June 30th 2019: Ian Middlemist

Ian Middlemist-November 2018John 8:1-11

The first time you picked up a Bible, as you opened the pages you thought you were studying it. You were encouraged to get into the Bible. But notice, as you grow older as a Christian the Bible is studying you, revealing truths about yourself. The Bible examines you. The book speaks about you. It was written over 2,000 years ago but is scans us inside and out. God knows breathing out this Word, every sin, every thought, every word, everything I have done. There is nothing we can hide from Him. God deals with guilt on the basis of grace and truth.

This scripture passage speaks powerfully to our situations. The Scribes and Pharisees judged the woman according to the law, which clearly condemned her. All of us, like this woman, have been caught in an act of sin and stand condemned in front of God’s holy law. To be caught in the act of adultery meant that the act had to be witnessed, to be actually seen going through the physical movement that could be capable of no other explanation. A compromising situation, such as leaving a hotel room together, would not have been good enough in a Jewish court. It was very likely the Scribes and Pharisees had set a trap to catch this woman so that they could catch Jesus in the horns of a dilemma and get rid of Him. There was a clear motive. Either Jesus would have agreed the woman should be stoned or Jesus would have shown her mercy and would be soft on sin, not upholding the Law of Moses. It was a deliberate trap. They only brought one sinner to Jesus. Why was the man not brought to Him? You can’t commit adultery alone. Maybe he was on the side of the Scribes and Pharisees? We don’t know.

All of us, like this woman, have been caught in the act of sin. We have all had the humiliating experience of getting caught doing something we know was wrong. No matter what the sin, it is always embarrassing. This woman was not only caught in the act of adultery but then dragged into the temple, of all places! All the people would have examined her like a piece of meat. Worse, they accused her in front of Jesus. They were pushing for the ultimate punishment – the act of execution. Even if we manage to keep our sin hidden from others, before God all of our lives are laid bare, ‘And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account,’ (Hebrews 4:13). He knows every simple thought we secretly entertain, every swear word, every hatred – not letting go of those who have wronged us, sin we commit when we’re alone, when we’re away in another city, He knows it all. The reality is every single one of us is caught in the act by God.

Religious people are just as guilty of sin as openly immoral people. We tend to look on the woman in the story as a great sinner and overlook the fact that the Scribes and Pharisees are just as evil, even more so. Clearly, they didn’t care about this woman at all. They could have held her in private custody but they didn’t. She was just a pawn. Their concern is not for holiness in society but to get rid of Jesus. Even more serious, these religious leaders were sinning against the sinless Jesus. They weren’t concerned about God’s honour, but in all they did they sought to kill and get rid of the Son of God. What could be worse? They weren’t using scripture to judge themselves, just pointing the finger against the woman and Jesus. Religious people are just as guilty of sin as openly criminal people are. Paul builds such a case in Romans, ‘For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,’ (Romans 3:23). Who do we identify most with in this passage – the adulterous woman or the self-righteous Scribes and Pharisees?

If God is full of love and grace how can He show mercy to sinners and uphold His justice? Nowhere in the story does Jesus condone this woman’s sin, but He shows grace. He applies God’s law and truth to them. The Scribes and Pharisees came armed with the law to test Jesus. Jesus responds by stooping down and writing in the ground with His finger. This is the only place in the Bible where Jesus actually writes anything. What did He write? No-one knows. When He says, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her,” (John 8:7) He wasn’t saying judges need to be sinless. Rather, Jesus was applying what He taught in Matthew 7. The Scribes and Pharisees were hypocritical and were sinfully using this woman and Jesus to condemn her.

The starting place for receiving mercy is to be convicted by God’s holy law so that you are able to say, with the apostle Paul, that you are the chief of sinners. Jesus gives the law to the self-righteous but offers grace to broken sinners who repent. The law reveals your sin but the law cannot offer grace and forgiveness. We can infer by Jesus’ gracious words to the woman that He offered her grace. Are we gracious and show compassion? God’s justice is upheld. He can be both gracious to sinners and uphold justice at the same time. Jesus was a sacrifice for sin so that God’s justice could be satisfied, ‘It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus,’ (Romans 3:26). His death satisfies God’s wrath on our behalf.

The only sinless person in the temple that day who would have legitimately thrown a stone at the adulterous showed mercy. Trust in Jesus.

God’s grace then is the basis of a holy life. Jesus said to the guilty woman, “Go, and from now on sin no more,” (John 8:11). He doesn’t say, ‘Go your way, sin no more and I will not condemn you.’ There’s nothing you can do to make yourself righteous. Her pardon was the motivation to change. There’s nothing you can do to obtain justification. God grants forgiveness as a free gift, free grace becomes the motive for living in holiness. ‘What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?’ (Romans 6:1-2). God’s amazing grace is the greatest motive for living a holy life.

I was guilty. I was condemned before Him. But rather than condemning me, the Son loved me enough to die in my place and offer a full pardon. Since it cost Him so much, I want to please the One who love me and sacrificed Himself for me. There are no conditions. Just grace available to every sinner whose been caught in the act.

March 30th 2018: Good Friday: Gareth Edwards

Gareth Edwards - March 18“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46

During the Crucifixion Jesus gave seven sayings, which were not merely random words to what was happening. It was a commentary about the meaning and purpose of His death. This saying, the middle of the seven sayings, is perhaps the most revealing. It’s a cry that is awesome. It should fill our souls with a sense of dread. It is power, it is poignant – the cry of dereliction as the Lord suffers the punishment of our sin. It’s a cry that deifies all definition, a moment between God the Father and God the Son, a cry of the Son of God in His human nature as He experiences the wrath of God against our sin.

Sin and Judgement:
The cry tells us the Saviour really suffered at the hand of His fate as he bore the judgement for our sins. Three hours prior to this cry darkness covered the land from noon to 3 p.m. (Matthew 27:45). The sun is normally at its height, yet darkness engulfed Jerusalem. This was prophesied in Amos 8:9 many centuries before, ‘”And on that day,” declares the Lord God, “I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight.”’  Darkness is a symbol of judgement (Isaiah 5:30, 60:2, 2 Peter 2:17). The darkness of that day tells us that the wrath of God is being poured out on His Son for our sin. This is the only time ever that God the Father turned His back on His Son for our sins.  The torment of Jesus wasn’t just physical. What no-one else ever endured was the agony of eternal judgement griping the soul and drawing it into the deepest darkness of hellish pain.

The reality of judgement is God loved no-one more than He loved His only begotten Son. Divine love continued when the Son added to His divine nature and became man. God does not hold back on pouring His judgement on His Son. That terror engulfs all who die without faith in Christ. This judgement will be visited upon our sins one way or another. If we have not yet come to know Jesus Christ as our Saviour, then the terror expressed by Jesus is a terror we will know. Sin is a terrible offence. Such is its evil in the sight of God that our sin could not be forgiven until God the Father unleashed all the horror of hell against His Son.

Substitute of Atonement:
Jesus here is our substitute, taking our place, becoming us and taking liability for us. He suffered for us, He died in our place. He became us as He bore our sins. He does not address His Father in His usual way as He now stands in our place, fully identifying with us, as He cries, “My God.” He atones for our sins. He pays the penalty for our wrong doing. We are the perpetrators deserving of God’s judgement. Jesus steps in and bares that judgement. For those dreadful hours God saw Jesus not as His Son, but saw Him as being you and me. He poured out upon Him the punishment for us. Justice is satisfied and mercy is made available to us. He dies specifically taking my punishment in His love for me. It is an illogical love. Why should He love me so? In my sin I am a hideous, deformed creature, deserving nothing but the implementation of God’s wrath against me. Yet, Jesus loved me so and substituted Himself, takes my judgement, atones for my sin. What a price it was! What a payment was made! An infinite payment! We simply cannot begin to understand what it cost the Lord Jesus Christ to hang upon that cross. No words in all the languages can express what it meant. What a Saviour He is. He willingly took our place. That’s why it’s Good Friday.

A cry of hope and joy:
“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Although this is a cry of dereliction, it is also a cry of hope and joy. These words were written many centuries before the crucifixion, in Psalm 22, a prophetic psalm which speaks of the sufferings of the coming Messiah. It gives a detailed, graphic description of crucifixion – before crucifixion was perfected by the Romans. It is a psalm that looks forward to the events of Calvary. Jesus uses this psalm as a commentary on His own death. He is now experiencing what Psalm 22 prophesied. But Psalm 22 ends in hope and joy. It is a psalm that speaks of the Messiah not only in suffering but also in triumph. The Saviour confidently knows that He would not be abandoned forever and will triumph and know the joy of resurrection. He knew this as He said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46). He knew He would arise again. He told His disciples this three times. He knows that as He endures the suffering of agony of body and soul, it is the way to triumph, to hope, to joy.

It is a cry of dereliction but it is not a cry of defeat. Here lies hope and joy for each one of us. What hope have you got in the face of death? What joy can there possibly be when confronted with the reality of judgement, what hope is there in death? That Jesus Christ died and paid in full the price for our sin, thereby affording to each one of us forgiveness, allowing us to experience the mercy of God’s love and triumph over death. A sure and certain hope that in Jesus Christ our sins have been forgiven. God the Father, having judged Him, can no longer judge us for that sin. The joy – being reconciled with God if we come and trust in Jesus Christ. There is no other way for us to return to God, to enjoy fellowship with God. The only thing that can bring true joy is knowing God. So it is Good Friday.

“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” This saying is central to what forgiveness means. It teaches us the reality of our sin and God’s judgement, but it assures us that atonement is made. Jesus, as our substitute, takes our place, bore our guilt so hope and joy is ours. May it be our personal understanding of what it all means and may this fill us with love for Christ and joy in our salvation.

 

November 19th 2017: Ian Jones

Ian Jones-November 17John 4:43-54: Jesus heals the Nobleman’s Son

We remember those in the Bible we hear a lot about – Abraham, Sarah, Ruth, yet we may forget about those we hear least about, like Elkanah and Malon. What about the nobleman here in John’s gospel? He is only mentioned in John’s gospel.

Jesus had been in Judea and left for Galilee, ‘he left Judea and departed again for Galilee.’ (John 4:3). There was growing opposition from the Pharisees. Jesus, however, didn’t take the normal route around Samaria but went through Samaria because He needed to meet with the woman at the well (John 4). Jesus spent two days here before He left (John 4:43).

Jesus went to Cana, Galilee (John 4:46). John reminds us this was the place whChrere Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding. This marked His great Galilean ministry, which lasted over 16 months. Matthew, Mark and Luke record this but John only records the feeding of the 5,000 and the healing of the nobleman’s son.

Who is this nobleman? He was called a nobleman because he served in the king’s palace. He has a son in Capernaum who was very sick. We expect a man of his position to have sought the very best medical help. However, his son’s sickness got gradually worse. He heard that Jesus was in Galilee and went to implore Him to heal his son, ‘When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to Him and asked Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.’ (John 4:47).

Straight away we have an important lesson. Why do so few people have no need of Christ? Why do so few read the Bible? If people have no need of Christ then hearing about Him will have no effect on their lives. If the nobleman didn’t have a sick son, he would have no interest in seeing Jesus. This is the way God works in his life. Hearing Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, perhaps the nobleman had heard reports of Jesus turning water into wine, or other reports of Jesus’ healing ministry. This gave him the reason to come to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Whatever our needs are in life today, none can be compared to our greatest need to come to Christ. The Lord may work in a physical or spiritual way to bring them to Christ. It’s wonderful to see how the Lord brings us to Christ and works in people’s lives, in the lives of people who had no interest in Christ, yet come to Him. This is what we pray for as a church, for others to come as we have come. As God’s word is preached people may be reminded of their true position – sinners before God – and have a need for their sins to be forgiven, to be restored in fellowship with Christ.

What is even more amazing about this nobleman is that nothing will stop him from coming to Christ. He has a sick son at the point of death yet he went to Christ and implored Him to come to heal his son. It doesn’t matter how far away you are when a loved one is dying, you will want to be with them. The noble man had servants of his own he could have sent to Jesus whilst he stayed at home with his son in those valuable moments. Yet he left his son to go to Jesus Christ, to implore him to heal his son who was at the point of death. The distance would have been about 25 miles and would have taken 4-6 hours travelling. It was a long journey for him, he might never see his son alive again. He would do everything possible to save his son.

Are we willing to do everything possible to bring others to the Lord Jesus Christ, to bring Christ to others? It is easy to sit back and relax. Here we find an encouragement. Are we coming to God in prayer about those who are facing a lost eternity? Are we praying that Christ would restore them and give them life as He has given life to us? The noble man went on that journey to bring Christ to his son. Are we seeking to bring Christ to others?

What did this noble man think about on the journey? He may have wondered what Jesus would say to his request. However, Jesus’ response was not what he wanted to hear, ‘So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.”’ (John 4:48).  This would have been a shock to the nobleman. Jesus was not only speaking to him but also to the crowds. When a person comes to Jesus they do not always hear what they want to hear (like the rich young man who asked what he must do to inherit eternal life).

What does the nobleman do when he hears something he doesn’t want to hear? Does he go home? No, because he had a great need. He wasn’t going to give up lightly, ‘The official said to Him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”’ (John 4:49). Again Jesus’ response is not what he wants to hear, ‘Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.”’ (John 4:50). He had been asking Jesus to come and heal his son but the Lord Jesus says, ‘Go.’ This man only had faith that his son would only be made well if the Lord came to his home to heal him. He didn’t have the faith of the centurion.

The Lord does an amazing work – He gives the nobleman the faith so he trusts Christ at His word, ‘The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way.’ (John 4:50). We can make excuses not to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, as the crowd was doing. They wanted proof but the Lord Jesus wanted them to believe first in Him rather than have miracles. What is holding us back from believing in the very word of God? God asks us to simply believe in Him, believe the word of God is true. The nobleman turned and went on his way home, when he was met by one of his servants who told him his son lived. What joy! What confirmation.

God creates a need for us to come to the Lord Jesus Christ. He gives us faith to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Then, as we walk in faith He gives us confirmation of what we believe. He establishes our faith. He strengthens us in various ways.

Jesus had it that the nobleman’s servant met him. That’s what God does as we walk by faith, as we go through various trials, he establishes us. The Lord doesn’t just leave us when we come to Him. There is confirmation. Twice the nobleman believed; initially, when the Lord told him to go, and again at the end, when he and all his household believed, ‘And he himself believed, and all his household.’ (John 4:53). This is important – the nobleman went on to tell others what had happened.

This was the second sign that Jesus did when he came out of Judea and into Galilee. Both miracles are very similar, they both have people who have great need and who show persistence leading to great faith.

July 16th 2017: Ian Jones

Ian Jones-July 17Luke 7:36-50 A Sinful Woman Forgiven

Puzzling questions:

Why did the Pharisee ask Jesus to eat with him?
Normally, there is always a good reason to invite someone to dinner or others to invite us. But here, there seems no reason why Simon, the Pharisee, should invite Jesus, ‘One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table.’ (Luke 7:36). This was not like the occasion when Jesus was invited by Mary and Martha to their home, where Jesus was welcomed. It was not like the occasion when Jesus invited himself to Zaccheus’ home and was warmly welcomed by Zaccheus. In Simon’s home there was no welcome. Jesus says, ‘I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oi, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.’ (Luke 7:44-46). Jesus received none of the customary greetings of the day. So why did Simon ask Jesus to come to his house? Because he was one of those who wanted to discredit Jesus, to prove that Jesus was not a prophet, not the Son of God. Therefore he did not give the normal hospitality to Jesus.

Simon was quick to judge the woman and Jesus. There are many like Simon today; when we meet them they want to discredit Jesus. We even have an example in the apostle Paul, who persecuted Christians until he met with the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus, He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4). People want to resist Jesus, to resist the grace of God. Many have come to a meeting to cause havoc but have been struck by the word and come to Jesus. None are too far from the Kingdom of God – Christ’s message is for all, that all might receive Him gladly.

  • Why did this woman enter Simon’s home?
    It would have been easy for the woman to have stayed away, she knew she would not have been welcomed. She came because the Lord was there. The custom of the day was that anyone could come into another one’s home. We would find this difficult today! There, they would have been onlookers – not participating in the meal but standing by the walls, looking at the table and chatting with those around it. Luke tells us, ‘And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment.’ (Luke 7:37). Luke draws out attention to the woman, ‘behold, a woman of the city.’ The men would have recognised her. They classifies her as a sinner. She brought an alabaster flask of oil. It would have been a shock when she entered the house. Possibly she was a prostitute – which would have been even more shocking. She stood behind the Lord Jesus with a costly flask of fragrant oil and began to pour it over his dusty feet. His feet wouldn’t have been washed. Her tears fell onto those feet. She undid her hair, which would have been another shocking thing. She used her crowning glory to wash his hair, and kissed His feet in a loving, respectful way. Ointment was poured. All eyes were on her. Everyone was silent. Watching.

Why did she come to Simon’s house? She wanted to show her love and devotion to the Lord Jesus. The Lord Jesus had obviously changed her life. She was no longer a practising sinner as she had been before. Jesus changed that when He came into her life. Has He has changed our lives? Do we have the same love as she had? Have we come today in that same manner, wanting to express our love?

  • Why did Jesus come into this house, knowing what Simon was like?

Simon was not a seeker, like Mary, Martha and Zaccheus. Why did Jesus go into his home when His time on earth was short? He would have known all about Simon, ‘Now when the Pharisee who had invited him say this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”’ (Luke 7:39). Jesus answered him. He knew what Simon was thinking as well as his guests. So why did Jesus come? It was for a very important reason – to teach an important truth. He distinguishes a contrast between Simon and the woman.

Jesus has a parable, a very simple parable: a creditor had two debtors. One owned a lot, one very little. Both couldn’t pay. The creditor freely forgave both. Then Jesus asked a question of His own – which debtor would love the creditor the most? There is any easy answer, but Simon struggled, saying, ‘The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.’ (Luke 7: 43). We see, as Simon answers, ‘I suppose,’ that he didn’t want to give an answer. Jesus tells him that he has judged rightly (before he had wrongly judges the woman). Then Jesus turns to the woman and says to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.’ (Luke 7:44-46). He wanted Simon to focus on the woman. He directed his attention to her. The important truth was, ‘Her sins, which are many, are forgiven – for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.’ (Luke 7:47). The reason Jesus came to that house was to declare to Simon and us, the more we recognise our sin, the more we realise we are indebted to our God, the more we love Him. The more we see why Jesus went to the cross and bore our sins, the more we will love Him.

  • Why should we want to come into that house?

If we could go back in time, why would we want to go there? ‘And He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”’ (Luke 7:48). Those who sat at the table asked, ‘Who is this, who even forgives sins?’ Do you and I need to do something amazing to have our sins forgiven? The Lord Jesus gives us the answer, ‘And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’ (Luke 7:50). We won’t be saved by our good works or our family connections, but by faith. Salvation is by faith. How do we come by faith? By the word of God. Turn from sin, express your thanks to God. Jesus told the woman, ‘Go in peace.’

Luke 7-50.jpg

No matter how many times we hear the gospel message, we need to be reminded of the truth, that by faith we are saved. When we leave this world and face death, we know we have been saved by faith if we have repented. Faith saved the woman, she can now go in peace. Might we have the peace of God as we know the Lord Jesus.

April 23rd 2017: Gerald Tait

John 20

For the avoidance of doubt

Gerald Tait April 17Sadly, Thomas has been called ‘Doubting Thomas.’ He had seen Jesus die and knew He’d been buried but he didn’t know the whole story, ‘So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hands into His side, I will never believe.’ (John 20:25). Jesus had already said when He appeared the first time to the other disciples, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’ (Luke 24:38-39). They had told Thomas but he didn’t believe them, so now Jesus tells Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.’ (John 20:27). Thomas only needed the merest glance to see and believe.

There are measures of grace, it can be counted like a seed. We can have a small amount of faith and struggle or be at the other end of the spectrum and be confident. John went in to the tomb and saw Jesus had risen. Peter went in and believed, but Mary needed to hear the voice of Jesus as well. We have grains of faith.

Right through the New Testament the Apostle Paul uses the phrase ‘being in Christ.’ We are in Christ. It’s a precious, sacred truth. For the avoidance of doubt we have the certainty of forgiveness. On our Christian journey we may have doubts when things aren’t working out. In Romans 5 and 6 Paul has been in turmoil but finds the answer. We’re forgiven. Yet Satan, the accuser of the brethren, drags us down. Jesus paid our penalty, justice was served by the righteous judge. When the accuser Satan comes along, we need to say, ‘Justice has been served. I’m forgiven!’ The righteous judge has pronounced the ultimate verdict – not guilty.

The Christian faith is the only faith where the verdict comes before the performance. In the Muslim faith, the verdict comes after the performance. Jesus starts us off with the verdict first – not guilt as a believer, now perform. Following the struggle Paul has had, being dragged into court again and again, he says, ‘There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.’ (Romans 8:1). It is God who gives the verdict, ‘Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.’ (Romans 8:37). Nothing can get in the way, no-one can drag you back into court. Don’t worry about the future. Nothing in all creation can separated you from the love of God. ‘For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (Romans 8:38-39). Because Jesus paid the penalty for us, there is nothing that can shake us. For the avoidance of doubt, read Romans 8 and Paul’s struggle. God is not condemning us, we are not guilty. What we have done for God will stand the test. For the avoidance of doubt, speak to God every day.

August 21st 2016: Matthew Maxwell-Carr (Morning)

 ‘I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake;
and I will not remember your sins.’
Isaiah 43:25

We were blessed to sit under the ministry of Matthew Maxwell-Carr from Hill Park Church, who preached on the theme of forgiveness.

God offers forgiveness to the world through Jesus Christ. It is the message of salvation, the message of the righteousness of God.

  • Who forgives sins?
  • What is the forgiveness of sin?
  • Why does God forgive sin?

Evidently sin can be forgiven. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how much sin we’ve accumulated or what the world thinks of us, there is forgiveness, there is hope.

The judgement of God is upon us, sin needs to be forgiven. God promises He will never remember our sins. This is the message of the gospel, of forgiveness.

Who forgives sin?

The Lord God, ‘I, even I’. Have you put your trust in other ways? Some people can’t forgive themselves – they may go to a psychiatrist or psychologist who says, ‘Don’t feel guilty!’ But they have no power or authority to forgive sin. People march themselves down to the River Ganges to cleanse themselves, but that doesn’t work. A guilty conscience will hunt you down but thanks be to God, He can forgive you, heal you.

The only one with authority to forgive sin is God. ‘I am the first, I am the last; and beside me there is no God.’  (Isaiah 44:6) He alone has the power. This is why, when Jesus came into this world, they called Him a blasphemer. Even the whole Old Testament sacrificial system didn’t do away with sin. The author of Hebrews tells us those animal sacrifices had to be repeated again and again, year in, year out. Sin was never dealt with properly. Then Christ came. Once. For all. He has offered the final sacrifice. This alone can deal with sin, deal with a guilty conscience.

Some people just come before God and forget the cross. They forget God is a righteous judge; sin has to be dealt with and paid for otherwise God would be unjust. The only way is the way of the cross, He is the propitiation of our sins. Jesus is the propitiation; upon the cross God poured out His wrath on His only begotten Son, sin has been paid for. Justice has been paid for. So now, when you come to God through the cross, there is forgiveness. Apart from this, apart from the cross, there is no forgiveness. This is why the Apostle Paul can say, ‘Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.’ (Romans 8:33)

Heaven holds nothing against you, you have every right as a forgiven person to go in peace. He will watch over you and protect you. You are forgiven by the only one who has the authority to do the impossible thing, by way of the cross.

What is the forgiveness of sin?

According to God, forgiveness is a blotting out, a wiping away.

‘As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us.’ Psalm 103:12

‘Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not His anger forever, because He delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, He will have compassions upon us; He will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.’ Micah 7:18-19
‘And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth, unto Him that loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God His Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.’ Revelation 1:5-6

Christ blots out our iniquities and washes them away. People must realise they’ve broken God’s law and hang over the gates of Hell. Every moment of our life has never been anything but sin. When have you ever loved your neighbour as yourself? Every single one of us has dishonoured God’s authority. The shed blood of Christ completely blots out all your sin. ‘I will not remember your sins.’ He extinguishes your sins from His memory.

What happens when your conscience is cleared? The guilt is gone and taken away forever. If God has wiped away your sins, no matter how bad they were, then you ought to forget them too. You ought to believe the Word of God. The biggest sin is the sin of unbelief, it remains in our hearts and minds. You must not allow the Devil to set you on a guilt trip. Refuse to condemn yourselves. 

‘There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.’ Romans 8:1

God holds nothing against you, so you have no right to condemn yourself. You are not the judge! Strive, by the spirit of God, to forget our past and move on. Get on with life and live for God’s glory. He has called us to peace and we ought to live in peace. The Lord completely justifies and vindicates you. You have received the righteousness of God by faith. You are absolutely blameless in the sight of God, that’s the forgiveness of sin.

Why does God forgive sin?

He doesn’t do it primarily for our sake. That will help unburden your soul!  ‘I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake;
and I will not remember your sins.’ He does it for His own sake, for His glory, the revealing of His kindness. Our forgiveness is a means to an end. We are forgiven to glorify God and reveal how tremendous He is. A forgiven sinner knows how wonderful God is. Because God forgives primarily for His sake, in as much as you live in the light of His forgiveness, that is how much you glorify Him. We’re a washed people, you’ve been set apart as Holy. Don’t hold things against others, or yourself, this dishonours God. When you condemn yourself or others you make it all about you. It’s not about you, it’s all about Him. He forgives you, be at peace. Instead of spending your life in bitterness and worry, spend it in praise and glory to His name.