God's forgiveness and our sin
by Gini Crawford, MSW
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There was a man who loved God, but went through a season in his life when he loved himself and sex much more. This man went so far as to have intercourse with another man’s wife, then tried to cover it up by killing her husband. I am sure all of you are thinking how horrible! Yet God called this man, a man whose heart was completely His.
... his heart was not wholly devoted to the Lord his God, like the heart of his father David. 1 King 15:3b NASB®
To me, calling King David after these heinous sins, a man who fully loved God doesn't make sense. Yes, it was David the famous King from Israel's past, who had done these sins. If any man did those things now, we would say, the guy is wicked. And David was wicked in God's eyes (2 Samuel 12)! Yet God knows we are all sinners, all too well. In reality we are all enslaved to sin unless we have believed in Jesus Christ.
Enslaved to sin explained
Some of you might not know why we are enslaved to sin, so let me give you some background about sin: Sin means disobeying God. Sin also separates us from God (which is spiritual death), because God is holy and can have nothing to do with sin (Isaiah 59:1-2). The history of sin starts in Genesis 2:16-17, when God gave Adam and Eve just one command that they needed to obey. They were not to eat fruit from one certain tree in the garden, that had many other trees they could have eaten from. However, they just had to eat from the tree that God had told them not too (Genesis 3). Their disobedience brought sin and death into the world, gave us all a sin nature that is enslaved to sin, and made us God's enemies because of our sin. (Romans 5:8-19).
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned ... For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son... Romans 5:12, 10 NASB®
Why in the world did God give Adam and Eve even one command, since He knew (Psalm 139) they would disobey Him? Our free will. God created us in His image (Genesis 1:27), so we have a free will. Granted our free will is limited compared to God's, but it still gives us abundant freedom to choose, even whether to obey and love God, or not. Sadly, Adam and Eve chose to use God's incredible gift of freedom to do the opposite of what He wanted, and they ate from that tree.
Adam's and Eve's disobedience put us all in slavery to sin - we had no choice but to sin. We could say, sin became our slave master. Think of what slavery means: When you are enslaved, you have to obey whatever you are enslaved to. We were definitely enslaved to sin, only obeying sin with no hope of being set free from our slavery, and the result of slavery to sin is death (Romans 6:23). Ephesians 2:1-3 describes how we are when enslaved to sin. You will notice from this passage we enjoyed this state of disobedience against God.
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. Ephesians 2:1-3 NASB®
We are redeemed from slavery to sin
Throughout history many people were slaves for various reasons, but to free a slave it always took a payment by someone, either a payment of money or labor, or even the sacrifice of one's life for the slave. We could never redeem ourselves from slavery to sin because we kept doing what got us into slavery to begin with – sin. Could anyone pay our ransom to save us from bondage to sin? Yes, Jesus bought or redeemed us out of slavery to sin when He died on the cross.
Only the One True God could pay the ransom for sin. This is because sin is against Him. He is the only One without sin, and as the Creator, the only One that has the power to pay for our sin (Psalm 32:1-5; 51:1-12). Without Jesus' sacrifice we were going to pay for our own sin through our death and eternal punishment (Romans 6:23). However, out of unconditional love, Jesus joyously paid our ransom with His life (Hebrews 12:2). His death paid the price our sin demanded so we could be redeemed or bought out of sin and delivered from death and eternal punishment. (Matthew 20:28; Romans 3:9-24; 1 John 4:9-10).
... knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 1 Peter 1:18-19 NASB®
Our freedom of choice, whether to sin or not, is given back to us through belief in Jesus Christ and what He did for us. As Christians, we have been set us free from our slave master sin. Through God's Spirit we receive the desire and power to obey God, and to hopefully not choose to go back to the slave master, sin. When you choose to obey God, you are enslaving yourself to His ways, and the outcome is always life and life eternal. Yet, if you choose to be a slave again to sin, remember you are obeying something that God will never bless, you are strolling down a path of darkness away from God, and sin never accomplishes God's righteousness - what is right and good.
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:12-23 NASB®
Faith in the One that saves us from sin
Jesus Christ's death also brought full forgiveness of past, present and future sins. Having God's forgiveness is more wonderful than words can express, but how do we receive that forgiveness? Faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 10:43).
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses ... Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him (Jesus) receives forgiveness of sins. Ephesians 1:7; Acts 10:43 NASB®
Throughout the ages, to be saved from sin and its consequences, everyone has had to have faith in God (Psalm 32:1-5; Habakkuk 2:4c; Hebrews 11). In the Old Testament times they looked forward to the Messiah’s (or Christ’s) suffering death to save them from their sins and bring them into a right relationship with God.
Who has believed our message? ... He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter ... Unjustly condemned, he was led away. ... But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people. He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave ... Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants ... And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. Isaiah 53:1-11 NLT
In New Testament times people were more enlightened about the Christ, because He had lived among them, died and had risen from the dead (1 Corinthians 15). People knew Jesus Christ was the Messiah because He had fulfilled completely the prophesies about the One who would suffer and die for their sins (Isaiah 53).
But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:20-21 (NIV)
Sin will bite
Why could God talk about King David, as a man whose heart was wholly His and didn't have to count David's sins against him? It is because of what Jesus Christ did for David and for us by living and dying for us. David trusted God to save him from his sins and to forgive him. Do you?
I believe David was a believer in the Messiah years before he sinned in such an awful way. We get this from David's life's story (1 Samuel 16). As Christians we need to be on our guard against the temptations of sin, or sin will get a hold of us, like it did David.
Here is a humorous but true example about staying away from the dangers of sin. We had this big black dog named Woofer. Even though he looked like a killer because of his size, he was too stupid to realize his strength and his options. I would take him for a walk almost daily, in a large, natural and wildlife filled area near my house. At times, he would run ahead of me and when I caught up to him it wasn't unusual for him to be standing inches away from a rattlesnake, oblivious to the danger. I don't know why he never got bitten except by God's mercy, and maybe the snake was as dumb as he was. Was I being dumb too? Whether I was being dumb or not walking in that danger filled area - I am being stupid and you are too, if we go through life ignorant to the dangers of sin. We need to treat sin as we would a rattlesnake - stay away from it and not even play with it, unless we want a lot of trouble and pain.
God's forgiveness is always there
After David realized how horrible of a sinner he had been, he confessed he had sinned against God, and then trusted in God to forgive his sins. God erased them from his life, just as if David had never done them (Psalm 103). David was fully forgiven, but he suffered consequences from his sinning spree until he died. God will always forgive us through Jesus! Yet, sin does have consequence in the physical realm even though God has forgiven you. These consequences can affect us, sometimes greatly, such as losing a good friendship because of gossip.
David's attitude of confession and trust is seen very clearly in Psalm 51.
A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba. Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me ... Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God ... Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me ... Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me ... You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, God, you will not despise. Psalms 51:1-17 NIV
We have all done shameful things whether we want to admit them or not, because the Bible tells us we have all sinned and done what's evil in God's sight (Romans 3:9-18). Some of us have done sins that society thinks are so awful, that people shun us. Some of us have done things we think are unforgivable, so we feel God certainly doesn't love us. Yet, we need to remember, God's love and forgiveness will never stop. Other people might not love and forgive us, but God always will. This is because His love and forgiveness doesn't depend on our actions, but on His action in Jesus Christ.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. NASB®
Life Application: As Christians, we are never condemned because of sin. (Read Romans 7:15 - 8:4, 31-39). This is because Jesus' death erased our sins as if we had never committed them. His death literally cleansed us from any and every sin we have and will commit. Yet, sin affects our relationship with God, like when a child disobeys his parent. So since we are so loved and forgiven by God (Who is Holy and hates sin) shouldn't we agree with Him about our sins, because we love Him? Think about confession this way - confessing your sins is the grandest and easiest way God could gave you to be so quickly close to Him again. Summarize in your own words: 1 John 1:9 and Luke 11:2-4. Since God has forgiven you, shouldn't you forgive others?
If you are reading this devotion for Lent: Lent is a time of self-reflection done with an attitude of sincerity-honesty. It's a time of penitence – the action of feeling or showing sorrow or regret for sins. In other words, sorrow or regret you are obeying sin not God. Three traditional practices to be done with a renewed commitment during Lent are: (1) prayer (2) fasting (3) giving. Thinking of these three practices, Lent would be a marvelous time to sacrifice extra time in prayer. You could do this by making a prayer list of family and friends (You are giving, and fasting busyness for them.), who need prayer, then committing to pray for them, an extra amount of time each day.
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