Sin originated in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve sinned against God by disobedience to God’s command; “you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” <Gen.2:17 (NIV)>; they believed the lie of Satan and did what God had told them not to do, and so all mankind inherited the sin-nature and the judgment that ensued <see Rom.3:23; 6:23a>. So, we find that sin prohibits all mankind from entering heaven, for heaven is the abode of God and is a holy place, nothing evil will ever enter God’s heaven <see Rev.21:27>. Therefore, to the sinful person the forgiveness of sin by God becomes the most important difficulty to deal with, for the sinner has broken the command (law) of God and only God can forgive the sinner, only God can forgive sin <Mk.2:7b; Acts 5:30-31; 1 Jn.1:9>.
It is imperative that all persons understand that there is no human mediator for the forgiveness of sins, each of us must go directly to the One that we have offended. The person Job, facing the difficulties in his life, asked the question: “But how can a mortal be righteous before God?” <Job 9:2 (NIV)>, and after much deliberation and frustration with his three friends, finally expressed: “If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more.” <Job 9:33-34 (NIV)>; and after our Lord Jesus Christ was revealed to the world the apostle Paul writing to Timothy said: “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men” <1 Tim.2:5-6 (NIV)>. Therefore, the Lord Jesus Christ is our only means of forgiveness, and forgiveness of sin cannot be obtained by any church, sacrament or ordinance <see Acts 13:38-39; Lk.7:48-50; Mk.2:8-12>.
Three biblical teachings form the basis to forgiveness for sin. First, we see that it is based on God’s compassion for the sinner: “Yet he was merciful; he forgave their iniquities and did not destroy them. Time after time he restrained his anger and did not stir up his full wrath. He remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return.” <Psa.78:38-39 (NIV)>; God’s people, the Jews, had sinned and failed in their relationship with God so often, yet God was compassionate towards them. Secondly, we see that it was based on Divine justice, in that He is able to forgive sin yet remaining holy and just: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” <1 Jn.1:9 (NIV); cf Psa.143:1; Zech. 8:8; Mic.7:18-19>. Third, forgiveness is based on the shed Blood of Christ when he suffered for us on the Cross, as a complete and eternal sacrifice in payment for our eternal redemption: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” <Eph.1:7 (NIV); cf Ezek.18:4b; Lev.17:11>.
God’s forgiveness for our sin is complete, in that, ALL our sins are forgiven, for as we have seen before, nothing evil will enter God’s heaven <see Psa. 103:3; 32:1-2>; and it is important to understand that all sin must be forgiven, for if only one sin remained in the life of any individual that person cannot enter heaven. This means that every believer in Christ has a “present possession” of forgiveness, and does not have to wait until after death to find out if he/she is forgiven, for we have already seen that “we have redemption through his blood” <Eph.1:7; cf Lk.7:47; 1 Jn.2:12. This is our assurance that we have eternal life and will spend eternity with God in heaven.
God’s forgiveness of our sins is also conditional on four acts. First, there must be repentance by the individual, for repentance comes before forgiveness <see Acts 2:38> (also, see Post on Repentance [12/2/21]). Second, faith in Christ must be exercised <Lk.7:50>. Then, third, there must be confession of sin <1 Jn. 1:9; Psa.32:5>, since unconfessed sin cannot be forgiven. Finally, there must be the act of us forgiving others for this is one characteristic of a believer in Christ <see Matt.6:15; Eph.4:32>; and should be a continuous exercise <Matt.18:21-22>.
As a believer in Christ, we must also understand that we are not sinless while we are in this world, but our confession of sin to God should also be on a continuous basis <see Rom.7:18-20; 1 Jn.2:1-2>.
But what about you who are not a believer in Christ? From cover to cover, the Bible emphasizes the need to repent and to seek God’s forgiveness for sin. One such record is that of king Belshazzar who had rebelled against God, and God’s finger wrote his sentence on the wall of his palace; “You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting” <Dan.5:27; cf Rom.3:23>, and this message of the gospel has been shared many times over the decades. How many times have you heard it? What has been your response? Has your name been recorded in God’s Book? The scriptures close with the account of all those who continue to rebel against God, let this not be your final end to life! Confess your sins to God and repent and seek His forgiveness, for no sin can enter God’s heaven: “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” <Rev.20:11-15 (NIV)>.
“If there is no repentance, there can be no pardon. Some years ago, a murderer was sentenced to death. The murderer’s brother, to whom the State was deeply indebted for former services, besought the governor of the State for his brother’s pardon. The pardon was granted, and the man visited his brother with the pardon in his pocket. “What would you do,” he said to him, “if you received a pardon?”
“The first thing I would do,” he answered, “is to track down the judge who sentenced me, and murder him; and the next thing I would do is to track down the chief witness, and murder him.”
The brother rose, and left the prison with the pardon in his pocket.” (Source: Knights Book of Illustrations)
This is typical of all mankind today! God has offered a pardon (forgiveness) to all people, but those who refuse God’s offer will unfortunately face His judgment!