To Be Forgiven

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 ESV)

What hope do we have to earn forgiveness? To receive mercy from a perfect God who requires perfection to be in relationship? None in and of ourselves. But in Christ there is great hope. In Christ it is accomplished and forgiveness delivered. By believing in Jesus, that he lived the perfect life and died as a substitute for us, we gain his righteousness and relationship with the holy God. We also are given the way of forgiveness for all of life.

If we confess, and let’s be honest, we have much sin to confess, he is faithful and just to forgive us. Jesus is faithful to once again apply the forgiveness he gives you through his blood and he cleanses you anew from all the filth once a burden. It is a privilege worth celebrating and worshiping about; that we can confess, be forgiven and experience Christ’s righteousness as our own.

There is no penance or work to prove we are better. There is no earning the mercy and there is no uncertainty over if he will give it to us. We are free to confess. Free to be honest about our each and every sin — all of the times we have turned from Christ toward other things. And he is faithful and just to forgive. Faithful because it is ongoing and constant forgiveness. Just because he fulfilled the law for you, his blood met the wrath against sin and justice has been served.

Do you recognize this freedom today? Go to Jesus, confess and know you are forgiven. Live in light of his righteousness that is yours and feel free to dance a little. This all is really good news.

Why you so mad Bro?

” When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them.” (Acts 5:33 ESV)

The council was miffed. Enraged even and ready to kill. How dare these punks come into the temple and challenge us. They just haven’t behaved and keep preaching the name of this Jesus. There is a lot of this type of tension in the Bible. A message is proclaimed, it makes people jealous or just plain nervous and they set out to kill. And what was it that they heard and became so enraged?

“The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” (Acts 5:30-32 ESV)

Did you catch that? Sure there was that piece about killing Jesus, but that was true so what could make the council so angry? Repentance and forgiveness.

Turning from the old ways of rebellion and being forgiven. Why were they not rejoicing at the preaching of this message? They could be forgiven! For some reason, the Spirit of God had not transformed their hearts in such a way that they recognized their need for repentance and forgiveness and we can look on this account and think, ‘bummer, you missed such a good message.’ But then I realize that I get enraged at the message too.

I love that I am forgiven. I don’t love that I need to repent. And I don’t love that others are forgiven because frankly, I don’t like them and want to keep this grace things for myself alone. When I don’t extend grace and forgive in the way I have been forgiven, I reject the message with the same veracity that the council did in Acts 5. I don’t say this to guilt us into forgiving but instead to throw us with more force to Jesus and his eternal, matchless forgiveness. I know I am prone to being enraged, and I have met plenty of people enraged when I am the one preaching grace and forgiveness. But in all cases the way of hope, the way of salvation is Jesus.

I need not be angered by the message of grace. I benefit greatly, beyond my imagination actually. And I have no need of being enraged when others preach it, hear it, embrace it and live in the midst of it. Because of who we are in Christ we can now revel in this message of forgiveness. We celebrate it. Get to work on celebrating today.

Unfazed by Grace

“The servant fell on his knees, imploring him, “Have patience with me, and i will pay you everything.” Matthew 18:26

As we finish the first full week of lent we have reveled in the truths of Jesus’ grace for us, his lifting of our burden, his marriage arrangements and his silencing of the accuser. Today we will think on “how grace impacts not only our self-perception but also how we perceive and treat others.”

Think of those people in your life that are hard to forgive. Maybe the old friend that has betrayed you one too many times. Or the boss who shows you no love and expresses her low opinion of you to others. Maybe the spouse that is selfish and demanding. Why is it hard for us to forgive them, or even graciously interact with them? Have we missed something in the connection between the grace we have been given and the grace we are called to give out?

Just as we are pondering these questions Jesus tells the story of the indebted servant. The servant owes his master an exaggerated amount of money – one impossible to pay back.

When it comes time to repay, instead of asking for forgiveness, the servant asks for more time. “The debtor thought the way out of his trouble was by working harder.” If only he could extend the term of his loan then he could work off the debt. But there was no amount of time to earn those kind of wages. We do this too. We see our problems and sin and think, ‘I can get this under control if I have more time…’ We are so enthralled by ourselves we have no need of a savior.

“Then, in a stroke of mind-boggling generosity, the master forgave him all, but the debtor remained as he was: convinced of his own innate goodness and ability to deliver himself…” The servant, “continued to believe in his own goodness. He had too high an opinion of himself and too low an opinion of the king. He was unfazed by grace.”

From his forgiveness, the servant goes to a fellow servant and demands payment of a small debt. When we read this we get mad at this ungrateful louse and the ungracious way he lives in response to the forgiveness he has been given. Surely we would never live like that…

This reality can make us feel guilty. But guilt is not the point. “This understanding of your inability to love your neighbor isn’t primarily meant to make you focus on yourself and your unwillingness to forgive; it’s meant to drive you to Jesus.”

“The only way you can begin to love those you hate is to drench – and I mean absolutely drench – your proud, despairing, demanding soul in these words: “Jesus died for sinners.”

“He has great pity for you and has released you and forgiven you of the great debt that you owed him. And although you’ll continue to fail to love your neighbor, he never will. Now, because of the stubborn grace that loves you in your selfishness, you can be at liberty to love others.”

Look to Jesus. Let his grace sink in. Love others.

Lenten devotion from Comforts from the Cross by Elyse Fitzpatrick. Day 7.

Repentance

“We can only lay bare our sinful hearts when we are certain of receiving forgiveness…” Brennan Manning.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

“Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful…” Joel 2:13

You can be certain of your forgiveness in Christ. Come to him.