Attribute n. - a quality or feature regarded as a characteristic or inherent part of someone or something.
Psalms 130:4 But there is forgiveness with thee, that
thou mayest be feared.
One of the most wonderful things about the God of the Bible, the one true God, is that He offers us forgiveness. I think this is something that we often fail to appreciate at its full value. Jesus did make it clear that some people understand the value more than others, but it appears to me that this is because some people understand the reality of their own sinfulness more than others.
Luke 7:47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.
Why is a God who forgives so important and one to be feared? I have written before somewhat on this subject. Please read this past post for the importance of having A God Who Forgives.
The basic idea in fearing a God who forgives is that we are people who need forgiveness, and most or all of the gods of other religions and the humanized “God” of many “christian” groups do not offer the kind of forgiveness that the Bible says God Almighty offers us. Why would we want to fear a god who can’t forgives us our sins – ALL our sins? We don’t need to fear God as some ogre who will wreck havoc upon us based on His own whimsical ideals without justice and holiness. We fear Him in awe and holiness because He is holy and just, and yet He desires to forgive us if we’ll come to Him in humility and repentance through Jesus Christ.
Acts 13:38 Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:
Ephesians 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
1 John 2:12 I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake.
Acts 26:18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
Romans 4:3-8 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.
You see, forgiveness is not something we can earn by works, otherwise it is no longer grace and God owes it to us. Forgiveness comes through the righteousness that is imputed (To charge; to attribute; to set to the account of… Source) to us through faith in Jesus Christ.
It is a tremendous blessing to have our sins forgiven by the the Lord – to know that our sins are forgiven! We’ve already discussed that God is eternal and that any offence against Him is an eternal offence. This is one reason that we need the eternal forgiveness that only He can give us. God has always been a God who forgives (many O.T. references) but He made the final atonement possible through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 10:10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
I read something recently where a couple had talked to a lady who appeared to believe that Jesus was a great comforter, but she didn’t see any need in Him as a Savior. She was not interested in having her sins forgiven because she seemed to like them just fine. She just wanted comfort for the trials of life. What good is a comforter to sinners without forgiveness of sin? We can’t be comforted while we remain unforgiven because sin and guilt and shame are all tied up together and none of those will allow us to experience true comfort without true forgiveness.
1 John 1:8-9 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
There is great comfort in knowing that we are forgiven by God and cleansed from all our unrighteousness.
One interesting thing a brother pointed out once in a sermon we heard was that God knows not only our past sins, but all the sins we are going to commit. We need to trust Him to forgive us from all of our sins. Some might stumble over this and think that because God knows and will forgive our future sins that gives us license to sin. It does not. We do not sin that grace may abound (Rom. 6:1-2), nor do we sin because we know God will forgive us later. When we fear Him because He can forgive sins, we will desire not to sin against Him further.
Some people seem to almost think that when we’re born again all of our past sins are forgiven and taken care of, but somehow we’re responsible for all the future ones. In other words, once we’re saved we’re responsible to keep ourselves saved by not sinning any more, or perhaps doing some kind of penance for sins we commit. This is impossible. If Christ died for our sins, either He died for them all, or we never needed a Savior in the first place and could have saved ourselves. If we can take care of some of our sins, we could have taken care of all of them. No, we can’t take care of any of them. All of our sins were future when He died so how can we mark a time at which point we are now responsible. He promised to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. For us today every bit of that was future when He said that. Long before we were even born He knew every sin we would commit before we were saved AND after we were saved, and He is faithful and just to forgive us because He promised He would be.
Some years ago Josh Harris published a story he wrote about going into a room where there was a huge filing system with a card for every sin he had ever committed. He opened these and was shamed and horrified to find all these things recorded is such detail. As he looked, he was astonished as he began to notice that Jesus Christ’s name was being substituted for his name on all of the cards. In other words, Jesus was taking responsibility for what he, Josh Harris, had done. This is a poor, emaciated view of what God has really done for us in the way of forgiveness. Jesus doesn’t sign His name to our account, He wiped out the account! There is no record in His sight!
We’re told in 2 Corinthians 5:21, For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. He became our sin, He didn’t just write His name to the charge. He paid the price in full and closed the account and destroyed the record, so to speak! He made us the righteousness of God! That completely blots out any accusation of sin because God is completely righteous. But, of course, we can only have this righteousness in Him!
Colossians 2:13-14 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
He blotted out the ordinances that we had broken – the just accusations of all the ways that we had broken the laws of God. He nailed them to His cross and He does not remember them.
Hebrews 8:12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
Did you ever stop to think about how limiting our human memories are - not in the sense that we forget, but in the sense that we remember? Oh, that’s a whole other story, isn’t it? God can offer us His God-like forgiveness because He can make Himself forget. He can choose not to remember. That is a forgiveness beyond our human comprehension, and I think that is one reason why we tend to not believe the enormity of it. If we can remember our sins, surely God must. But, He chooses not to!
I remember how conscience-stricken I was when a heard a brother talk about how it is a sin to repeatedly confess a sin over and over to God (a specific sin that we committed at a specific time). His thought was that the Lord has said He does not remember it, so we are reminding Him by bringing it up over and over again. This man saw that as sin in reminding God of something that He said He had forgiven and forgotten. I really struggled with this and it was at that point that I often prayed when confessing sin to the Lord that He would help me to believe that I’m forgiven.
Psalms 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
As it has been pointed out many times, the east and the west never meet. If you go east, you will continue going east indefinitely. And so also with going west. This is the distance between us and our transgressions.
If you still have struggles and doubts about being forgiven, you may be encouraged by reading this article I wrote over at The Home Maker’s Corner: Forgiven.
God is not forgiving “all by Himself” as He is “good all by Himself”. Forgiveness, by the very definition of what it is, requires another party – the offender. A God who is holy, just, pure, and undefiled but has provided a way to forgive those who have sinned against Him – ah, that is an awe-inspiring God, that is a God to be feared and worshipped with reverence. Every one of us can stand and say, “Guilty as charged” to our own sins before God, but through faith in Jesus Christ and the astounding work He accomplished by dying on the cross for us, we can also say, “Forgiven”. This is too big for me to explain. I cannot get my little brain around it. I have to take it by faith.
However, this forgiveness of God’s does press us for further action.
Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
The God-like forgiveness that we have received through Jesus Christ should inspire us to show that same forgiveness to our fellow believers.
As we go through this month, let’s try to keep in mind
1. the greatness of the forgiveness that an Almighty God can offer us,
2. our great need for forgiveness, and
3. how we can extend that forgiveness to others – either as fellow believers, or by pointing unbelievers to the source of true forgiveness.
Psalms 103:2-3 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities…