Author: Ron Graham
What Forgiveness Takes Away
—And what it doesn't
An old beatitude says, "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity and in whose spirit there is no deceit!" (Psalms 32:1). In this lesson we think about the blessing of forgiveness. Especially, we think about what burdens forgiveness takes away.
1 Forgiveness takes away all sin absolutely
Here is how the Bible describes the blessing of forgiveness of sins...
"Sins remembered no more" (Jeremiah 31:34).
"No condemnation" (Romans 8:1)
"Sins blotted out" (Acts 3:18-19)
"Blood cleanses us from all sin" (1John 1:7)
2 Forgiveness takes away fear and guilt
Here is what the Bible says we are released from when our sins are forgiven...
Perishing: "...should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16)
Wrath of God: "We shall be saved from wrath through him" (Romans 5:9)
Guilty conscience: "...answer of a clear conscience" (1Peter 3:21)
3 What forgiveness does not take away
I do not say this to diminish the blessing of forgiveness, but there are some things forgiveness does not remove...
- The seriousness of sin remains. Do you imagine that God thinks lightly of sin because he always forgives it? If anyone did think that, they would misunderstand God's mercy, grace, and love. After all, Jesus had to die to make forgiveness possible. That shows how serious sin is.
- The harm of sin remains. Eternal punishment is removed, but the ashes of sin, the disease and damage and destruction it has done remain.
- The habits of sin remain. "Sin so easily entangles us" (Hebrews 12:1) because it weakens us and ingrains bad habits into us and it takes time and commitment to get rid of them. That's why we are exhorted, "Don't give devil an opportunity" (Ephesians 4:27).
- Temptation to sin remains. Forgiveness blots out sins, but not temptations. So we still need God's help and must stay close to God who "makes a way to escape" (1Corinthians 10:12-13) and this we need. We also need —and God patiently gives— "space to repent" (Revelation 2:20-21, 2Peter 3:9)