The Bible uses several words to describe forgiveness, such as: remission, cleansing, justification, pardon, blotting out, healing, freedom and reconciliation. When God forgives, He removes the record of our sin from His book (Acts 3:19) and no longer holds the sin in His memory (Heb 8:12). No one else forgives like God. This kind of forgiveness is difficult for us to comprehend.
One man said, “I have too much sin, spread over too many years. There is no way God will forgive me.” The Bible can teach us the tremendous power of God’s forgiveness. Ephesians 3:18 teaches, [Oh, that we might] “be able to comprehend ... what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that we might be filled with all the fullness of God. Who is able to do exceeding, abundantly, above all that we ask or think.” Is there any sin too bad? Listen to Isaiah 1:18, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow ...” Scarlet was achieved by dipping a cloth in the dye twice to totally saturate it. We can be totally saturated with sin and still be forgiven if we wholeheartedly and humbly obey our Heavenly Father. This is the attitude of the psalmist who wrote, “Wash me completely from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin (Psalm 51:2).
Is there something we must do to be forgiven? The Bible says “yes.” In Acts 2:37 the people in Jerusalem said to Peter, “What shall we do?” In Acts 9:6 Saul asked, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” In Acts 16:30 the jailor said to Paul, “What must I do to be saved?” Obviously, there is something that must be done to gain salvation. I challenge you to read your Bible and thoroughly study what happened on these three occasions.
When God forgives us, we ought to forgive ourselves. When we don’t it is like trying to pay a canceled debt. In 2nd Samuel 11 we read about the terrible sins of David (including murder) but after God forgave him, he forgave himself and enjoyed a good relationship with God as evidenced by his writing the 23rd Psalm.
A father told his son, “When you sin, drive a nail into that fencepost, and when you are forgiven, pull the nail out.” One day the father noticed the boy was distraught and asked, “Why so sad. There were no nails in the fencepost!” The boy replied, “The nails are gone, but the holes they made are still there.” Sometimes it is difficult to forget our forgiven sins. But the Bible reminds us that God can remove our sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). Micah 7:19 teaches that God throws our forgiven sins in the depths of the sea. Although God has forgiven us, and we have forgiven ourselves, we still may have to face the earthly consequences of sin. For example: A convicted criminal still must serve his time in jail, even though he has been forgiven by God.
Why would anyone want to live with the burden of sin? We have learned that no sin is too big and that God is eager to forgive. Nehemiah 9:17 teaches that God stands ready and willing to pardon us. In the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15) we find a great example of how God forgives His erring child. When the son was a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. The prodigal son said in humility, “Father, I have sinned against Heaven and in thy sight, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” Today our Heavenly Father is watching for his erring children to return home. God wants us to be forgiven, and allowed the price of forgiveness to be paid by the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son.