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Acts 13:38 declares, "Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you." What is forgiveness and why do I need it? The word "forgive" means...
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After reading Michaels comments above and applying faith to what you have read and believe is when you will begin to understand forgiveness. It can only be obtained by faith. You must believe that Jesus is the only sacifice that can take away the eternal consequence of sin. God forgave the world after Jesus was raised from the dead, when He completed the process. Once the process was complete then all of mankind has been forgiven of their sin. As God by the Holy Spirit moves on your heart He will give you the faith to receive what He has done for you. This is what Jesus said and if you cannot believe then ask for help; Mark 9:23-24 3 Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. 24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. KJV When we have a struggle in life with believing what God has said we can do just what this man did, we can ask God to help us with our unbelief. The bible says God gives every man a measure of faith, so we can ask for the faith to help us believe. Reading your bible will help, it will bring faith, Romans 10:17 Stop focusing on your sin if your are doing so. If you are a born again Christian then you are the righteousness of God in Christ and His righteousness remains forever. Focus on your right standing with God and not on sin, this will help a lot as well. Be blessed more and keep on keeping on. :)
It is important to understand the difference between forgiveness and salvation. These occur at two different points in time and have different meanings. All of our sins were forgiven when Jesus Christ died on the cross (Col 2:13, 2 Cor 5:19) for those of us living during God's dispensation of grace (Eph 3:2). This event happened whether someone believes it or not. Salvation occurs after hearing the gospel and at the moment of belief in it (Eph 1:13), the finished cross work of Jesus Christ (Rom 4:24-25), and nothing of ourselves (Eph 2:8). Salvation is a gift from God made possible by His grace (Rom 5:18), and our belief is acceptance of His free gift (Eph 2:8). Asking for forgiveness of sins would indicate that someone lacks faith and understanding in what Jesus Christ has already done on their behalf (1 Cor 15:3, Gal 2:20). The death of Christ was sufficient to God for the forgiveness of our sins (2 Cor 5:21, Rom 6:22). If there's something we're doing ourselves (in the flesh) with the belief that it is to obtain or to maintain our salvation, then boasting becomes an issue (Eph 2:8-2:9). Look at it this way, if you're asking for forgiveness, who's doing the asking? That's right, you are, and you can't save yourself. Therefore faith in what Christ did is the only thing that saves today. Asking for forgiveness and confession was a requirement under the law at one time and for a different people, but we are no longer under the law, we're under God's grace (Rom 6:14). Praise God! You'll find doctrine for how we are to live today in the 13 epistles of Paul, Romans through Philemon (Rom 3:21). The sin barrier between God and man was removed by the death of Jesus Christ (Rom 6:22, 2 Cor 5:21). God can now work through us once we've removed ourselves from His path (Col 2:14, Philippians 1:6). We can now focus on what we can do for Him once we stop focusing on ourselves and our iniquities (Rom 7:22-25). Our apostle Paul received the revelation of the mystery from Christ resurrected, which was kept secret until revealed to Paul (Rom 16:25). Had the mystery been known prior to Paul, the princes of this world would not have crucified Christ (1 Cor 2:8). This message differs from that of the 12 apostles to biblical Israel (James 1:1), who did have to do works to prove their faith in 'times past' (Rom 11:6, James 2:24). We who are living in the current dispensation of the grace of God (Eph 3:2) are to simply have faith in Christ (Rom 3:28). Works for salvation actually put us in debt with God as this shows lack of faith (Rom 4:4). Basically, we don't work in order to be saved, we work because we are saved (Eph 2:10, Eph 4:12). It is of utmost importance to rightly divide the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15), the gospel of our salvation (Eph 1:13) that was given to Paul, from the gospel given to biblical Israel, when studying the bible. Jesus and the 12 apostles were for the lost sheep of the house of Israel, which was not you or I (Mat 10:5-6, Mat 15:24). During this dispensation of grace that we live in today there is no difference in Jew nor Greek (Gal 3:28). Believers today are members of the church the body of Christ (Col 1:24). God now sees Christ in us and not who we see when we look in the mirror! When you’re a passenger in the back seat of a vehicle, you have faith that the driver will safely get you to your destination. Jesus Christ is our ‘spiritual vehicle’ (Rom 5:10, Rom 8:32), and our spiritual 'seat belt' is the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30), that secures our souls from damnation until the day of redemption (Eph 1:13)! Praise God for the fact that we can't drive ourselves there, and we can't unfasten our seal, even though our sinful carnal bodies may attempt both during our walk in faith. We ourselves are simply not righteous enough for God on our own merits (Titus 3:5), but the good news is that our belief in what Jesus Christ did on our behalf makes us the righteousness of God (1 Cor 1:30, 2 Cor 5:21). Amen!
Ask for forgiveness, and then accept that it has been offered! Simple really: don't ask, don't get! It works across all aspects of life. If you don't ask if you can have a job, why would anyone offer you one?
To make it simple, you asked how to receive forgiveness of sins. The Scriptures gives us two answers to that- 1. I John 1 says that “if we confess our sins He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. So, we confess, admit it that we did it. But, it doesn’t say anything beyond confessing and how to do that. Fortunately Christ gives us specifics on this in the gospels 2. Seek forgiveness from the Apostles. In John 20 we see Jesus appearing to the disciples in the upper room after His resurrection. He gave them His authority on Earth since He was returning to Heaven soon. In verse 23 He says to them, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven, and whose sins you retain are retained”. He gave the apostles His authority to forgive or withhold forgiveness of sins. Obviously they cannot do this if they don’t know what the sin is. So, in conjunction with I John, we confess our sins to the Apostles (their successors since the original apostles are dead), and God, through them, forgives us. As you look into history you will discover that Christians always believed and taught forgiveness through the authority of the apostles, until Luther, who was not given the authority to do so, removed that requirement. Therefore, that requirement still stands.
What about the sins we have committed today? Are they already forgiven? Or do we need to ask for forgiveness every day? If so, why? The other answers have done an excellent job of explaining how our sins are forgiven through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ who paid the penalty we deserved, and how we receive that forgiveness the moment we put our faith in Jesus as our personal Saviour and Lord. But we all know that we continue to sin every day. Do we need to deal with these sins in our lives? I believe the bible is clear that we do. 1John 1:9 says: If we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. This is a daily process. We confess our sins and God removes the barrier from our relationship with him. Our intimate fellowship with him is restored. The bible says if we hide sin in our hearts God will not listen to our prayers, our relationship will be strained. When we confess our sins, God cleanses us from all unrighteousness. That means that God is sanctifying us, removing the sinful desires of our flesh and imparting the desires to be holy and righteous in his sight, to live a life that is pleasing to God. We will never become “sinless” but over time we will definitely “sin-less”. This spiritual transformation changes the way we think, speak and act, affecting every aspect of our lives. God uses this transformation to train and equip us to complete all the good works he has prepared for each of us, so we will fulfill all his good purposes for our lives, to further his kingdom, and bring him all the glory and honour due for saving us. We all need this daily forgiveness so we can have the closest possible relationship with God our Father. This is how we will enjoy the abundantly fulfilling and deeply satisfying life that Jesus promised.
Our sin debt was paid in full at the cross. Romans 4:7-8. Blessed is the man whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. Colossians 2:13. He has forgiven us all trespasses. John 3:18. We can no longer be condemned. Romans 3:26-28: For He is the just and the justifier of them that BELIEVE in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded.
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