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How Can I Know That I'm Forgiven?

In Mark 2:1-12, we read of an occasion when the Lord healed a man who was paralyzed.  Jesus was in a house so crowded with people that the paralytic’s friends could not bring him in to the Lord.  Instead, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and lowered the man on his pallet into the room.  The Lord said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.”  When the scribes began thinking to themselves that Jesus had blasphemed, He said, “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Arise, and take up your pallet and walk’?”  Then, to prove His point, Jesus commanded the paralytic to rise, take up his pallet, and walk, which he immediately did.

By displaying the authority of God in a way the people could see, Jesus proved to the people that He also had the authority of God to do that which they could not see.  No one could perform miracles of healing without the power of God, so no one could deny that Jesus had this power.  Yet Jesus did not perform this miracle just to prove that He had God’s power to heal.  His point was to prove His authority to forgive sins.  The evidence of the paralytic’s healing, which the people could see with their eyes, proved what they could not see with their eyes, which was that the paralytic was also forgiven of his sins by the authority of Christ.

Likewise for us, the things that Christ has done in the temporal world prove that He can also do what He has promised for us in the spiritual realm.  His many miracles, His resurrection, and His ascension to heaven all give evidential testimony for the authority of Jesus Christ.  These things were seen by many witnesses and recorded in the Scriptures for our knowledge and faith (John 20:30-31; Acts 2:22; 1Cor. 15:1-8).  Because Jesus displayed this undeniable authority for men to see, we can know that He also has authority to provide forgiveness of our sins, just as He did for the paralytic.

Evidence of Christ’s authority continues to be seen today in the lives of Christians.  Consider this: how many prayers have you offered to God in the name of Christ?  How many of those have been positively answered for you?  Certainly, most of the petitions that you have offered to the Father in Christ’s name have been granted to you, for you ask daily for your food, clothing, shelter, and health, and you have them.  Moreover, there are other peculiar requests that you have made of God that you have also received.  If God will provide these things to you, then will He not also provide forgiveness according to His Word?  Give God the glory for granting you these things in the name of Christ.

While we have received many things from God for which we can see the evidence, we cannot see the evidence of forgiveness.  Nevertheless, we can know for certain that we have been forgiven because we can see the evidence of those things that accompany forgiveness.  Faith is one condition that God requires for our forgiveness, and it becomes evident by the works that we do.  James wrote, “Show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (Jas. 2:18).  Repentance is another condition of forgiveness (Acts 3:19), and it is also manifested through works.  The preaching of John the baptist, Jesus, and the apostles included the necessity of performing deeds appropriate for repentance (Matt. 3:8; 4:17; Acts 26:20).  Baptism is yet another condition of forgiveness (Acts 2:38) for which we can see the evidence.  If the evidence of faith, repentance, and baptism can be seen in us, then we can also be assured that we are forgiven of our sins according to God’s will.

Let us not be deceived into thinking that any one of these things is sufficient evidence for us to be assured of our forgiveness.  We know that the unrighteous receive the blessings of God, but they are not forgiven (Matt. 5:45).  Likewise, one may have been baptized, but that does not ensure salvation if he becomes unfaithful.  However, taken altogether, when we meet God’s conditions for forgiveness and receive God’s blessings, we have every reason to be secure in our forgiveness through the Lord Jesus Christ.  Let us therefore rejoice and be glad for the wonderful blessings we have through Him.

Stacey E. Durham



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