Ephesians 1:7. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places… 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses…
Today’s spiritual blessing: forgiveness.
Yesterday we wrote about our redemption in Christ. We have been purchased out of our slavery and imprisonment. We are free. It makes a whole lot of sense that the very next words out of Paul’s mouth are these – the forgiveness of our trespasses. Because here’s what we all know: there is no freedom if there is no forgiveness.
The Law’s demands and even the demands of our own conscience have left us guilty. And where there is guilt, there is shame. And where there is shame, there is hiding. Forgiveness calls us out of our hiding.
“Adam where are you?” “Eve, where are you?”
“We were hiding because we were naked.”
“Who told you that you were naked?”
“Here, wear these fur coats I made for you. Stop hiding. I love you. Your forgiven” (or something like that).
The good (but really, really hard) news of union with Christ is that Jesus is really good at dredging up all of our mistakes and failures. He’s really good at bringing things into the light – exposing our nakedness. He pushes on all our fears, and shames, and doubts, and idols. This is what the crucified life does for us. The cross of Christ confronts us. It forces us to admit our neediness and complete dependency on Christ. It forces us to face our reality, especially the reality of our sin, suffering, and shame.
BUT Jesus is also really, really good at wiping out all of those failures and mistakes and sins and catastrophes that we call “living.” The forgiveness of God in Christ is absolute. It is complete. It is forever. It is final. It is accomplished. The penalty and power of sin is eradicated from our eternal lives.
This is why we are able to fearlessly confront our sin and shame now. This is why we go boldly to the throne of grace in time of need. Not to find forgiveness, but because we have already found forgiveness – we have…the forgiveness of our trespasses.
- we have – present, active, a state of being.
- forgiveness – release, pardon, cancellation, letting go.
- trespasses – offense, wrongdoing, specifically breaking God’s law.
We live in a state of forgiveness. All crimes pardoned. All debts paid. All penalties cancelled. All offenses reconciled. All transgressions removed.
Psalm 103:12. as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
Have you ever been forgiven by someone (besides God)? I have. I know what it’s like to live in a state of forgiveness.
Years ago as a pastor I found myself in the middle of a conflict with another pastor (my boss) in the church. It became public and ugly for a while. My selfishness caused division in the church. Long story short God, in his grace, restored the relationship. It was really hard. I had to forgive. And I had to ask for forgiveness. I stood up in front of the whole church and asked them to forgive me. And they did. That was over a decade ago. I’m still a pastor at that same church. People actually still listen to me (most of the time). And do you know how many times someone has brought up what happened all those years ago? Never. I’m the only person who has ever brought it up again (as testimony). But I am keenly aware that I am living everyday within a state of forgiveness. Of forgotten sin. Of pardon.
Have you ever felt that? Now multiply it by one million million with God.
This forgiveness means no more penance. No more making retribution. No more “keeping short accounts with God.” There is no account. The books are closed. The debt is forever satisfied. It means that the primary mechanism for growth in the Christian life is no longer the never ending cycle of sin and confession: sin, confess, repeat. Your confession does not produce God’s forgiveness. Our forgiveness is through his blood. Not through our sincere words of contrition. Rather, it is God’s forgiveness that produces our confession. Because I am fully forgiven I am able to freely approach God and agree (confess) with God about my sin. This agreement does not pardon me. Christ’s shed blood pardons me. Period.
Forgiveness means that all of your sins have been sent away along with all the objective and subjective guilt that they bear. But “to live is Christ” also means that Christ is constantly at work in you to expose your sin and bring it into the light of redemption. Jesus has made you free, and he wants you to live in the freedom that your forgiveness through his blood has purchased for you. Our forgiveness in Christ is alone what allows us to experience the freedom from sin that Christ secured in his dying and rising. Only when we are truly forgiven can we face and fight our sin and pursue holiness. Only when we are truly forgiven can we “to live is Christ.”