Clean and Forgiven

Our experience of forgiveness matters. The one who experiences great forgiveness, shows great love. Our experience of forgiveness affects our love for Jesus!

I suggest that when we still feel dirty, when we fail to live forgiven, it is because—despite our ability to speak the correct words about forgiveness—we don’t really believe what God says about forgiveness! As I typed that I was reminded of a statement Donald Miller shares in Blue Like Jazz: “We don’t believe what we say we believe, we believe what we do.” As to forgiveness, to say we believe God forgives, yet to still feel dirty or unclean after acknowledging our sin to Him, often expressing a new determination to do something to “make up for” our “falling short” or “prove” to God we are serious (“this time”) about changing, betrays what we really believe. We don’t believe what we say we believe, we believe what we do. God’s forgiveness is granted freely, although it cost Him supremely. We understand something of the high value of full and complete forgiveness, and our actions betray us as not really believing God has given full and complete forgiveness!

I’m speaking here particularly to those who consider themselves followers of Jesus. Most of you will be familiar with the words of I John 1:9:

If we confess (acknowledge) our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to (continually) cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Yet, how often do you acknowledge (confess) your sin and simply thank Him (express gratitude) for cleansing? Particularly as to that sin which, for you, seems to snare you again and again and again—do you really accept His full cleansing (from all unrighteousness, not just the particular sin acknowledged), or do you find yourself groveling, promising to try harder, maybe even not feeling “clean” until you have actually acted on your promise? I’m not trying to diminish the idea that there are times Papa tells us to do something specific as a result of our sins, I’m talking about our experience of forgiveness on God’s terms (“confess”). Papa may call on those who are clean to act, but that is a universe away from our own effort to get clean by doing! Have you ever imagined that when you go to Papa with “I did it again!”, He responds (honestly) with “Did what again?”

Several years ago I heard something which was shocking at first, but which Papa has used to alter how I react to my own puny promises to try harder, or my sense of continuing guilt even after confession: All such things are ways our flesh says, “Jesus, your death wasn’t enough!”

After I got over the shocking audacity of this truth about my fleshy thinking, the Spirit began renewing my mind and transforming my response amid confession. Some of my thoughts were given expression through some “revised lyrics” Papa gave (to the tune White as Snow)—

Freed from Sin, Freed from Sin,
Though the thought overwhelms me,
You have said. It is so!
I am clean and forgiven!
Praise the Father, what great love;
Praise the Son, now raised above;
Worship Him all here below, yes worship Him,
Bow down low.

White as snow, white as snow,
Though I often forget it,
I confess, You restore, and continually cleanse me!
Praise the Father, what great love;
Praise the Son, now raised above;
Worship Him here below, yes worship Him,
Bow down low.

What value do you place on the death of Jesus? Is His death fully sufficient to totally remove God’s wrath and bring blessing (“propitiation”)? Is God fully satisfied that the penalty for your sinfulness and sinful acts (all of them) has been “paid in full” by Jesus? Really? And how about you? Are you fully satisfied that the penalty for your sinfulness and sinful acts (all of them) has been “paid in full” by Jesus—or does your response after confession betray an attitude toward Jesus that says, “Your death may have satisfied God in Heaven, but it’s not good enough to satisfy me! Let me add to Your work by . . ..” Even as to such an arrogant attitude, Jesus continues to show His wounds to Papa and say, “Abba (Papa), forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing!” And Papa, Who always hears The Son, has forgiven you. Really! I pray that His Spirit will make His full and complete forgiveness real in your experience.

Live as one who has been blessed, because you are.

John