows that he now rejects God’s pardoning love. He has separated himself from God, and is in the same condition as before he was forgiven. He has denied his repentance, and his sins are upon him as if he had not repented. {COL 251.2}

He stands before God just as if he had sinned, because he has. The question is, are your sins forgiven? Not that is the wrong question. The question is, are my sins forgiven?

Forget your brethren, forget what they’ve done to you.

Luke 18:10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; …

Two men went to church.

Luke 18:10 … the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men [are], extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as [his] eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified [rather] than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Who went home justified? Who went home with his sins forgiven? Let’s read it in the original, from the Young’s literal translation:

Luke 18:10 Two men went up to the temple to pray, the one a Pharisee, and the other a tax-gatherer; 11 the Pharisee having stood by himself, thus prayed: God, I thank Thee that I am not as the rest of men, rapacious, unrighteous, adulterers, or even as this tax-gatherer; 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all things — as many as I possess. 13 `And the tax-gatherer, having stood afar off, would not even the eyes lift up to the heaven, but was smiting on his breast, saying, God be propitious to me — the sinner! 14 I say to you, this one went down declared righteous, to his house, rather than that one.

Who was declared righteous? The one who said that he was a sinner? “The sinner“. If he is the sinner, then what is everybody else? Well, they’re not sinners, they’re righteous.

The literal rendering of the publican’s prayer is, “God be merciful to me, the sinner.” … That presents the most marked contrast to the prayer of the Pharisee, who saw everybody’s sins except his own. The publican saw himself as the only sinner. That is the characteristic of true conviction of sin. {August 16, 1894 EJW, PTUK 513.7}

Deeper yet? The characteristic of true conviction of sin is to see ourselves as the only sinner.

He who has learned of the Lord, will see himself to be so great a sinner that he cannot imagine anyone else as bad as himself. {August 16, 1894 EJW, PTUK 513.7}

What did apostle Paul say? “I am the chief of sinners.”

When you receive the words of Christ as if they were addressed to you personally, when each applies the truth to himself as if he were the only sinner on the face of the earth for whom Christ died, you will learn to claim by faith the merits of the blood of a crucified and risen Saviour. . . . {HP 23.3}

What are we claiming? We’ve been claiming what we can according to our faith and understanding, but we need to go deeper yet. Until we will consider ourselves as the only sinner on the face of the whole earth for whom Christ died, not until then will we really be claiming the merits of the blood of a crucified and risen Saviour.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

To confess my brother’s sin? To say, Lord, they’ve thrown a stumbling block in my path… Lord they’re so annoying. No. We are to confess our sins because we are to be as though we are the only one who has something to confess, and everybody else who has sinned against me, they never sinned against me.

Forgiven, Forgotten

But it’s not easy. Human beings are very fragile and we scar easily. It’s so easy for our sensitive little souls to be hurt and the wounds are so deep. How can I ever forget what they’ve done to me? I see the scars, I see the effects in my life and you want me to treat them as though they never ever did anything against me? In my own mind to think it doesn’t exist?

The world says, forgiven but not forgotten. God says that is not forgiving. To forgive is to forget. Until we will forget, we are not forgiven. Doesn’t Jesus say that, I will remember their sins no more? (Jeremiah 31:34) Where He forgives us, He forgets. If you forget something, it’s like it never happened. You’ve forgotten all about it, it never existed. Until I can have this attitude to my brethren and sisters my sins are not forgiven.

Loving Your Brother

But more than just forgetting. I need to treat them as though they never sinned, as though they never hurt me. Do you love God? We’re not so fast to say it are we?

1 John 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

True affection will overlook many mistakes; love will not discern them. {AH 47.2}

Do you love God? Not if you don’t love your brother. And love will not even discern the many mistakes of your brother. If I cannot discern their mistakes, then they’re a saint! Aren’t they? They’re righteous! and I will treat them as such; and God then will treat me as such.

Philippians 2:3 [Let] nothing [be done] through strife or vainglory;

If you think that everyone else is better than you then you’re not going to strive, are you? You’re not going to be vain because you’re a worm and no man.

Philippians 2:3 [Let] nothing [be done] through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

But said, I am a worm and no man (Psalm 22:6), and esteemed other better than Himself. This is the mind of Christ. When He took the sins of the whole world upon Himself, He really took the sins of the whole world upon Himself, meaning that He was THE sinner, and everybody else had not sinned. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.

Roots of Bitterness

Are my sins forgiven? You can cut the tree down. You can cut the weeds out, but you’re left with the roots and they need to be dealt with too.

Hebrews 12:14 Follow peace with all [men], and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 Looking diligently …

Looking where? Looking in your own heart,

Hebrews 12:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble [you], and thereby many be defiled;

It’s there under the surface. But then in the right environment it shoots forth. Until then you didn’t know it was there. You could be harboring something against someone for many, many years, and then right there, just as probation is about to close, in the last second, the devil can come in with that stimuli, that right provocation and because we haven’t dealt with it, it’ll come up, and you’re lost, I’m lost. Almost saved.

Is this a hard saying? Just picture it, there is this publican, and over there this Pharisee has paraded himself in front of everyone. Have you ever felt that the church is full of Pharisees? Do you find Pharisees a stumbling block in your church? Oh, I hate Pharisees, I do, I hate Pharisees. You know why I hate Pharisees? Because I’m a Pharisee. And Pharisees don’t get along with Pharisees. If I want to experience forgiveness as God promises me, I need to consider them as a saint, everybody else as a saint, better than my own self.

Are my sins forgiven? Not if I haven’t forgiven you. This is a hard saying, may God help us to hear it.

Amen.

Posted on May 24, 2013, in Divine Service Sermons and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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