Your relationship with God is secure because, through Christ, you are forgiven and accepted by God. However, God also desires for you to walk closely with Him and communicate with Him throughout each day.
When we choose to sin, our relationship (our position as God’s children) is not affected, but our fellowship with Him is interrupted. Sin keeps us all from experiencing God’s love. Sin is more than cheating, lying, immoral behavior, etc. These actions are only the results of an attitude of sin. A simple definition of sin is: doing what we want instead of what God wants — both in actions and attitudes.
All of us, therefore, need to experience God’s forgiveness for our attitudes and actions.
1. The basis for God’s love and forgiveness.
“For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18)
Christ’s death is the basis for forgiveness to bring us into a proper relationship with God. His death is also the basis for forgiveness in our daily fellowship with God. Read the following passage:
“You were dead in sin and your sinful desires were not yet cut away. Then He gave you a share in the very life of Christ, for He forgave all your sin, and blotted out the charges proved against you, the list of His commandments which you had not obeyed. He took this list of sin and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross.” (Colossians 2:13,14, Living Bible).
In the day when this was written, “list of sins” meant an itemized bond nailed to the prison door. It listed every crime for which the prisoner had been convicted. When the sentence was served or restitution paid, authorities removed the list and wrote, “paid in full.” The prisoner used this as proof that he could never be tried for those crimes again. The believer who trusts Christ’s payment for sin can never be tried again. His sins have been “paid in full.” He has full pardon from God.
“He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:10-12)
a) What has God done with your sins according to the verse above?
b) For how many of your sins did Christ die?
c) When Christ died on the cross for you, how many of your sins were in the future?
d) What difference will it make in your daily life to know that you are totally forgiven?
2. You can experience God’s love and forgiveness every day.
Even though you are totally forgiven, you still need to deal with your sins on a day-to-day basis in order to experience continuing fellowship with God.
First John 1:9 says,
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Confession — agreeing with God about sin
When God brings to your attention that something you have done is sin, confess it. This confession involves at least three factors:
1. Agree with God that you have sinned.
2. Thank God that He has already forgiven you.
3. Trust God to change your wrong attitude and actions.
By turning back to God and away from your sin (repentance), you will experience His love and forgiveness provided by Christ’s death on the cross. Instead of feeling guilty or condemned, you can know that your fellowship with God is restored.
Confession — putting it into practice
Right now or tonight before you go to bed:
1. Ask God to reveal any sins in your life.
2. List these on a piece of paper. Be completely honest; this is just between you and God.
3. After completing your list, write over it the promise of 1 John 1:9 (written above).
4. Thank God for the forgiveness He has provided for you through what Christ did on the cross.
5. Tear up the list and throw it away.
a) How often do you need to confess a sin to God?
b) When should you confess a sin?
Confession — experiencing the result
“Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’ — and You forgave the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32:5)
“….as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12)
c) What should you do if you still feel guilty after you have confessed your sin?
d) What do these passages say about guilt and cleansing?
e) In light of what we have looked at concerning guilt and forgiveness, how
would you complete this statement?
When I have confessed all my sins, I…
Summary: Understanding God’s great love and forgiveness, allows Christians to enjoy a growing fellowship with Him.
Suggestions for Further Growth
Take some time now or before you go to bed tonight to apply the things you have learned about God’s love and forgiveness. Make your confession list; then destroy it.
Try to spend 15 minutes or so each day alone with God in Bible reading and prayer. Here are some suggestions:
1. Read the story of the young man who ran away from his father and wasted his inheritance. The story was told by Jesus and is found in Luke 15:11-32. What does the story illustrate about our relationship with God, our forgiveness, and our fellowship with Him?
2. Read Galatians 5:16-23. Notice the differences that will take place as you allow God to work in your life. As you become aware of an area of your life that displeases God, deal with it according to 1 John 1:9 and then enjoy your fellowship with God.
Key Question: How can a Christian experience the power God has made available to live the Christian life? Lesson 3 explains how you can draw upon God’s power source, the Holy Spirit, to live a meaningful Christian life.
Answers: 1a) God has forgiven them. 1b) All. 1c) All. 2a) Once. 2b) As soon as you realize it is sin. 2c) Count on God’s Word, the Bible, that you are forgiven and don’t rely on your feelings. 2d) If anything is not confessed, there is reason for guilt to remain.