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Forgiveness

Forgiveness is one of the most important doctrines in the Bible.

God was serious about forgiveness, and Jesus paid a high price to provide it. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph, he said, “…you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).

Hebrews teaches us much about the subject of forgiveness. In Hebrews 9 and 10, the writer of Hebrews compares what the Old Testament sacrifices accomplished for the saints in those days to what Jesus has done for us today in the new covenant. Under the old covenant, the blood of bulls and goats was brought in to the tabernacle and offered as a covering for the sins of the people. This was done once every year by the high priest and served only to cover sins, not to remove them.

For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. —Hebrews 10:1-2 (NKJV)

This was the best they could hope for until the true sacrifice came to make an offering for sins once and for all. If this Old Testament method had been sufficient to forgive sins, it would not have had to be repeated every year.

But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. —Hebrews 10:3-4 (NKJV)

Animal sacrifices were never intended to be the final solution to the sin problem. Jesus is the true sacrifice for sins, and the teaching in Hebrews makes a great distinction between Jesus’ blood and the blood of animals offered in the tabernacle. The blood of animals used to cover the sins of the people was offered countless times by the high priest over the years.

What Jesus did was sufficient to forgive sins forever. Consequently, He only had to do it one time. The words one and once are used seven times in Hebrews 9 and 10.

Let’s look at two instances in Hebrews 9:

He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. —Hebrews 9:26 (NKJV)

So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. —Hebrews 9:28 (NKJV)

The word once has great significance as it pertains to forgiveness. He only had to do this one time. One time was enough to settle the sin debt!

Jesus came to set us free from sin. He died on the cross, and at some point after the resurrection, He ascended to the true holy of holies before the very throne of God in heaven. He offered His holy, spotless blood to the Father as payment for our sins. We get a glimpse of this wonderful event when Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene just after His resurrection.

Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. —John 20:17 (KJV)

Most Bible scholars believe this is the point at which He took His blood and offered it as an eternal atonement for sin. He had already defeated Satan, and now He was ascending to the Father to present His blood in the holy of holies. This was the ultimate payment necessary for our forgiveness. Notice the following verses in Hebrews 10:

By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. —Hebrews 10:10-14 (NKJV)

In addition to the words one and once, these verses add the words for all and forever. What this means to us is that what Jesus did over two thousand years ago has forgiven us all, forever. One sacrifice, for all sins, forever. There will never have to be another payment. Jesus’ blood was enough!

Then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more,” (Heb. 10:17-18 NKJV)

Not only are sins forgiven, but they are also forgotten. God does not remember them anymore. That means when you approach God in prayer, He’s not going to remind you of your past mistakes, so you shouldn’t spend your time reminding Him. He has forgiven and forgotten them. There is no use in digging them back up and living in the past.

Along with the sin went guilt and condemnation. Let it go! You must accept the teaching in Hebrews about forgiveness and accept forgiveness for your own sins. This is not a doctrine for everyone else. It is for you!

Some people need help accepting God’s forgiveness. I am in no way diminishing the awfulness of sin; it is bad. It’s even worse than we know. However, the value of the blood of Jesus is greater than we ever dreamed. It is the blood that forgives and the incomprehensible value of His blood that paid our debt. God accepted it as payment for all sins for all time.

When you continue to feel guilty over past sins and try to pay for them with your own emotions or actions, you’re not accepting what Jesus did as full payment. You can never add to what He did. He paid the price in full. Your suffering doesn’t add to what He did; it doesn’t count.

Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin. —Hebrews 10:18

There is no longer an offering for sin. It’s already paid for. It’s time to move on. Don’t think that of all the people that have ever lived, you have committed some sin that not even Jesus can forgive. Not so. Don’t flatter yourself, His blood was enough even for your worst sins. It’s not the power of your sin or the result of your mistakes that remains. It’s the power of His blood that overcomes. No amount of grieving or tears or sadness can add to what He’s done for you. You can’t punish yourself to assist Him in paying for your sins.

When memories of past sins return to condemn you with feelings of guilt and condemnation, remember what Jesus did for you and count on the value of His blood to forgive, save and redeem.

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