I am: Forgiven (part 2)
I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide. I said, I will confess my transgressions to the Lord [continually unfolding the past till all is told]–then You [instantly] forgave me the guilt and iniquity of my sin. – Psalm 32:5 (Amplified Bible)
Even though I was practically raised in church, I don’t think I actually understood what was accomplished for me on the cross until I was well into my 30’s. After the orange-throwing incident, I did (eventually) begin to understand that it wasn’t enough to simply ‘believe’ Jesus forgave me. At least not the way that I defined ‘belief’. Like I believe that I am still at least a good 15 pounds overweight … but my belief didn’t stop me from sampling every single one of the 5 desserts served at our Friday night potluck Small Group. No, it’s not enough to claim you believe something. If you truly believe, it will result in some sort of outward expression of that belief! Put another way, you’ve got to put your money where your mouth is! You believe it, and then act on that belief, by having a serving of fruit salad instead of key lime pie for example.
Maybe it helps to think about it like this. Lets say I am being held a prisoner, and having discovered my captivity, Jesus not only paid in full the ransom money but also personally unlocked and opened wide the prison bars that had previously held me captive. My freedom has been secured! Yipee! But what if I refused to leave the cell in spite of all his urgings to the contrary. What if I stayed in that cell praying even more earnestly for deliverance and rescue than I did before Jesus showed up on the scene. Am I free? Of course not! In order to be actually be free, I’ve got to accept the (completely undeserved) gift of liberation and get up on out of that stinking prison cell! How foolish it is to stay captive to something or someone when the price for your freedom has been paid, but that’s what many of us do.
Now if we were the ones who masterminded the escape, regardless by what means, that would be a whole ‘nuther story. Not only would we be out at the first possible moment, but we’d be dislocating shoulder blades patting ourselves on the back all the way down to the local news station to share with the world our brilliance at overcoming the odds. Got news for you folks. When it comes to sin, you ain’t that brilliant and either am I! So unless we humble ourselves and accept the only way out possible, which is through the shed blood of Christ Jesus, our only other recourse is to sit in the cell and rot.
So going back to the orange-throwing incident, I was forgiven long ago – according to Psalm 32:5, immediately after I confessed and asked for forgiveness. But I refused to ‘leave my cell’ for years!
I don’t know where you are in your journey of faith, but I am so grateful that I have finally come to understand (at least in part) the liberty that is mine if I will only accept it! Better still, Christ doesn’t just leave us in a ‘forgiven state’ … He cleans us up! He strips off our filthy prison-stained rags, washes us up, and then puts His righteous robes on us! What an incredible exchange!!! My sin for His holiness. My captivity for His liberty. My death sentence for His promise of life eternal! We’re told in 1 John 1:9 that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”. Actually, the Amplified Bible states it even clearer!
If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action]. – 1 John 1:9 (Amplified Bible)
I heard an excellent teaching recently (because I have it on CD and listen to it regularly) on the Greek lexicon ὁμολογέω or Homologeo. In most of our English Bibles, it is frequently translated as: confess, profess, declare, acknowledge, admit. By definition, it means “to say the same thing as“. And so, my friend, when we are instructed to confess our sins (as in 1 John 1:9) our part of the forgiveness equation is simply “to say the same thing” about our behavior (sin) that God says about it. In the following situations, here are a few examples of how you might Homologeo your sin.
Example 1: Got into a verbal confrontation in the parking lot at the grocery store
Lord, I was wrong to have cussed out that woman who stole my parking spot this morning. My behavior was unloving and most definitely did not reflect your heart or character. Forgive me. Thank you that you are living inside me and are changing me from the inside out so that I can be a reflection of you on earth to others around me. Help me to think and act more like you. Amen.
Example 2: Your wife threw you out, your girlfriend dumped you, and even your dog hates you
Lord, my life is a train wreck! My wife left me because I didn’t treat her with the respect she deserved when I had her. She just couldn’t take it anymore, especially when she found out about my cheating. I deserved it, I know it now! I have really screw up Lord. I got so drunk Friday night that I kicked the dog, and now even he’s run off and left me ! I’m all alone with myself, and I hate the man I see in the mirror. My selfish behavior has cost me every relationship I ever cared about. Forgive me Lord. Thank you that my sin has been nailed to the cross and is now part of my past. Change me and ….
OK, so maybe you might word things a little differently (or maybe not :)), but you get the point. It’s not about beating yourself up to impress God so that he will then forgive you. Nor is your forgiveness something cheap and easily replaceable so that you can live a sloppy life and just “get forgiven again ” like it was like getting a candy bars from a vending machine. No, we must remember that our forgiveness (our freedom from living in bondage to our sinful nature) was bought with a person … the precious life and shed blood of Jesus Christ. That’s why when our repentance is sincere, it will result in a “turn around” in our attitude and behavior.
It ain’t cheap, my friend! But it is free! What you and I are powerless to do for ourselves … live a perfect and sinless life so that we could be in continued relationship with a Holy God … Christ did for us! We just need to receive it and then walk it out!
Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in, and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
For with the heart a person believes (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Christ) and so is justified (declared righteous, acceptable to God), and with the mouth he confesses (declares openly and speaks out freely his faith) and confirms [his] salvation. – Romans 10:9-10 (Amplified Bible)
Are there areas of your life in which you are still imprisoned, still sitting in a jail cell? I admit that sometimes I still wrestle with accepting God’s forgiveness. Some sins just seem too big to be forgiven without paying penance. But that is “religious” thinking and completely un-Biblical. You and I can not add one single stinking thing to the precious shed blood of Christ! He paid it all! And I dis-honor his gift to me when I try to add my own contribution to it. No, the quicker I come to terms with the fact that I don’t deserve it, but can receive and take possession of it regardless, the sooner the process of transformation can begin!
I pray that this is meaningful and life-giving to you. I pray that if you haven’t already done so, that you come to the end of yourself and quit trying to save yourself on your own terms. I pray you get right with God and invite Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of your life. And I pray you get your forgiven-self up on out of that stinking prison cell and start living a victorious life that honors the One who purchased it for you!