What it Means to Be Forgiven

by Andy Wood on May 21, 2012

in Five LV Laws, Principle of Freedom

Many years ago, a little girl and her dad were walking through the grass on the Canadian prairie.  In the distance, they saw a prairie fire; eventually, they realized, it would engulf them.

The father knew there was only one way of escape. He quickly started a fire right where they were and burned a large patch of grass.

When the huge fire drew near, he took his little girl and stood on the section that had already been burned.  When the fire actually did approach them, the girl was terrified by the raging flames.  But her father assured her, “The flames can’t get to us.  We’re standing where the fire has already been!”

There is a fire that Christ-followers face that can seem as frightening.  What do you say to the person who has trusted Christ as his Savior, but faces the awesome “fire” of guilt and condemnation?  What do you tell the man or woman who is convinced that sooner or later God is going to get them back – that He is going to punish them for their failure?  The breathtaking truth of the gospel is that you and I are standing where the fire has already been.

In the book of Ephesians, Paul says over and over that we are “in Christ.”  There are many implications of this, but none more exciting than Ephesians 2:4-7:

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”

1 Peter 3:18 says, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.”

Is there punishment for sin?  Yes!

Are the wages of sin still death?  Yes!

Is God still holy?  Yes!

But the truth of the gospel is that all of God’s wrath for all sin fell upon His sinless Son on the cross.  And the death the Jesus died once satisfied the justice of God for all eternity.  Now, by virtue of your relationship with Him, you are standing where the wrath has already been.

That’s what it means to be forgiven.

One of the greatest of the ancient Greek poets was Aeschylus.  His brother had been convicted of a crime for which he would certainly face the death penalty.  The jury assembled and prepared to assess the ultimate penalty, when Aeschylus came before them.  This beloved poet was not only known for his writing, but for his service to Athens ‑ he had lost an arm when fighting with the Greek army in their victory over the Persians at Salamis.  As Aeschylus stood before the jury which was about to sentence his brother to death, he said nothing, but slowly pulled back his robe to reveal the place where his arm had once been.  Moved by his sacrifice for Greece, the jury voted to release his brother.

In the same way, Jesus’ wounds are the basis for our forgiveness.  As Isaiah 53:5 says, “with his stripes we are healed.”

“I, even I,” the Lord says, “am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” (Isaiah 43:25).

If He has forgotten them, don’t you think you can, too?

That’s what it means to be forgiven.

 

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