Pastor Michael Bowman
“Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out…” (Acts 3:19)
If you’ve kept up with these posts on forgiveness wait to go, keep it up. Hopefully they have been beneficial for you. Up to this point, all we’ve really looked at is forgiveness from God’s perspective. That is to say we’ve looked at forgiveness as part of God’s character and his work through Christ. From here we will be moving forward to what forgiveness looks like in the life of a believer, but first, an important question: What now? What are you supposed to do with the forgiving character of God?
The first answer comes to you if you are new to the idea of God’s forgiveness. If this is what God is like, if he is full of love, compassion and forgiveness, how should you respond to him? Repent and believe. It’s really simple and yet as hard as anything can be. Christ has come, the time of ignorance has past, and now everyone everywhere is called to repent of their sins and bend the knee to Jesus as Lord. That includes you. If you repent, the text above makes clear that your sins, “will be blotted out.” To repent means to turn away from, have a change of mind. You turn away from a life of sin as God’s word defines it and seek new life in Christ.
This has to be paired with true belief or trust in who Christ is and what he has done. “To him (Jesus) all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” The only way to be forgiven of your sins, to find peace of conscience, to be free of your guilt and shame, is through true faith in Jesus. There is no other name by which you can be saved. You can try, but you won’t find any other method able to ultimately fulfill a promise of salvation.
What about if you have done that? What if you are a believer? Sometimes we tell others about the radical forgiveness of God in Christ, but once we are standing upon that forgiveness we seem to forget. All of a sudden we are fearful when we fall into sin. But God is just as forgiving today as he was when you first came to know Christ. “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 Jn. 2:1). You will often sin and see that you are not righteous in yourself but your righteousness is Christ’s righteousness. He continues to intercede for you and stand as your advocate. You need not fear if you are truly in Christ. Your sin has been dealt with. That isn’t a false promise used by the church to get you in. It’s actually true.
The Lord Jesus showed his forgiving heart when on the cross. “And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Lk. 23:33-34). It’s amazing that in the greatest moment of agony, when the worst of sins ever committed was taking place against him, still Christ calls for forgiveness. If he is such a Lord, what would keep you from turning from your sin and following him? Christian, no matter what sin you have fallen into, nothing should keep you from returning to your Lord once again for forgiveness.