Healing Power

Running commentary on how Jesus' Healing Power is affecting my life - and helping me to help others.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

What is Forgiveness and Grace?

Martin Luther was a devoted monk who invented new methods of scourging in order to cleanse himself from sin. He believed that he was so filthy, the normal scourges and fasts would not prove to God that he was genuinely interested in changing his ways - that he was repenting. This is what the Catholic church had taught him.

Then, one day, he read a book that the Catholics did not preach from: Romans.
Romans 5:1-5, NIV
since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Romans 7:4-6, NIV
you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.

Paul wrote this:
Romans 7:21-25, 8:1-4 NIV
I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

God forgives those who claim His pardon from sin. God forgives all, regardless of what they have done, from their sins and welcomes them with open arms. in Romans 8:1, Paul tells us "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus".

Now, the question may be, "How do I know I'm in Christ Jesus?"

Here's the answer:
1 John 1:5-7, NIV
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

For years, I claimed to have fellowship with Him, but I walked in the darkness. I would sit in topless joints, whacked out of my gourd on tequila, and claim I was a Christian. I would lie, cheat and steal - and claim I was a Christian. I did not feel pain when I sinned against God.

One day, all that changed. I became a Christian. I did not miraculously stop sinning that moment, but I strive to be like Christ in every way. I fail miserably. But we are called to repentance. Therefore, I know I walk in the light. I now feel pain when I sin.
1 John 2:1-6, NIV
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

OK - so Christ speaks to the Father in our defense. He has already atoned for our sins past, present and future. (has to be future - all of our sins occurred after his atoning sacrifice!) All we have to do is obey His commands.

Well, what are those commands?
1 John 2:7-11, NIV
Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.

Those commands, quite simply, are the core of all of the Apostle John's sermons after the resurrection. Those commands are the reason he was exiled to live on the island of Patmos. Legend tells us that the Apostle John would sit in on Christian meetings. When asked to speak, he would get up and say six simple words: "My dear children, love one another." That is the command.

Love God with everything you are. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. These are the Two Great Commands (as paraphrased by Clay). Life according to these simple rules should be easy, right? Well don't forget that we are always tempted to fall from these rules.
1 John 1:8-9, NIV
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Romans 3:10-12, NIV
As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. 12All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one."

So none of us is without sin. Some of us believe that our particular sin may be worse than others, hence unforgivable. But these passages, prayerfully considered by the author, prove otherwise. Paul said "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst." (1 Timothy 1:15, NIV) Paul believed himself to be the worst of sinners, yet we consider him to be one of the greatest apostles. He was responsible for spreading the word of Christ to the Gentiles.

I honestly believe that if Hitler had a deathbed confession, he would be resting in Abraham's bosom right now. None of us know otherwise, therefore we don't know if Hitler is in Heaven or Hell.

I honestly believe that if Saddam Hussein had a pre-rope confession, he would be resting in Abraham's boson right now. None of us know otherwise, therefore we don't knowif Hussein is in Heaven or Hell.

I honestly believe that if I confess my sins to the Lord I will be resting in Abraham's bosom when I leave this earth. I have done so, and have felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life. I believe I am Heaven-bound. I try not to be self-righteous as so many in the church, because I am no better than anyone else. No better than the prisoners or homeless; no better than Joseph Stalin or David Koresh.

I pray that those out there who believe their sins are unforgivable will read this l-o-n-g passage and find redemption. I pray that those out there who are unwilling to sacrifice their lives for God will find that they are already forgiven for their sins, if they will but accept that forgiveness.

Thanks for reading.


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