Forgiveness. It is a powerful word, whether we are on the giving or receiving end of it. We Christians have been taught all our lives that Jesus forgives every sin, and that we must forgive our fellow man as well. Still, there seems to be a lot of confusion in many minds about how it all works. In this post, I would like to address Father’s forgiveness for us, and in coming posts, our forgiveness for others.
When Jesus cried his last words from the cross, “It is finished!” sin and its curse were from that moment forever cancelled. The problem for some of us, however, is that in our minds we do not yet understand that our forgiven sin truly is finished. Perhaps it is because we have not been successful in forgiving ourselves. Or, it could be that we have not received right teaching about how forgiveness really works.
Under the Covenant of the Law, sin was kept covered, or hidden, by the continual offering of animal sacrifices.
You have forgiven the iniquity of your people; you have covered all their sin. — Psalm 85:2
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. — Psalm 32:1
But merely covering sin was never God’s true plan for dealing with it. It was only a shadow-symbol of better things to come (Hebrews 10:1). Hebrews 10:11 tells us, “And every priest stands daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sin.”
When Jesus died for us, a new remedy for guilt took place. Sin was no longer covered, but was once and for all washed away.
But this man [Jesus], after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God …. For by one offering he has perfected forever those who are sanctified. — Hebrews 10:12, 14
And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood. — Revelation 1:5
How does the distinction between covered sin and washed sin make any difference to Christians today? There is a vast difference, and whether we latch onto this truth or not will affect how we view ourselves and others.
If we have the mentality of our sins being merely covered, we may still feel condemned over what we have done, even though we have sincerely asked God to forgive us. We think of our sins as still being there, but just hidden. And we like to keep taking a peek under the covering.
If, however, we get hold of the “washed” mentality, we realize our sin is erased, gone, nonexistent. There is no covering to peek under, and there is nothing to look at anymore. What a freedom this brings to how we view ourselves and our relationship with God!
God had the “washed plan” in mind for us all along, and He even talked about it in the Old Testament:
As far as the east is from the west, so far he removed our transgressions from us. — Psalm 103:12
None of their past sins will be brought up again …. — Ezekiel 33:16
For I will forgive their wickedness, and I will remember their sin no more. — Jeremiah 31:34
God wants His children to know in the deepest places of our hearts that once we repent of sin it is completely washed away by Jesus’ blood. It isn’t hiding under a cover anymore, waiting to be dredged up and used as a hammer over our heads. From the point of repentance onward, we can rest assured that it is finished as far as He is concerned. Any guilt we feel from that point on is not coming from Him and need not be entertained.
To better understand the difference between Old Covenant covered sin and New Covenant washing away of sin, study Hebrews 9:11 – 10:18.