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May 1999 | by Don Fortner

What would you give to know that all your sins are forgiven and forever forgotten by God? What would you give, if you could somehow wipe the slate clean, absolutely clean, and know that the holy Lord God will never charge you with, condemn you for, or in any way punish you because of your sins? Perhaps you are thinking, ‘I would give anything, I would do anything, if I could but be forgiven of all my sins forever’. I do not doubt that you would.

Forgiveness is free

But would you be willing to receive the blessed forgiveness of sin as a matter of free grace, as the gift of God, without you giving anything, doing anything, or in any way earning it? I hope so, because that is the only way you can ever be forgiven. How can we enjoy this blessed forgiveness? This is what God says in his Word. ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1:9).

John tells us that we must confess our sin. But our confession of sin, repentance and faith do not accomplish our forgiveness. That cannot be. The judicial ground of our forgiveness is the shed blood of Christ alone. But until a man confesses his sin, he cannot receive the forgiveness accomplished at Calvary.

Owning up

Our hearts must be reconciled to God and reconciliation is begun in confession. Our confession must be made in humble sincerity towards God, with faith in Christ’s atoning sacrifice. You cannot mention every offence, but you dare not deliberately hide even one.

Confess that you are vile by nature, wicked in practice and evil in heart. Lie down as low as you can at the footstool of mercy. ‘He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy’ (Proverbs 28:13).

Faithful and just

God’s forgiveness of such sinners as we are, is both faithful and just (1 John 1:9). God has promised to forgive repentant, believing sinners for Christ’s sake. And he is faithful to his Word. But he can only forgive us in a way consistent with his justice. In holy justice God slew his Son as our Substitute. With that one sacrifice, justice is fully satisfied. And now, upon the ground of the finished work of Christ, the justice of God pleads as strongly as his mercy for our forgiveness! Any one sin, of the slightest degree, is enough to exclude us for ever from the presence of God in heaven and to drag us down into hell. But if we are united to Christ by faith we have no sin before God! When David realised this glorious fact he exclaimed, ‘Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin!’ (Psalm 32:2).

Our forgiveness is complete! If we confess our sins, trusting the blood of Christ alone to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, God will never impute iniquity to us. This is blessed forgiveness indeed!

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