'Christ in You...'
by Dale Krebbs
A few years ago an award winning movie came out entitled ”Unforgiven”. Have you ever felt that you have not been forgiven by someone? Most of us have experienced either a spoken unforgiving or an unspoken unforgiveness by someone at some time in our lives. It is a most painful cross to bear - knowing we are not guilty as charged by someone. Equally painful is someone’s refusal to forgive us when we are truly sorry for an offense, and then not being forgiven when we ask to be forgiven.
Have you ever felt somehow that you have not been forgiven by God? Do you know - for certain - that you have been forgiven by God?
For some truly converted and surrendered people of God, they are not yet truly convinced that they have been forgiven. Some have lived their lives as best they have known how for twenty-plus years, without being fully persuaded that God has totally and completely forgiven their past - even though they know down deep that they have confessed and repented of their sin. Sometimes it takes years for a new child of God to really be convinced that they have been completely, and for all eternity, forgiven. Some live for many years in a kind of subconscious awareness of their past sin, and mentally try to somehow make what was done have a different outcome in their minds and emotions. Their life in Christ is extra burdensome. They somehow cannot let go of the way it was back there. Christ never intended for it to be this way (Matthew 11:28-30).
This is truly tragic. But it is true, much more than we would like to believe.
Ironically, there is a flip side to this. Some feel so forgiven that they forget about their sin. Somehow, sin just doesn’t seen to exist anymore for them - or in them. They somehow misunderstand sin, and their relationship to it. When they think or commit an offense, it doesn’t become an issue at all. Repentance does not come into mind. They feel no guilt. They see nothing to change. Somehow they forget what sin is, that in its its simplest form it is the transgsression of God's Law (1 John 3:4).
We were, are, and will be forgiven in Christ, if He is in us. We were, are, and will be guilty of sin until we are immortal, when we will be guiltless forever because we will then be perfect in character. However, guilt is the reason for the necessity for continuous repentance. We are, as long as we are in the flesh, sinners. No one is sinless, although legally considered sinless in Christ. Although legally considered righteous, we are to continually "die daily" to sin (1 Corinthians 15:31), constantly putting to death the old self as it were, and putting on the "new man", the new creature - a new creation - in Christ. We furnish the desire to surrender amd obey. Christ furnishes the power.
Some feel that they can never be guilty again, since they have been forgiven of their past sin. They have forgotten that each new day creates another “past”, tomorrow. There is strong warning against taking liberties for sin (Hebrews 10:26-31; Jude 1:3-4)). Some do so perhaps mostly because they do not understand how their salvation works. It is not forgiveness that makes us righteous. We are accounted righteous, in God's sight, even as Abraham was. The legal claim against us made by the Law is forgiven, and not counted against us. But guiltlessness will only come when we become perfect, and thereby incapable of sinning.
When Jesus came, as an innocent and perfect substitute, He offered to take our place. We had the death sentence pronounced against us. When we accepted His death in our place, He expected us to forsake what had brought us under the penalty of eternal death. If someone is given the death sentence, and one comes and takes his place, the freed one does not then have license to go out and commit the offence again. He is free, and remains free, only so long as he does not repeat the offense. Or - and this is where the unimaginable grace of God comes into full play - if the Christian does commit even the same offense again, if he truly repents (in true remorse and intends to never commit the offense again), Christ sacrifice may be claimed again. He is set free again. As Jesus told the woman accused, “go your way, and sin no more…”. So must we all be intent upon doing. The intent of our heart is to “sin no more”.
Think of the unimaginable grace of God in this. It is tantamount to someone volunteering to die in our place, and then as long as we repent form the heart, and intend never to do it again - although we do - we will be forgiven. And yes, again, and again, and again… The qualifying difference is that between sinning, and serving sin:
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin live any longer therein?” Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? “ - Romans 6:1-3
For a truly surrendered Christian, there is no lifestyle or pattern of sinfulness. They do not make deliberate habit of sinning. It is not a lifestyle. A Christian who is truly converted, is made aware by the Holy Spirit when he/she sins. This is because the Holy Spirit is also continually informing and educating our conscience regarding all that is sin, whether in thought, word, or deed. It is important to Him what our thought patterns are. He knows every thought, no matter how fleeting, casual, or pondered they are. Part of the problem of sin in action is that it is formed in thought first. Technically, an action must be proceeded by a thought, although often not registered as a thought. Even our thoughts must be repented of, and brought into subjection to the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 10:5).
The Apostle John makes it clear that we should not sin - but - if we do, we should ask forgiveness, and we will receive forgiveness:
“If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude and lead ourselves astray, and the Truth [which the Gospel presents] is not in us [does not dwell in our hearts]. 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]. If we say (claim) we have not sinned, we contradict His Word and make Him out to be false and a liar, and His Word is not in us [the divine message of the Gospel is not in our hearts].” - 1 John 1:8-10 (Amplified Bible)
The Apostle Paul lived in such a way that he “knew nothing against” himself (1 Corinthians 4:4). However, there were times when he could only say “Oh wretched man that I am!”.(Romans 7:24) The reality is that we should not sin. Sin defiles our conscience. Upon repentance and asking God for forgiveness, the Holy Spirit will clear our conscience, and we can have peace with ourselves and with God again. This was the experience of the Apostle Paul. It is the experience of all those whose hearts are surrendered to Christ.
If one has totally repented of the lifestyle of sin, has asked forgiveness, and desires above all else to stop sinning and surrender to God without reservation, there is and has been complete forgiveness. Those sins of the past God has blotted out. So much so, that He will not even think of them again. If this is true of you, be assured - you have been forgiven. And also be assured, that when made aware of a sin, you should confess it privately before a loving Savior. If you heart is right, he will accept you and comfort you with open arms. That sin will never be thought of again.
There is a gospel melody that says what all this is about. Take all your sins to the foot of the cross, “and leave them there”. Once repented of, we are stealing from Christ. He bought them - at a very high price. They are His now. Let them go.
And as you go, “go and sin no more”...
"What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Absolutely not! Do you not know that if you present yourselves as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves to sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were entrusted to, and having been freed from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness." - Romans 6:15-18 (NET)
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