Forgiveness is of such importance to each of us that we must realize that the basis for our forgiveness is the Cross of Jesus Christ. We can be forgiven only on the basis of what Jesus did on our behalf. Before Jesus suffered and died on the Cross, Isaiah the prophet gave us a picture of what He was to do and why He was to do it. In Isaiah 53 Isaiah describes the suffering death of our Lord Jesus Christ.
" Surely He has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." Isaiah 53:4-6
That is the basis of God's forgiveness. It does not compromise His justice. The justice of God was fully and finally satisfied because Jesus became our substitute and took our iniquity, our rebelliousness, and our guilt. Isaiah and Paul both emphasize that none are excluded from the need of forgiveness. [Romans 3:23]
It may not be some atrocious crime of murder or rape that each of us is quilty of, but Isaiah says that we have all gone astray. We have all turned to our own way. We have been rebellious. We have been self-pleasers. We have lived by our own standards. We have robbed God of His glory. This is all summed up in one strong word of scripture, iniquity.
But thanks be to God, the Lord laid on Jesus the iniquity of us all. The Hebrew word that is translated " laid on Him" is a vivid word. It means " made to meet together on Him". All of the sins, all the burdens of men, all the guilt, of all ages, of all races, past, present, and future, came and met together upon the person of the Lord Jesus Christ as He hung on the Cross.
Jesus did not die for His own sin. He never sinned. Jesus was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him.
Please take note how closely linked healing and forgiveness are. Many times people are seeking healing, when what they really need is forgiveness before they can be healed. It is also true that, at times God does heal people who are not forgiven as yet. We also see that the consequence of forgiveness is peace. Because Jesus was punished on the Cross for our sin, God offers us peace and reconciliation. On the Cross, Jesus was our substitute.
We cannot earn our forgiveness. Period..
In Romans, chapter 4, Paul bases his teaching on the experience of Abraham. Paul points out that Abraham did not earn his relationship with God. Abraham was justified because he believed, not because of what he did. Read Romans 4:1-5
If we lead perfectly good lives then we would have received the reward of righteousness as a due. But Paul says because none of us has led perfect lives, we cannot claim it as a due. We have to receive it out of God's graciousness as a free gift to us. Paul then goes on to quote the words of David in Psalm 32. He talks about "blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputes not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile." [verses 1-2] When we receive Christ and what He did for us at Calvary; our sins will never be counted against us...
Paul continues by telling us in Romans Chapter 4:20-25 that it is Christ who was raised to life for our justification. As we put our faith in what Jesus did for us at Calvary this becomes a reality for us. We are justified through faith in the death of Jesus on our behalf. When all our sins are forgiven us because of our faith in Jesus, we are reckoned righteous with the very righteousness of Jesus Himself.
When God forgives us through our faith in Christ, He does not partially forgive us. God totally forgives us. Lets look at Micah 7:18-19. "Who is a God like unto you, who pardons iniquity, and passes by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retains not His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will turn again, He will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities; and you will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea."
Isn't that so beautiful? Everything that we have ever done wrong-- everything that could ever make us feel guilty, every accusation that the enemy could ever bring against us-- God treads them under foot and then hurls them into the depths of the sea. If God has forgiven you then you are forgiven.
God's forgiveness is total. In Isaiah 43:25 God speaks to His people: "I, even I, am He Who blots out your transgressions for My Own sake, and will not remember your sins."
When God forgives us, He gives us a clean record. It is as though what has been forgiven had never taken place.Not only does God blot out the record, but He blots it out from His own memory. He says that He will not remember our sins any more.
When God forgives, He forgets... All because of Calvary...