Grace Family Bible Church
Paul Preaches Forgiveness
By: Scott Morton
Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:  Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:  In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
The Apostle Paul brings up the issue of forgiveness in this passage. This is something many people struggle to identify for themselves. The reason for this is what most of Christianity has done to this topic. They have taught things which do not apply to the members of the Body of Christ. While there are verses which say what they want to have said, they are applying things to us which apply specifically to Israel under the law.
As a starting point, let's look at what the definition of forgiveness is (definition from Webster's 1828 Dictionary):
FORGIV'ENESS, n. forgiv'ness.
1. The act of forgiving; the pardon of an offender, by which he is considered and treated as not guilty. The forgiveness of enemies is a Christian duty.
2. The pardon or remission of an offense or crime; as the forgiveness of sin or of injuries.
3. Disposition to pardon; willingness to forgive.
And mild forgiveness intercede to stop the coming blow.
4. Remission of a debt, fine or penalty.
We see that there is a pardon of an offense (sin) which takes place as part of the issue of forgiveness. Originally, man was made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-28), which means sin was not part of who we were. The Bible defines those that have sin:
1 John 3:8
He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
Those that are identified in the issue of sin are seen as being part of the devil. They cannot have a relationship with God because of the issue of sin. At creation, there was one simple command man was supposed to follow:
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:  But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Adam was given the simple instruction of not eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This is the only command which is given to him. There is also a clear consequence for what would happen if he failed to follow this. It doesn't take long for the Bible to record what happens:
Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?  And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:  But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.  And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:  For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.  And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.  And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
The fall of man is recorded here. The failure to follow the command is recorded, as there is a failure to understand and follow the Word of God which is recorded in chapter 2. This is how Satan has an impact on individuals, as he uses subtlety to pull people away from the clear statements of the Bible.
The Word of God lays out the consequences for their actions:
And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:  And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.  Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.  And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;  Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;  In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
This passage shows there is a clear change which happens. This is why it is recorded that their children were born after the image of Adam, instead of being in the image of God (Genesis 5:1-3). There is a clear change which happens to them as a result of partaking of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. There are things which are done to all individuals involved in this, which is the judgment which came upon them as a result of their actions.
For man, this is the entrance of the sin nature, which is why individuals are born after the image of Adam. There are things which are said to be of this world, meaning they are contrary to God:
1 John 2:15-16
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
These things of the world were present back in the garden. When we look back at Genesis 3, we see the woman saw the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil was good for food (lust of the flesh), pleasant to the eyes (lust of the eyes), and desired to make one wise (pride of life). They went against all three areas when they transgressed what God had commanded them to do. This is why there is a sin nature present and why Paul can talk about sin reigned from Adam to Moses (Romans 5:12-14).
As we look at the issue of a sin nature, we see there are things which are even in the Apostle Paul which he knows is contrary to God:
For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.  If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.  Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.  For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.  Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
This is a discussion some people think happened inside of Paul prior to his salvation. If this was the case, he would have clearly identified this. He is writing to the saints in Rome telling them this is something going on with him today. There are struggles going on inside of him where he is still doing some things which are contrary to God. He knows there is a forgiveness which he needs (This will be covered in depth in our next article).
James writes about how there are things which are tempting to individuals in order for them to go contrary to what God would have them to do:
Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:  But 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.
These things show what happens to all individuals. Mankind is tempted by the things of the world to go contrary to what the Word of God says. This is something which happens in every dispensation and started back in Genesis with Adam. This is why the issue of forgiveness is a major issue, as sin needs to be taken care of.
An objection that many people have is that there are individuals who are good. They will talk about how these people do so much good that it would outweigh the bad things which have been done by them. This does line up with what the Bible says about this issue. There are examples of many individuals identifying the fact they need forgiveness and salvation.
1 Timothy 1:15-16
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.  Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.
The Apostle Paul identifies himself as the chief of sinners. This means he is the foremost sinner. He is stating how he needed the issue of sin to be taken care of in his life. Paul was not going to be able to do things in order to earn salvation for himself or to wipe out the debt caused by sin. He needed to receive forgiveness.
The pattern which is identified here is not Paul's salvation. If that was the case, we would have to be waiting to see the Lord Jesus Christ appear to us from heaven's glory. Paul gives us the pattern through the doctrine which was given to him. This starts with the gospel message given to him in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 and continues through the rest of the doctrine laid out in Romans through Philemon.
There are other individuals who are held up by people to say they had a level of righteousness and did not need this forgiveness. The Bible does not say this at all. We will look at a couple of examples used by individuals to try to make this claim:
And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,  And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Mary is held up by many because of the favor of God she was shown. Some would falsely teach she was without sin for her entire life. If this was the case, she would not need a Savior. Her own words show this thought process is not correct. She is identifying God as he Savior, which is showing the condition she was in. Mary was just like everyone else and needed to have forgiveness given to her.
Some would use David as another example. There are a lot of good things which David did. It is also said he was a man after God's heart. However, David also says this about himself:
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.  Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.  For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.  Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.  Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
David is someone the Bible points to as being a good person. God refers to him as someone who was after His heart. However, we see David here asking for forgiveness. He committed sin, which can be seen during the interactions with Bathsheba and Uriah. David went against the things of God and could not be identified in a manner to say he was without sin.
The Bible makes it very clear there are no righteous individuals on their own:
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
These three passages show how this is the condition of all men in the sight of God, without something being done to take care of the issue of sin. The righteousness of men is seen as filthy rags in the eyes of God. There is an end result for individuals who do not have forgiveness:
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
Everyone who is identified in this manner is going to have the lake of fire as their eternal destination. God makes it very clear that this would be everyone who has not received forgiveness, as everyone could be identified as a liar. There is nobody who would be able to escape this problem.
Under Israel's program, they had a system to attempt to take care of this issue. God had separated Israel from all of the other nations (Genesis 12:1-3) and attempted to show them how they needed to rely on Him (Exodus 14:11-14). The problem Israel had was they never seems to be able to understand and accept this message:
So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water.  And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah.  And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?  And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,  And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.  And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters.
This was unfortunately true of Israel each step of the way. They were told they had to things and they opposed God each step of the way. Israel did not demonstrate the faith which had been given to them as part of their program. As they continue on, they are given a covenant which they were supposed to follow (Exodus 19:1-8). By their own words they said they were going to do everything which was going to be given to them. This was not the case. As Moses was receiving the things of this covenant, they were already breaking it (Exodus 32). This leads to this discussion between God and Moses:
And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold.  Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.  And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.
They are discussing the punishment for this sin. It is clear they had done wrong and God is going to judge those who have sin on their account. The definition of sin which is being used here comes from 1 John 3:4. Sin is defined as the transgression of the law. If they broke the law, they were going to have sin on their account.
It did not matter if they broke the law ignorantly. They were to have been studying the things of the Word of God and were to know everything in the law. It also didn't matter if they broke only a small part of the law, as God considered every part of the law to be of equal value. They were to have known, understood, and followed all 613 parts of the law perfectly.
For those who think they could do this today, here are two examples of things which are in the law:
If a bird's nest chance to be before thee in the way in any tree, or on the ground, whether they be young ones, or eggs, and the dam sitting upon the young, or upon the eggs, thou shalt not take the dam with the young:  But thou shalt in any wise let the dam go, and take the young to thee; that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days.
Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woollen and linen together.
These two examples show how the law governed every part of the life of the individual. The first one looks at the issue of hunting for food. They were to be careful about which animals they were to take to be their food, as they were not to take a mother bird. This was something they had to know and be careful of making sure they were actually doing this.
The second example deals with the clothing an individual wears. This means a piece of clothing is not to be made of more than one fabric. It doesn't take very long to realize this is another piece of the law which people break very easily. Most of the clothing we wear today is made using some form of a blend of fabrics. The simple fact a person gets dressed in the morning leads to them breaking the law.
This is why there was an issue of forgiveness which was needed. They were told what was true for those who break the covenant:
The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,  Hear ye the words of this covenant, and speak unto the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem;  And say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel; Cursed be the man that obeyeth not the words of this covenant,  Which I commanded your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, Obey my voice, and do them, according to all which I command you: so shall ye be my people, and I will be your God:  That I may perform the oath which I have sworn unto your fathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as it is this day. Then answered I, and said, So be it, O LORD.
Individuals who broke this covenant are identified as being cursed. There are no provisions for where a person could say they only broke a small part of the covenant and they were going to be fine. The issue of sin had to be taken care of for them in order to receive blessing from God (Psalm 32:1). This is something they had been looking for. The sacrificial system laid out in Leviticus chapters 4-6 was only a temporary covering for the issue of sin. This had to be done over and over again after they broke the covenant each time. This is something even David spoke of:
2 Samuel 24:10
And David's heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the LORD, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.
David realized the action which he had done was wrong. His reaction to this is to immediately ask for this to be taken away from him. He did not want this sin to be on his account. This is an interesting thought for someone who is identified as being after the heart of God. David also records a lot of information on this in one of the Psalms he wrote:
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.  Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.  For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.  Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.  Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.  Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.  Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.  Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.  Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.  Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.  Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.  Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.  Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.  Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.  O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.  For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.  Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.  Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.
This entire Psalm shows what was going on with David as he was going against the things of god and trying to deal with this. He had realized quickly there was sin which had been put onto his account through his actions. David was looking for the mercy to come upon him and for this sin to be covered. He mentions the sacrifices which would be done and how this sin was only against God. David could say this because he understood he had broken the covenant with God and needed forgiveness to come upon him in order to have a right standing with God again.
It is interesting for the issue of the sacrificial system to be mentioned in connection with this. The author of the book of Hebrews identifies the sacrifices were not pleasing to God (Hebrews 10:6). They were a constant reminder of the transgressions of Israel and were pointing to something much greater to take care of the sin issue.
One thing that so many people will say is the Lord Jesus Christ replaced the things of the law. By His own words we see this is not the case:
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.  Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
In what we call the Sermon on the Mount the Lord Jesus Christ is identifying how Israel is going to be able to enter into the kingdom which had been promised to them. The performance system is being laid out for them, which includes the law. The Lord Jesus Christ states He has not come to destroy the law. By stating the law was replaced in Matthew ignores the clear teaching of what the Bible says.
He then makes it much clearer to them when he starts to talk about specific things, using them as examples:
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:  But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
Here is another example:
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:  But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
Here the Lord Jesus Christ is discussing the things of the law. This is where people start getting into the replacement issue. He is not replacing the law at all. He is intensifying the law by taking it to the area of thoughts as well as the actions. The Lord Jesus Christ is identifying the process which leads to the actions where the individual is breaking the law. If they are even starting to have the thoughts of the action, they are as guilty as if they had actually done the action. Thankfully we are not under the law system today.
When we look at the issues of forgiveness being taught by the Lord Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry, we see the teaching which is done:
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.  For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.  But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
These two passages show the teaching of forgiveness. They are only going to receive this if they are actually forgiving others. This is a conditional forgiveness based on their actions. This is radically different than the forgiveness which the members of the Body of Christ receive.
This teaching of performance and taking care of sins goes all the way through His teaching:
And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?  And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.  He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,  Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?  Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.  But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.  Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.  And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.  When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?  But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
It is clear from this that they were going to have to keep the law in order to have salvation. Part of salvation is receiving of forgiveness, whether it happens sometime in the future or immediately. We have something completely different, which is what will be covered next.