This blog uses Bible references. If you don’t have a Bible, you can find the Bible text online.
The need for forgiveness
Sin is any act or thought that is against the will of God. (It’s defined as ‘transgression of the law’, 1 John 3:4). We are all sinners. The process of sin is described in James 1:14-15: "Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." We are tempted to do something that is against the will of God; we give in to the temptation and do it, that is sin.
This process of temptation leading to sin is seen time and again in the Bible, for example Eve (Genesis 3:1-6) and David (2 Samuel 11:2-4).
God’s sentence for sin is death (Ezekiel 18:4). Because we are sinners, we need forgiveness.
Forgiveness and God
God is merciful and longsuffering – he doesn’t want to condemn, he wants to forgive (e.g. Exodus 33:5-7. Psalm 78:38-39).
The process of forgiveness is described for us. The following two psalms were written by David after his sin in 2 Samuel 11.
- Psalm 32 – God forgives and covers sin (verses 1-2); unforgiven sin causes misery (verses 3-4); forgiveness is not automatic but requires the sinner to acknowledge and confess it (verses 5-6).
- Psalm 51 – David wanted to be forgiven (verses 1-2); he acknowledged his sin and was forgiven (verses 3-4); his sin was not a one-off act, but was inherent (verses 5-6); he repented (verses 10-11); his forgiveness resulted in a desire to spread the news of God’s love (verses 13-17).
What we have seen so far – we all sin, but if we acknowledge our sins and turn away from them (this is what the Bible means by ‘repentance’), God will forgive us.
We not only sin, we are inherently sinful – we live under the sentence of death. But God doesn’t want it to be like this …
Forgiveness and Jesus
God gave his son Jesus so that we can escape our death sentence (John 3:16).
Jesus was a human just like us, and tempted just like us (Hebrews 4:15). See for example his temptations in the wilderness at the beginning of his ministry, and Gethsemane at the end. He was tempted, but he never gave in to sin. His lust never ‘conceived’ (see James 1:15).
"The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). Because Jesus never sinned, "the grave could not hold him" (Acts 2:24), so God raised him from the dead.
Romans chapter 6 describes how we sinners can share in his victory over sin and death, if we give ourselves to him (it’s all about baptism – which is another subject).
God wants to forgive our sins, but he will not forgive us if we do not forgive each other (Matthew 6:12-15, Mark 11:25-26).
God is infinitely longsuffering and forgiving towards us, and so must we be towards each other (Matthew 18:21-35).
Jesus gave us the supreme example of forgiveness – Luke 23:34.