What is TOTAL Forgiveness?
God’s forgiveness is total. Because God knows everything, it has to be total. He can’t partially forgive. He totally forgives. Think about what that means. That means that God knows the worst thing you’ve ever done or ever will do. And he’s decided, in Christ, to forgive you of that already.
You and I might be surprised at our sins sometimes. God is never surprised. Never surprised. God never says, “OMG! That one shocked me.” He never says that because he’s never surprised. He knows in advance every wrong thing, every bad thing I’m going to do, and he’s chosen to totally forgive me.
In Christ, when God forgives, he doesn’t partially forgive; he totally forgives. Your sins are totally wiped out.
When God forgives he erases it. He wipes it out. He destroys it. He totally forgives us.
But we get confused about this. Sometimes we feel that, when we’ve done something wrong and we feel guilt about it, that somehow God’s trying to get back at us. Have you ever had that? Where every little wrong thing that starts to happen in your life you think, “It’s because of that sin.”
We get into this thing where we think God is punishing us for our sin. That is not what God is like. God lovingly disciplines his children. He leads us the right way, but he does not punish us for our sin. How do I know that? Because he told us.
Romans 8:1 (NIV) “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
The Bible says there is no condemnation when you are in Christ Jesus. God doesn’t carry grudges. He doesn’t judgmentally carry a grudge in our lives. He says instead, “I will not hold it against you.” God doesn’t rehearse your sins over and over in his mind. God releases it. He forgives it. That’s what a loving God he is.
Some of you, this last week, you said something, you did something, you thought something you never thought you’d do or think. And you’re wondering, “Can God forgive me?” Yes, he can. You start by realizing how forgiven you are. Based on that forgiveness you find the freedom to live a new kind of life.
How do I know I’m totally forgiven? Two reasons.
1. I’m totally forgiven because it’s in God’s nature to forgive.
He is a forgiving God. It is in his nature to forgive.
Isaiah 43:25 (God) “I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again”
It’s just in God’s nature. It’s who he is. He is a forgiver. Notice this verse is in the Old Testament. There’s this idea that the God of the Old Testament is unforgiving. Then he changed character in the New Testament. He’s always been a forgiving God. Do a study sometime about how many times he forgives. How many times he says he will forgive in the Old Testament. He’s always been a forgiving God.
There’s this idea some people have that Jesus is forgiving, but God the Father is judgmental. Like somehow Jesus has the Father’s arm behind his back saying, “Come on Dad, forgive them, forgive them.” And he says, “OK Son, I’ll forgive them.” That’s not the picture at all. Father, Son and Holy Spirit – they’re all forgiving. It’s his nature to forgive. He wants to forgive you. That’s who God is. So in Christ we’re forgiven.
2. I’m totally forgiven is because Jesus paid for my sins.
Jesus paid for my sins. It keeps going back to what Jesus did on the cross.
Ephesians 1:7, “He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.”
We’re forgiven not based on our performance or what we’ve done. We’re forgiven based on the great grace of God. This is our true identity. How should we act once we know our true identity? The very thing God does with us, he expects us to do with everybody else. God says he accepts us totally. We are to totally accept everybody else. He says, “Just as you’ve been accepted in Christ you should accept others in Christ.”
That doesn’t mean approve of everything they do. Acceptance and approval are not the same. We need to understand that. God accepts us totally. That does not mean he approves of everything we do. A lot of stuff we do is flat out wrong and sin. God does not approve of everything we do. He accepts us, but he does not approve of everything we do. So we must accept everybody. That doesn’t mean we approve of everything they do but we must accept them.