He said "Don't," but I did. He said "Do,", but I didn't. He said "Stop," but I kept going. He said "Keep going," but I stopped. He said "Give," but I kept. He said "Keep," but I spent. He said "Go," but I stayed. He said "Stay," but I went. He said "Louder," but I stayed silent. He said "Be quiet," but I shouted. He said "Now," but I waited. He said "Wait," but I did it anyway. Over and over I sinned. Over and over He forgave. And that is "Good News"!
God offers to both forgive and forget our sins so we may be restored to a right relationship with Him. This offer comes as a free gift because He loves us, not because we have earned it.
Before we can take advantage of this gift we must have an attitude of repentance toward our sins. We play no role in the offer of forgiveness, but we must do our part in the application of it to our individual lives.
We cannot repent of our sins unless we are aware of them. Therefore, when the Holy Spirit creates such an awareness within us and shows us our need of repentance He is not trying to crush us under a load of guilt. He is trying to help us reach a position where we can receive the Father’s forgiveness.
The prodigal son (Luke 15) and the adulterous woman (John 8) were each aware of their sins and thus each received forgiveness through God’s grace. The prodigal’s older brother and the woman’s accusers remained unforgiven until they recognized and repented of their sins.
So when a passage of Scripture or a sermon causes us to feel guilty, we must refuse to be angry and resentful. We must not start the internal rationalizations that blame others for our shortcomings. Instead, we must praise God for his efforts to further sanctify us by allowing us to travel down a hallway called Grace through a door name Repentance into a room labeled Forgiveness.
With gratitude and humility we need to make this journey every day.
Public repentance (which preachers often call for from the pulpit) may be more difficult for a Christian than for an unsaved person. This is especially true when that sin was something that directly damaged another person. Such behaviors include adultery, character assassination, robbery and fraud.
A Christian is usually aware an action is sinful before he does it, but he still chooses to do it. He ignores God’s teaching. He knowingly breaks God’s laws. On the other hand, the unsaved may not have been aware of God’s prohibition of a specific action. He had no moral compass to ignore. He can often truthfully say “I did not know it was wrong.”
When the Christian faces his sin He must say “Forgive me, Father. I knew I was sinning and I did it anyway.” The unsaved can approach God with “Forgive me. At the time I really did not know I was sinning.”
A Christian is likely to face public embarrassment in his social circle when he confesses and repents. The unsaved person faces no such condemnation from his friends because to them he was only doing as expected.
Our prior knowledge of good and evil may make repentance after salvation more difficult than our original repentance at the time of our salvation. If we had assurance from fellow Christians that they would be as forgiving and accepting as our Father, repentance would be much easier.
Jesus accepts us each time we return to Him and acknowledge our sins. He instructs us to accept our brothers and sisters just as quickly and completely. He will give us the ability to do so as we lean on Him.
I sin. Every Day. Sometimes my sins are by commission. Sometimes they are by omission. But they are still sins. Some of them I’m aware of. Some of them I never recognize. Some are accidental. Some are intentional.
But I do not have to ask God for forgiveness. All my sins – every one of them – were forgiven when I became a Christian seventy years ago. This included sins past, sins present and sins future.
This calls not for a request of “Please forgive” but an affirmation of “Thank you, Father.” My attitude toward his action is eternal, massive gratitude and devotion.
That forgiveness guarantees me a place in heaven where I will spend eternity praising Him. It also permits me to have an earthly relationship with Him that includes peace, protection and power.
This is a total gift. His grace precludes any action on my part. And that, my friend, is GOOD NEWS.
Jesus told the parable of the man who was forgiven a big debt by his master but would not forgive a friend of a small debt. Basically the man would not pass on something he had been given…forgiveness.
Is it a misapplication of that story for me to apply this to myself and the salvation I have been given? If I do not help others find the salvation I received as a gift am I displeasing my Master the way the ungrateful servant did his?
I sinned…again. I know it. My family knows it. My friends know it. My church knows it. God knows it. I know that God knows it.
It was a huge, ugly, stupid, selfish, no-excuse-for-it, hurtful, Satan-directed sin.
I went to God in my prayer closet and the sin was so large and fresh that it dwarfed all else in our relationship. It was just God and me and my sin.
I tried to pray, but all I could say was “I’m sorry.” After the first time it just rolled off my tongue in a continuous cry “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
I was almost ashamed to stay in His presence. I was too repentant to say anything else, but I was too hopeful and desperate to leave.
I started to say “I didn’t mean to do it,” but realized it would be a lie. I did mean to do it, but I went ahead anyway. I knew it was a sin and I knew what I was doing.
I added “Please forgive me.” Part of my mind understood that He had already done that, but part of me needed to ask again and again. (Is it a waste of time to ask for something you have already been given?)
I wasn’t sure there was any grace still available for me. Had He already dismissed me as a hopeless case? I tried to let myself believe He might someday want to commune with me like we did before the sin.
Finally, I slowly began to realize that God never gives up on me. The Holy Spirit made me aware that God had forgiven me and he would teach me to forgive myself. Only then could I leave my closet and take my place in His kingdom as a beloved child of the King.
God said “Don’t!”
But I did.
God said “Do!”
But I didn’t.
God said “You sinned.”
I said “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”
God said “Okay.”
I said “Is that all it takes? Is that all I have to do? That was easy.”
God said “For you, maybe.”
I said “What do you mean ‘for me.’ Those were private sins. No one else is involved.”
God said “All sin requires punishment.”
I said “Please don’t punish me.”
God said “All right. I will let Jesus’ punishment on the cross apply to your sins.”
I said “Thank you, Jesus.”
And I will continue to say it as loud as I can throughout all eternity.