Many voices today are saying one thing or another about how to be made right with God. Many are trying to find this forgiveness, in many different ways. Among those looking for forgiveness, some try to be good. They do good deeds, become religious, go to church, or keep the commandments.
Others have tried to do all these things, but eventually give up, because there is no inner desire, no inner hunger, and no inner ability to do what is supposedly right.
Here we see two contrasting groups — those who do good, and keep the commandments, and those who do not. According to Scripture, which of these two groups of people are forgiven of their sins, and are justified (made righteous) in the eyes of God?
The answer may surprise many. According to the Bible, forgiveness of sins does not come by keeping the commandments, nor by being good, nor by becoming religious — No, nor by our good deeds, no matter how many or how good they might be! (See Isaiah 64:6; John 3:3; Romans 3:10; Titus 3:5).
According to the Bible standard, neither group in the above example become justified, nor made righteous in God's eyes, nor are their sins forgiven by doing good.
But why is this true? If we are not justified, made righteous by keeping God's commandments, then how do we become righteous? How do we receive forgiveness of our sins? To find the truth, we must see what the Bible tells us.
Who is a Sinner?First, we must understand that all have sinned — have been disobedient to God. I must understand that if I have ever committed even the least sin, then according to the Bible, I am a sinner; and because of that sin, I am condemned to death. We are all in this predicament, and no amount of good deeds can erase the sentence of death that is upon us all. We are all sinners, and we all need God's forgiveness.
What are my Sins?We all know we are sinners, but we may not understand what sin is. Some folk have committed murder, and others merely told a lie. Some have committed the worst crimes, and others have only coveted something belonging to another, or perhaps looked lustfully at another. According to the Bible, God's Instruction Book, sin is any disobedience of God's commandments as written in the Bible. And according to the Bible, the payment we must pay for our sin is death (1John 3:4; 1John 5:17; Ezekiel 18:20; Romans 6:23).
No matter what we have done, from the least of sinners to the worst, we are all under the same sentence of death. As a result, many sense they are carrying a heavy burden of sins that have not been forgiven. And so we will look next at what the Bible tells us about how we can be forgiven.
How Can I Be Forgiven?Many have heard that Yahushua (Jesus) has died for the sins of the world — and by His blood, everyone in the world is forgiven of their sins — their disobedience to God.
But many ask the questions, "What does this have to do with me?" and, "What about my sins? How are my sins forgiven?"
To answer these questions, let's look at what Yahushua (Jesus) said:
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)In these verses, we see two things. First, Yahushua (Jesus) is 'the' way, telling us that He is the only Way to God, the Father. We can not come to God on our own, nor by any other way, because our sins prevent us from entering God's presence (Isaiah 59:2). We must first have our sins removed, and this is what Yahushua (Jesus) does for us when we receive His forgiveness. It is worthy to note that no sin is 'too bad' or 'too numerous' to be forgiven. The Blood of Yahushua (Jesus) can remove them all!
In the next verse, Yahushua (Jesus) tells us that if we come to Him, He will take our heavy load of sins away from us, (no matter how many, how terrible, or how great the load of sins may be) and He will give us rest. When we receive Yahushua's forgiveness of our sins, we will finally be at peace with God — which gives us true rest that is far beyond our wildest dreams! (Philippians 4:7).
If I want God's forgiveness, I must first come to Him. I must approach Him personally, in prayer. I must then admit, "I am a sinner" (see Romans 3:23 below), for He tells me in His Word that sinners are separated from God (Isaiah 59:3). Sinners do not qualify for eternal life, nor will they be allowed into the Kingdom of Heaven — but instead must receive eternal death (Matt 18:3; John 3:5; Romans 6:23; Rev 22:14-15).
I would then cry out to God, telling Him the awful truth that none of us like to admit — that I need His salvation, His rescue, from my sins. I would tell Him that I need His forgiveness provided for me when Yahushua (Jesus) died on the tree, when He paid for my sins, as the following Scriptures tell us:
Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. (1Peter 2:24)
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission ["letting go; forgiveness"] of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; (Romans 3:23-25)
Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (Romans 5:9-10)
And almost all things are by the law purged (cleansed) with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission ["forgiveness"]. (Hebrews 9:22)
And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him (Jesus) that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, (Revelation 1:5)
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)If we look carefully at the above Scriptures, we see that we can become cleansed from sin, and justified, or made righteous, only by Yahushua's (Jesus') blood that He shed when He died, with the result that our sins are forgiven, and we are made right with God. Notice that this is made possible, because God loved us so much, and to such a great degree, that He gave His Son Yahushua (Jesus) to die in our place — on our behalf — so that we could live, and not die!
But how do I become cleansed from my sin, and made righteous, so that His forgiveness applies to me in a personal way? Notice this example in Scripture:
And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (Luke 18:13-14)We see in the above verse that the unrighteous publican was justified (made righteous) when he humbled himself, by 1) admitting he was a sinner, and 2) by crying out for God’s mercy.
If I humble myself, admitting to God that I am a sinner, and cry out for His mercy, God will also hear my prayer.
Receive His ForgivenessIf my prayer — my request for His mercy and forgiveness — is a sincere and honest request, then He will make His forgiveness personal for me. My sins will then be forgiven, and I too can become justified, made righteous in God's sight!
And so it is by His Blood that we are justified, made righteous, and forgiven of our sins — but it is when I humble myself, and cry out for His mercy, that His justification and forgiveness are applied to me personally.
I would first get down on my knees (humble myself), and cry out to God. It is important that we use our voice to speak out loud to God.
I would tell Him out loud, "I come to you in the name of Yahushua (Jesus)," and then tell Him, "I am a sinner. Thank You for dying in my place, and for spilling your Blood for me, and for forgiving me of my sins." I would then tell Him, "I receive your forgiveness for my sins, in the name of Yahushua (Jesus)."
After I have cried out to God in true sincerity, and have truly sought His forgiveness, then Messiah becomes 'birthed' within my inner being — and I now have a profound sense of the burden, the weight of sin and guilt, being lifted from me. The guilt is completely gone, for His Blood has cleansed me; and He now lives within me (John 3:3,7; Colossians 1:27; 1John 1:7; 1John 3:5).
The moment He becomes birthed within me, He makes me to be a "New Creation," whereby old things are passed away, and all things become new (2Corinthians 5:17). He wipes my record clean, and gives me a 'new start' in life.
A New BeginningAfter we receive God's forgiveness for our sins, we then begin a new adventure of reading His words in the Bible. In this way we find out what great things God has done for us, and we begin to understand how He wants to live His life in us, day-by-day.
Only after this personal encounter with Yahushua (Jesus) Messiah, only then does He tell me, "Go, and sin no more" (John 8:11). Only then am I able to begin a life of obedience to the Commandments, of being good, and of doing what is right.
Only after this personal encounter with Messiah am I able to repent — to turn, and go in a different direction in life. For only after Messiah is birthed within, do I have the new-found desire (and ability) to walk with Him, for He gives me the gift of His Grace — His desire, and His ability — to turn, and to do what is right (Philippians 1:11; Philippians 2:13).
Only after this personal encounter with Messiah, who shed His Blood on my behalf, are my sins forgiven (Psalms 50:5; Matt 26:28; Heb 9:22). And now what I have is not Religion — but a Relationship with our Heavenly Father. We recall the above verse:
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)Yahushua (Jesus) Messiah Himself is the Way to the Father. He is the gate or door — the Entrance — into the Kingdom of Heaven (John 10:7). We enter the Way through Messiah, by the forgiveness of our Sins.
Let us therefore cry out for His mercy — and make His forgiveness personal for ourselves!