Receiving God’s Forgiveness

I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down’” (v. 10).

- Revelation 12:7-12

Today we are concluding our brief study of what Scripture has to say about guilt and forgiveness. We have spoken much about the objective reality of guilt before God and that the only solution to it is real forgiveness from Him. When we approach Him in the name of Christ, repent, and ask for forgiveness, the Bible promises that He will always forgive our sins (1 John 1:8–9). Our Creator never makes promises that He will not keep, and indeed He must keep this promise because His own Son has satisfied His wrath against His people (Rom. 3:21–26). If the Father were not to forgive us when we repent and trust in Jesus, He would be dishonoring the Son, essentially telling Him that the atonement He offered was not good enough. The Father will never do that, for He seeks to glorify His only begotten Son (John 8:54), and He will do nothing to detract from that glory.

Thus, when we repent and turn to Jesus, we are objectively forgiven. Our sin is covered with His perfect righteousness, and we do not stand condemned any longer. This objective reality, however, does not always mean that we feel forgiven subjectively. Often our guilt feelings do not go away even though we know—at least in our minds—that the problem of our objective guilt before the Lord has been solved in Christ. What, then, do we do if we have repented and yet do not feel forgiven by our Father in heaven?

The only solution is to keep turning back to what the Word of God teaches about the reality of our forgiveness in Christ. If the Lord says that we have been forgiven in Jesus our Savior, we have no right to question Him. In fact, it is a sin to doubt God’s promises, including His promise to forgive. So, if we do not feel forgiven, we may need to repent for not believing God’s sure pledge to pardon our sins when we confess them (1 John 1:8–9). Returning to the promises of the Lord will strengthen our faith and give us further confidence that we have been forgiven, giving our feelings solid reasons to line up with His truth.

Going back to the Word in order to receive God’s forgiveness and feel it subjectively also means understanding what Scripture says about Satan. The Bible tells us that the devil and his servants assault believers primarily through accusing us of our sins. They ever seek to convince us that God could not possibly forgive us. We need not let their words get through to our souls, for we have been forgiven in Christ, the same Christ who has cast down Satan in defeat and made His accusations groundless (Rev. 12:7–12).

Coram Deo

God the Holy Spirit does not accuse us; He convicts us and comforts us. That means that conviction by the Spirit will be followed by a sense of peace and cleanliness. If we have confessed our sins and still feel as if we have not been forgiven, it is likely that Satan and his demons are attempting to do their work of accusation in our lives. We must stand against them in such instances, reminding them of the surety of the Lord’s promises and thus our forgiveness in Jesus.

Passages for Further Study

Zechariah 3:1–5
James 4:7

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