Forgive Me - Again

To repent of sins means to change one’s mind about committing sins.  A person repents when he comes to the spiritual understanding that sin is an offense against God and that he has alienated himself from God by committing sin.  This person is grieved in spirit, and this grief is the godly sorrow that leads to repentance, the decision to cease from committing sin henceforth (2Cor. 7:10).  Thankfully, God is merciful, and He provides forgiveness of sins to the believer in Christ who repents and is immersed in water in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38).


Yet one who has received forgiveness of sins by the grace of God through repentance and immersion has not become immune to sin.  In fact, he is just as capable of committing sins after becoming a Christian as he was before.  Likewise, a Christian’s sins will alienate him from God just as they did before he was a Christian.  Therefore, the decision to cease from committing sin has to be more than just a thought.  It must be a lifetime resolution to resist sin.


This is why John wrote, “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (1John 3:9).  Upon first reading, one may think that John is teaching that a child of God is incapable of committing a sin.  Actually, John is addressing the “practice of sin,” i.e., the continual habit and lifestyle of sin that was advocated by the Gnostics in the first century (see 1John 3:7-8).  John is telling us that the life a child of God does not consist of the practice of sin.  A person who lives such a life is not a child of God.


However, John wrote that Christians do sin and that they must recognize and confess their sins before God (1John 1:8-10).  This means that Christians violate their resolutions to cease from sin.  Sometimes this happens due to ignorance.  Many times this happens due to a willful choice to indulge one’s own desires in defiance of the will of God.  Whatever the reason, the solution is the same – a Christian who has sinned must confess the sin to God, ask for forgiveness, and resolve again to sin no more, i.e., repent (Acts 8:22).


What a blessing this is!  Not only does God forgive us initially when we first commit to the Lord Jesus, but He is willing to forgive us again when we violate that commitment.  Moreover, He abounds in mercy so that He will forgive us again and again.  The Lord has taught us to forgive others according to the measure of forgiveness that we would like to receive from God (Matt. 6:14-15; 7:2; 18:21-35; Mark 11:25-26).  The only limitation to the amount of mercy that God will extend to us is our own willingness to be merciful to others.  Jesus told Peter to forgive his brother up to “seventy times seven” times.  If the Lord demands for us to forgive our brothers this often, then He is also willing to forgive us just as often.


Do not think that this is a license to sin.  As noted above, the child of God does not practice sin.  If anyone thinks that he can deceive God by living a life a sin intermingled with insincere pleas for forgiveness and repentance, he is mistaken.  “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap” (Gal. 6:7).  Christ set us free from sin so that sin would no longer have dominion over us, not so that we could sin with impunity (Rom. 6:1-14).


However, the sincere pleas of God’s children for forgiveness and repentance will be received, for God is rich in mercy and great in love (Eph. 2:4).  It is the great love of God that allows Him to overlook the offenses of His own children against Him.  Paul wrote that love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1Cor. 13:7).  In love, God is optimistic about His children, believing the sincere resolution of a repenting Christian to sin no more.


In all of this, it is the blood of Christ that provides atonement and forgiveness for our sins.  When we initially obey the gospel of Christ, the blood of Jesus washes away our sins.  Saul of Tarsus was told, “And now why do you delay?  Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name” (Acts 22:16).  Once we are Christians, the blood of Christ is just as effective to cleanse us from all sin – “…but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1John 1:7).  Therefore, we can be forgiven of sins, and when we fail, we can be forgiven again.  Praise God for His bountiful spiritual blessings in Christ!


Stacey E. Durham


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