“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”
– Hebrews 4:16
We have all heard talk and teachings about the unforgivable sin, but the unforgivable sinner is rarely spoken of. We don’t talk about sinners not being forgiven because as Christians our entire faith is built upon the belief of forgiveness for all who ask. And because as Christians we know that we ourselves are forgiven … aren’t we?
The truth is, yes, we are fully forgiven in Christ. Yet a sad fact is many of us live our new lives as if we were still without forgiveness. We conduct our days from confession to confession, ever seeking God’s mercy on us for who we are and what we’ve done. Our mood is marked by a sense of apology and contrition as we seek mercy for ourselves, not understanding that we are being rendered ineffective in the service of our King.
We fail to come boldly to the throne of His grace.
a sad fact is many of us live our new lives as if we were still without forgiveness
To gain a better understanding of this, consider someone in your life who you respect and who has authority in your life. Maybe a parent or grandparent, a teacher, an older sibling – someone whose opinion really matters to you. Now imagine you did something against them, perhaps you stole money or a possession of theirs, and you were discovered. Your first thought might be to try and make an excuse or to justify it, but inside you know there really is no excuse so you eventually confess to them your guilt, and you try to tell them how sorry you are for what you did to them. You offer to restore or make up for what you’ve cost them because you can feel your own heart breaking for what you’ve done to them.
Now imagine they smiled, gave you a big hug and said not to worry about it. They tell you that you are completely forgiven and ask you to stay for supper. During supper they laugh with you about funny times you’ve shared with them in the past and it is as if you never stole from them. You are happy with them just like before.
The next morning you wake up and begin to think again about what you had done to them when you stole. When the phone rings you don’t answer because you can see on call display it’s them. When they come to the door you keep quiet and don’t answer, pretending that no one is home. When you accidentally bump into them in the afternoon you quickly make an excuse why you weren’t at home – even though you were there – and nervously laugh when they ask how you’re doing and make up another excuse of having to be somewhere soon. You start to believe in your own guilt again, and you feel ashamed to be around them. You find every reason you can to avoid them from then on.
But let’s look at another option:
The next morning you wake up and begin to think again about what you had done to them when you stole. When the phone rings, this time you answer it and talk with them. You tell them how you’re still feeling bad about what you’ve done, and they begin to assure you it’s all good. You’re forgiven. And after a little while you begin to feel as happy and accepted as you did the night before. You go on with your day, confident because that dark weight is not on your shoulders. You don’t avoid phone calls or meeting people and you are useful for many things throughout that day. And you aren’t afraid to go visit them or to give them a call because you are reminded by their attitude that what you did will never be brought up by them again – it’s as if you never stole from them at all. You can boldly approach them just like before.
And it’s the same with our forgiveness in Christ. The more time we spend with Him in prayer and in His word, the more we grow in being convinced of our forgiveness and the bolder we can be to approach Him at any time – for any reason. It is as if we never sinned in His eyes. He will never bring those things up again.
“And he has taken our sins as far away from us as the east is from the west.”
– Psalms 103:12
“I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”
– Isaiah 43:25
Unfortunately, so many of us get distracted and caught up in our day to day lives and we let go of that communication with our Lord. And as that assurance He provides diminishes it gets replaced with the old guilt – that same guilt that leads us to find excuses to not pray or read His word. Then as that guilt builds we eventually turn to Him and agonize about how bad we are and how sorry we are, and we beg Him to forgive us, and then we return to our distractions once again only to repeat that cycle – over and over and over again.
But shouldn’t our turning to Him cleanse us and give us a fresh start? Not in the way we might think. If, as a Christian, we told a lie or stole, that is an act that would cause us guilt and one that we would turn to Him for. He in His faithfulness would tell us that He forgave us ALL our sin – past, present, and future – and He would assure us of our value and worth. We would go forward from there confident and assured – boldly. So in that case, yes, He picks us up and inspires in us that fresh start feeling of going forward and not looking back. But, the guilt that renders us useless is not related to an act of sin but an ongoing state of sin. We come to believe in how unworthy we are and we act worthless as a result. Christ cleansed us and made us new creations, but that state of guilt is seeking forgiveness for something that no longer exists. We’re bringing up the things He said He will no longer remember.
we beg Him to forgive us, and then we return to our distractions once again only to repeat that cycle – over and over and over again
Jesus certainly does not want us stuck in such a cycle. He desires our hearts to be good ground that bears fruit to the glory of our Father. And that good ground is a heart that believes Him, and believes in His righteousness. Believing Him is the easier of the two. James wrote in chapter 2, verse 19, “You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.” What is harder for many of us to believe is His righteousness. Did you know that righteousness and justice are the same word used in the Greek and the same word in the Hebrew? They define as equitable, fair, without prejudice. And that means what Scripture already tells us – God does not get influenced by the status or state of any person, but is good to all without variance. That means if He forgives one who turns to Him, He forgives all. There is no one who turns to Him where He would say, “Not this one.” There is no unforgivable sinner.
And because we are blessed to share in His righteousness then we, too, learn to not be influenced by the status or state of any person. And we do not say, “Not this one.” And we do not say, “Not me.” But we all must – must – continue daily with our Lord, speaking with Him and listening to His word. He is the encouragement that reminds us of our forgiveness and acceptance, and our confidence to boldly approach Him and to serve Him usefully. Without His influence we are left to the ways of a sinful world, of flesh, and of the devil. And they do not understand God’s righteousness and so our ears and hearts are not reminded of our forgiveness – only about how bad we are. We need God daily.
There is no unforgivable sinner.
A forgiven person dares to ask Jesus to heal another. They dare to help the elderly and the young with their strength. They dare to ask help from their Father for their needs. They dare to intercede on behalf of another’s needs. They dare to give freely and with joy. They are useful to our Master and His service because they are reminded daily how loved and accepted they are by the Lord Himself.
An unforgiven person sits often alone, lamenting their shame and begging forgiveness. They try to serve but joy often escapes them. They neglect fellowship with Jesus and His children and only hear the words of condemnation that the world and the devil reinforce daily. They cannot usefully serve the Master.
Settle it in the truth then. You are forgiven, and you must to be reminded of this daily through your abiding in Christ and in His word and in His fellowship. Then boldly go forth – fully forgiven and fully useful in His service 🙂