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Defining the Activity of Forgiveness

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Defining the Activity of Forgiveness

MP3 Audio (12.75 MB)


Defining the Activity of Forgiveness

MP3 Audio (12.75 MB)

Today we are going to define the activity of forgiveness that God initiates and completes when we say “father forgive me, a sinner.” It is my hope that it will be instructional & encouraging as we approach the renewing of the New Covenant at Passover. And so, that like David--when someone needs to know, you “may teach transgressors God’s ways." So that both you and they can know that when God says we are forgiven of our sins we really are and if He does so, we need to forgive ourselves, as well as others.

Sermon Notes

The Activity of Forgiveness




In Psalms 51:10-12 Psalms 51:10-12 [10] Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. [11] Cast me not away from your presence; and take not your holy spirit from me. [12] Restore to me the joy of your salvation; and uphold me with your free spirit.
American King James Version×
, King David earnestly implores God to restore to me the joy of your salvation.  He then emphatically adds: then I will teach transgressors (sinners) your ways.


In the aftermath of his interlude with Bathsheba, David proclaims something we all need to be reminded of daily. We are being saved, and saved by none other than God.


It’s been said, “that forgiveness is man’s greatest need, & Gods highest achievement”


David WAS forgiven, and life went on & he was used to leave ageless words & concepts for us to understand God’s forgiveness towards sinners.


Have you ever considered how you would teach others, transgressors, as David puts it; “your ways”/God’s ways when it comes to how He deals with our sins?


Where do we begin?  What would we say?  We could just say, “well, He forgives us,” but God actually spells out forgiveness in scripture by adding dimensions, color and movement to allow us to understand the depth of His great love for us. 




Today we are going to define the “Activity of Forgiveness” that God initiates and completes when we say “father forgive me, a sinner.” It is my hope that it will be instructional & encouraging as we approach the renewing of the New Covenant at Passover. And so, that like David;--when someone needs to know, you “may teach transgressors God’s ways”.  So that both you & they can know that when God says we are forgiven of our sins we really are & if He does so, we need to forgive ourselves, as well as others.




But first, let’s understand what needs to be forgiven. 


Sin is sin. It is not just simply a mistake, oversight, accident or misunderstanding

Sin and why we sin is clearly defined in 1 John 3:1-8 1 John 3:1-8 [1] Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not. [2] Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. [3] And every man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure. [4] Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. [5] And you know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. [6] Whoever stays in him sins not: whoever sins has not seen him, neither known him. [7] Little children, let no man deceive you: he that does righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. [8] He that commits sin is of the devil; for the devil sins from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
American King James Version×
  sin is “the breaking of God’s law”
( Authorized Version)—“Whoever commits sin transgresses the law”  To transgress means to “violate or go beyond the boundary”/ it violates the very work of Christ to destroy sin/ we sin because we do not abide in Christ/it comes from the devil/ it is conquered by the work of God through Christ


Sin brings penalty as stated in Ezekiel 18:4 Ezekiel 18:4Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sins, it shall die.
American King James Version×
---soul that sins will die!  Very real outcome!


Many of us in this room are familiar with these verses. But familiarity, belief & action are all very different junctures on the road to salvation.


Sin is not something that can be kept in the cupboards of our lives and we move forward as if everything is alright.  That’s why Christ instituted the immediacy of forgive us our debts, right after He enunciated give us our daily bread.  We can’t live long without bread & we can’t go on long in our sins. Why?   Isaiah 58:1-2 Isaiah 58:1-2 [1] Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. [2] Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.
American King James Version×
Because our sins separate us from God


But God goes to great lengths to describe what He does with our sins, once those who truly believe, says three of the most precious words that can be spoken---“Father forgive me”.


From this point forward allow me to add bridge scriptures and imagery right out of the Bible to show how God re-connects us from the separation wrought by sin.  As we do it should give us great joy to vividly see the process of redemption unfold before us


1) Took them Away-John 1:29 John 1:29The next day John sees Jesus coming to him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.
American King James Version×
—the sacrificial language of John’s words allows us to understand that this was Christ’s primary mission.  It was not a gradual awareness, but                       His mission out of the starting blocks.

In Old Testament a lamb was slain every morning & evening at temple for to remind Israel of the breath of sin among them and the need for sacrifice


Isaiah prophesied (Isaiah 53:7 Isaiah 53:7He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opens not his mouth.
American King James Version×
a lamb would be offered up and like Mt Moriah of old, God would “provide” the ultimate sacrifice


“Who takes”—take the word at face value, “to take” means it is no longer in place. It has been removed. Definitions---to get possession of; to receive, absorb, swallow willingly, to convey, move or conduct to a different place.


Bottom line---Christ swallowed our sins, that we might not drown in them.


Yes, our sins have been taken from us, if we have confessed them to God. Real Action!        


2) Remitted Them----Matthew 26:28 Matthew 26:28For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
American King James Version×
the Greek root for remission conveys “sending away.”  I.E.= Dismissal or release---as full payment is rendered.  Definition of “remit” in English is to send money as payment for goods, thus they may be released. 


I.E. Christ gave His blood as the purchase price of sin. Something had “to be sent” of value equaling the commodity purchased so it might be “released” or dismissed. The preciousness of that one sacrifice paid out a price-----bought our sins.          Something you and I could never do.


A little boy came to the Washington Monument and noticed a guard standing by it. The little boy looked at the guard and said, “I want to buy it.” The guard stooped down and said, “how much do you have.”  The boy reached into his pocked and pulled out a quarter.   The guard said, “ that’s not enough.”  The boy said, “I thought you would say that.”  So the boy pulled out 9 cents more!  The guard looked down at the boy and said you need to understand 3 things.    First of all—“34 cents isn’t enough. 34 million dollars wouldn’t be enough!”  Second of all---“The monument is not for sale. Never has been, never will be.”  And third of all—“If you are an American citizen the monument already belongs to you.”


Likewise there are 3 things about forgiveness we need to understand.  1) We can’t earn it 2) It’s not for sale, 3) If we truly believe in God and repent---it is already ours.   


3) Purged Them---Hebrews 1:3 Hebrews 1:3Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:
American King James Version×
The word purge means to thoroughly cleanse or rid of anything undesirable.  We often speak of “purges” of having to rid undesirables. The very term denotes a scrubbing thru & thru of the deepest order with nothing overlooked, but completely eliminated.    New Living Translation –“cleansed us from stain of sin”


God goes deep, and can go deep. The author of Hebrews purposefully connects God’s creative powers with His saving powers--nothing escapes the expression of His purpose!


4) Cleansed Us from Them—1 John 1:5-9 1 John 1:5-9 [5] This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. [6] If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: [7] But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleans us from all sin. [8] If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. [9] If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
American King James Version×
The use of the word-cleanses-in verses 5&7 is from a Gk. root word that denotes making clean from stain or dirt as in the case of utensils----i.e.---again it is thorough w/o stain.  


But the key here is what the confession and cleansing does draw us back into the fellowship as proclaimed in v. 3 & 5


Why is such confession needed and required?

1) We align & come into agreement with God that our sin is sin, & desire to turn from it.

2) Such confession gives us transparency b/4 God, not hiding from Him, or frankly, ourselves

3) Brings us into realism that our human tendency is to sin, & that we need H.S. to overcome


Such confession should not be based on fear, that we’ve gone down a list and forgotten something, or some detail again and again---lest we are cursed, but based on faith that God’s great motivating force is to forgive (Psalms 86:5 Psalms 86:5For you, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy to all them that call on you.
American King James Version×
ready to forgive)
, so much so that this is why He sent His Son into world, not to condemn but save! (John 3:16-17 John 3:16-17 [16] For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. [17] For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
American King James Version×


Yes, we turn to God, because it says, He will abundantly pardon—Isaiah 55:7 Isaiah 55:7Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
American King James Version×


from every sin!!!!  This is more than an understanding, but an article of faith—that Christ’s sacrifice is bigger than our biggest sin----no stain to deep----not to be expunged.

Not only to give us spiritual healing, but mental & emotional rest—cleanses our conscience (Hebrews 9:14 Hebrews 9:14How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
American King James Version×
not what men know or note about us---but what we internally carry & burden ourselves with as to what we’ve done—rather than what God wants yet to do with us. 


Such cleansing goes deep----in Isaiah 1:18 Isaiah 1:18Come now, and let us reason together, said the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
American King James Version×
---as clean as freshly fallen snow

  5) Forgiven and Covered Them-Psalms 32:1 Psalms 32:1Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
American King James Version×
covered, buried---no longer in view

I.E----out of sight out of mind---no longer vivid,  and the hands that cover it have nail holes in it---the great covering of “Yom Kippur”   


6) Not Imputed to Us—Psalms 32:2 Psalms 32:2Blessed is the man to whom the LORD imputes not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
American King James Version×
The term inpute in English conveys “to attribute something as a mistake, thus making a charge.  The Hebrew root conveys---“devising or reckoning.  We often bring these thoughts together by the expression—“imputing motives”


What this is stating is once God covers our sin ---there is no more thinking, or devising towards penalty----as there is no connection between what has been done and the future

                   whose record the Lord has cleared of sin ( New Living Trans.)


7) Cast Them Behind His Back—Isaiah 38:17 Isaiah 38:17Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but you have in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for you have cast all my sins behind your back.
American King James Version×
—simply behind Him, not his focus. He sees a future for us with Him ahead, not what is behind.  God is not looking at the baggage of where we’ve come from, or been----but where we are headed out in front.  


8) Removed Them—Psalms 103:12 Psalms 103:12As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
American King James Version×
—God uses this figuration of speech to further solidify that when He forgives, He forgets to attach the past or the penalty.  East and west travel in different directions----east and west do not meet---going in different directions.


God is omnisciet, all knowing!  This is not about spiritual or mental amnesia, but a choice solidified by sustained forbearance to take off judgment from the action.


Isaiah 43:25 Isaiah 43:25I, even I, am he that blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and will not remember your sins.
American King James Version×
explains it this way (God alone) “blots out”—to rub or wipe off—no longer thinks about it.


If we are to ever be with God forever, we must practice such forgiveness today.


9) Cast Them into the Sea—Micah 7:18-20 Micah 7:18-20 [18] Who is a God like to you, that pardons iniquity, and passes by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retains not his anger for ever, because he delights in mercy. [19] He will turn again, he will have compassion on us; he will subdue our iniquities; and you will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. [20] You will perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.
American King James Version×
—and puts up “no fishing allowed sign.”




When David states restore to me the joy of your salvation in great part He is proclaiming the ability of knowing that when we repent, God forgives. And how all encompassing that activity of forgiveness -----that God takes our sincere repentance of sin---and takes that act against Him-----and forgives it, meaning He covers it, removes it, blots it out, remits its, cleanses us thru and thru, puts it behind his back, cast it into the sea and throws the action in the opposite direction of where the penalty would take us.


Why? Because God loves you. That’s more than an emotion, it’s a fact & scripture shows

the intensity & dynamism of His active work to move in barriers between He & us.


We too, have a work to perform, and that’s the rest of the statement in the Lord’s Prayer—forgive us, as we forgive our debtors.  Believing in God’s saving work towards us, is manifested in our obedience to Him to forgive others as we have been, and so we will be forgiven-----doing so, is sharing in the joy of salvation, and teaching transgressors His way-----------not by what you know, or say----but what you do.


*Before we bear the crown of salvation, we too must bear a cross---Matthew 16:24 Matthew 16:24Then said Jesus to his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
American King James Version×


Two of Jesus last sayings on the cross are utterly profound


Luke 23:34 Luke 23:34Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.
American King James Version×
—“father forgive them for they know not what they do”

Luke 23:46 Luke 23:46And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into your hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.
American King James Version×
---Father , “into your hands, I commit my spirit ( a forgiving spirit


Christ-Son of God--full of the Spirit/  Stephen--Child of God full of the Spirit Acts 7:59-60 Acts 7:59-60 [59] And they stoned Stephen, calling on God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. [60] And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
American King James Version×


The parallel is “telling” to remind us that the activity of forgiveness starts with God & flows through us that we might experience the joy of salvation, as we “teach transgressors His ways.”

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