Grace Family Bible Church
How are we Forgiven Today?
By: Scott Morton
Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:  Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:  In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
In our last article, we looked at how forgiveness was given to Israel in Time Past. The problem so many people have is they do not understand right division and try to make all of the promises of the Bible apply to them. They do not realize there are some basic differences in the Bible:
Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers:
That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.
These two verses show a major difference between what the Lord Jesus Christ did and what the Apostle Paul is doing. The Lord Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision, meaning He was ministering to Israel. We see this by His statements of go only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 10:6) and salvation is of the Jews (John 4:22). It does not get any clearer than this on which He went to. He also told them they still had to keep the law (Matthew 19:16-26) and spoke many times about prophecy being fulfilled. These things all point to Him confirming what was given to Israel and continuing their program.
This is not what we see with the Apostle Paul. He is not identified as being part of this. He is identified as a chosen vessel (Acts 9:16) and we see the differences with what has been given to him. The following are a few verses to show this:
But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:  But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;  (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)  And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.
But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.  For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ
For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,  If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:
For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:
These passages clearly show the relationship Paul had with the Gentiles. He was the one who was given information directly by the Lord Jesus Christ related to how we get saved (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). This is not something we can find anywhere else in Scripture, which is why Paul calls it my gospel (Romans 16:25-26),
This distinction needs to be understood in order to see what doctrine applies to us. This is how we know what the Bible is telling us related to every topic, including the issue of forgiveness. There are things which appear to be contradictory if we try to apply all of the things to ourselves. It is only by rightly dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15) that we get the knowledge of how to understand what is written directly to us in order to be pleasing to God.
The struggle individuals have is the issue today of trying to feel we can do enough good works to be pleasing to God and earn the forgiveness. Paul makes some things clear to us about this:
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:  There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.  They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.  Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:  Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:  Their feet are swift to shed blood:  Destruction and misery are in their ways:  And the way of peace have they not known:  There is no fear of God before their eyes.  Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
The Apostle Paul is discussing here the condition of man before salvation. Everyone is considered guilty in the eyes of God, as none are considered righteous. The righteousness of man is filthy rags in the eyes of God (Isaiah 64:6) because we could not do anything good enough to take care of this on our own.
Individuals will say this is before salvation and that it is possible to do this once we are saved. Paul addresses this as well:
For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.  If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.  Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.  For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Some would say this is Paul speaking about himself prior to salvation. This is said because they don't like to think about the possibility of this even being the case. However, this is the reality of what is going on for the believer. There is something which is in the flesh which has the desire to do the things which are contrary to God. This is what Paul refers to as the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).
This is why there is something which has been done for us the moment we put our trust in the gospel message for today (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Paul explains what we have received:
2 Corinthians 5:16-21
Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.  Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.  And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;  To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.  Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.  For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
We received His righteousness the moment we believed. It has nothing to do with works, as it is His faith which guarantees this (Romans 4:1-5). Since we have His righteousness, we know there is nothing which can be done to take away from this. We have the guarantee which comes with the sealing ministry of the Spirit, which keeps us in the Body of Christ until the Day of Christ (Ephesians 1:13-14).
This shows how we have the righteousness which has come without the law. Paul makes it very clear that this is the case:
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
These verses could not make it any clearer. The law has nothing to do with a member of the Body of Christ. Because of this, we know the issue of sin has been taken care of for us. We cannot break the law, since it does not apply to us, meaning we cannot commit the sin which would separate us from God. This is why the issue of sin is labeled as being in the past in Romans 3:25.
Paul states forgiveness is given to us through His blood. Many individuals wonder why blood is the issue and how blood could even come close to taking care of the issue of sin. This issue is being clouded by many who identify themselves as Christian. They feel the word blood is scary and offensive to individuals. They are then looking to remove any reference to it when they are dealing with this issue, or any other. Modern versions of the Bible will often remove the word blood from the text we have been looking at. Hymns which have a reference to the word blood are often removed from hymnals or just never sung.
The word blood is very important when we are talking about the issue of the forgiveness of sins:
And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
The issue of blood is vital when talking about the sin issue. Blood is the only thing which can take away sin. There is nothing else which can deal with it. We can see this back in the book of Genesis with Adam:
Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?  And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:  But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.  And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:  For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.  And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.  And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
When sin was introduced we see man's attempt at covering things up. This is where the sewed aprons to cover themselves. Later on in the chapter we see how God takes care of it. He kills an animal (blood) and makes clothes from them from the skins of the animal. It is the blood which is the issue. They needed this to cover them. This is why you see the sacrifices under the law, as life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11). These sacrifices needed to be done in order to cover them every time they transgressed the law.
The Apostle Paul makes it clear for the Body of Christ what our relationship with the law is during this dispensation:
And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;  Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
The law has been taken out of the way. Because this is no longer there for us, we do not have to worry about transgressing the law. This is why we are said to already have forgiveness as a present possession.
Many people have the problem of thinking they still need to look for forgiveness, as they think they are still functioning in a performance-based system. Individuals think they need to apply 1 John 1:9 to themselves and continue to ask for forgiveness. An individual does not need to ask for forgiveness if they already have it. This is what Paul tries to make so clear for us:
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:  Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
This is the identity we have. We are seen as being in Christ, identified with His death, burial, and resurrection. This is why we have His righteousness and the position which we have. This is said to us after Paul had laid out the things which show why sin has no power over us:
Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.
(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
These verses show the reality of the power of sin in the life of a believer. This is the sin which is the transgression of the law, which would separate an individual from God. The Lord Jesus Christ took the law out of the way at the cross, as it was nailed to the cross with Him (Galatians 3:13). Since there is no law, there can be no transgression of it, as you cannot break something that does not exist. This also means this cannot be placed onto our account (imputed), as there is no law. The end result being there is no death, the separation from God.
This is a reality that should be very liberating for individuals. The unfortunate thing for many is they don't understand this reality. They still try to put themselves under a performance based system, thinking this is how they are going to be pleasing unto God. Our performance is never the issue, as the only one who could have performed 100% is the Lord Jesus Christ. This is why it is His faith which is the issue (Romans 4:5) and the issue of sin has already been taken care of (Romans 3:25). The Apostle Paul is the only one who could teach this, as individuals under any other dispensation were under the law. This is why Paul can say this to us:
1 Corinthians 15:54-57
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?  The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
We have a victory over the law, sin, and death. It truly is amazing to realize this is the case.
The question does come up of what happens when we do make mistakes, as we are going to do things contrary to the doctrine in Romans through Philemon. Paul identifies what this means, as the definition of sin is changed to whatsoever is not of faith (Romans 14:23). He tells us the problem we do have:
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.  For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
Paul tells us we cannot walk in the flesh. Our identity cannot be there because there is only condemnation to the things of the flesh (Romans 8:1, 4). The things contrary to the doctrine are now considered to be the lust of the flesh. This is what the sin issue is now. These are the things which impact the rewards we have at the Judgment Seat of Christ, as they would build wood, hay, and stubble (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). People want to turn this into something it isn't. We already have the forgiveness and need to function in the way God has intended for us to.
The struggle is that individuals do fulfill the lust of the flesh at times. They will do the things which are contrary to the faith. There are many reasons for this, but Paul makes it clear that we need to be careful. We see what he says to the assembly in Galatia about this:
Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.  Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.  But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?  Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.  I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.
These saints had the truth taught to them of where they stood. Instead of following the doctrine which had been given to them they turned back onto the things of the law. These are the things the Apostle Paul had identified as being a shadow (Colossians 2:16-17). They were not standing for this truth and Paul identified he became afraid of them.
The example he uses is of observing days. This is something individuals try to do, whether it is using the feast days laid out in the Bible or creating holy days of their own to observe. In this dispensation, all days are considered to be the same. We don't have to worry about creating these types of days and should not be trying to do this in our life. We have a liberty (Galatians 5:1) which we should observe.
In closing, Paul tells us how we should be dealing with others:
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
This could never have been said to Israel. They had a conditional forgiveness based on their performance. Since we are already forgiven, we should demonstrate this toward others as we deal with people in our lives.