The Past Tense of Forgiveness
What is missing in the way most churches proclaim the Gospel? What is lacking in the understanding of a great number of believers regarding redemption? It is that forgiveness is not future tense; it is past tense! It is not partial; it is total. It is not progressive; it is once for all.
“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,” (Colossians 2:13 NKJV)
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace”. (Ephesians 1:7 NKJV)
Observe the tenses of the verbs in these passages. The Apostle did not say God will forgive our sins. He said, God has forgiven. Not we will obtain “the forgiveness of sins” in the future, but we already “have redemption through His blood.” And according to Paul, this redemption is in fact, “the forgiveness of sin.” That’s the Scriptural definition of redemption. It is, therefore, impossible to be redeemed through the blood and yet be under the condemnation of some unforgiven sin or sins.
“So now, those who are in Christ Jesus are not judged guilty.” (Romans 8:1 NCV)
This truth is reinforced in several other biblical passages. Here is another:
“And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:11-14 NKJV)
What is it that makes the priesthood of Jesus superior to the Old Testament priests? This single fact–how effective He was in dealing with our sins. Their sacrifices took away no sin; His blood took away all sins. Not some, not most, not just past, but all sins! Not one at a time, but all at once! So, if today anyone says, we who are in Him are still under judgment for any sin, this person is denying that His sacrifice took away all sins. In which case, Jesus is just another failed Old Testament priest!
But thank God, He did not fail in obtaining forgiveness for all our sins, once for all. Thank God He accomplished what no Old Testament priest could. Thank God He could sit down once He presented His blood to God on our behalf because no further action is required from Him regarding our sins. The only thing left is for sinners to receive through repentance and faith His gift of total forgiveness in Him.
““Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.” (Acts 13:38-39 NIV)
Put this altogether and it means, if you are in Christ, YOU ARE A TOTALLY FORGIVEN PERSON. When you came into Christ, you came into forgiveness. You came into freedom. You came into righteousness. You are complete in Him.
But what about holiness? You came into holiness too. “For by one offering He perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”
Forgivenesss is not the end of God’s dealings with you. It’s really only the beginning. It makes union possible. It opens the door to what God’s ultimate purpose for you is–to join your spirit to His that He may live His life in you and through you. To make you a completely new creation with new, holy, godly desires and powers.
“But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (I Corinthians 6:17 NKJV)
“Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 AMPC)
Union with Christ means you no longer need to rely on fruitless attempts to walk in holiness through external law-keeping. Holiness is now engraved upon your heart, innate to your new nature inherited and implanted from above. It is no longer a work you must achieve, but a gift you have received. The old and inferior way of trying to restrain your flesh through the Law has been replaced with something far superior and effective–the new nature.
“For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:19-20 NKJV)
How do you practicalize this truth? Acknowledge it. Renew your mind with it and present your body by faith to Christ daily for Him to live and love through it. Then believe.
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.” (I Thessalonians 5:23-24 NKJV)
Child of God, total forgiveness (and everything else that comes with it) is your inheritance. Enjoy it. And please, really, really enjoy God!