I am still very focused on the verse from last week’s lesson, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). Of course, the believing part is centered on Christ and what He has done and continues to do to set us free from the consequences of our sin. I use the word continues, because what He did on the cross some two thousand years ago and what He did when we obeyed that gospel, still goes on today. Thus, there is reason for joy, peace and hope to be present in our daily walk with Christ. What I would like to do for the next few weeks is remind us of some of those things are which should cause us to leap for joy, as well as bring us peace of mind. Our hope is not just in what is to come, but in what Christ promises to do each day we walk with Him. So, I thought I would start with what some may say is the central objective of Christ’s sacrifice, forgiveness.
The power of forgiveness is far reaching, going beyond the believer. Yet, its ability to do so is dependent upon the conviction we have about our own struggle with sin to this very day. You may remember from the series of lesson on Colossians, that those early Christians were exhorted to forgive one another “even as Christ forgave you” (Colossians 3:13). I can’t tell you how many times I have asked someone the question, “You know you are forgiven, right?” Only to hear back, “I hope so.” That sort of hope was not what I spoke about last week. And if I were to be honest, I have thought that way on too many occasions during my walk with Christ. So, when such doubt seeks to rule my thoughts, I seek to take it captive with the following text.
But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another,
and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 1st John 1:7
I will say it right up front; we have obligations if we are in Christ. If we were to try and put it into words, we may simply say we are called to “walk in the light.” The ETRV say, “We should live in the light, where God is.” What does that mean? One commentator writes, “Leading lives of holiness and purity; that is, the Christian must be characteristically a holy man, a light in the world, by his example.” This thought is rooted in biblical truths (1st Peter 1:16; Matthew 5:14-16). That said, no one is perfect after they come to Christ, right? Right! The apostle Paul’s words from Romans 7:15 cry out, “I don’t understand why I act the way I do. I don’t do the good I want to do, and I do the evil I hate” (ETRV). I can so relate to this verse, can’t you? In our journey of transformation, we will find ourselves fighting the battle against sin, and we will not always be victorious. Our hope need not waiver, because “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” CLEAN! Because of Him we can claim holiness! One commentator writes, “There is no stain made by sin so deep that the blood of Christ cannot take it entirely away from the soul.” Do you believe it? You cannot know true freedom if you don’t. You cannot have real hope if you can’t. The good news is not for a day when we obeyed the gospel, it is for a lifetime for those who trust in His work on the cross and seek to walk in His light, as imperfect that may be. So, if that wasn’t enough, the Holy Spirit felt it necessary to repeat this very idea.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins,
He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1st John 1:8-9
When it comes to those in Christ, I have found few who believe they are without sin. Many simply wallow in their awareness of personal sin, being held captive to their own past, no matter how recent it may be. I have been there; you know, trying to cover my sins. If I were to be honest, that feeling at times resulted in me being far more judgmental towards others, all to try and ease my conscience. It didn’t work! What does? Being honest with God. The word confess means to acknowledge. Proverbs 28:13, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” God is faithful and will fulfill His promise to forgive. He will “cleanse us of ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS.” This confession is at times done with another brother or sister in Christ who will lift it up in prayer (James 5:16). Whether with another or with the Lord, you can be assured of forgiveness.
Okay, so let’s connect some dots here. If the Good News is only good the day we obeyed the gospel, how good is it? Joy, peace, and hope would be nothing but a fleeting thought. But when we grasp that the real essence of the Good News is for a lifetime, that it is as real today for me as it was over thirty years ago, than there is reason for joy, peace, and hope. True, I need to be real with the One who makes all this possible. That involves a desire to walk in His light. But it also means being honest about our battle with sin. Thus, we humbly and maybe sometimes embarrassingly, acknowledge our sins before God. And when we do, He will always fulfill His promise. Forgiveness.