Four Steps to Forgiveness

A Sunday School teacher had just concluded her lesson and wanted to make sure she had made her point. She said, “Can anyone tell me what you must do before you can obtain forgiveness of sin?” There was a short pause and then, from the back of the room, a small boy spoke up. “Sin,” he said. The young boy got the picture didn’t he? He knew that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, NIV). This means we each are in the same condition-sinners in need of forgiveness.

The good news about forgiveness is that Jesus wants His people to be forgiven of sin and has done everything possible to accomplish this-even death on the cross. “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you” (Acts 13:38, NIV). Therefore, “blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered” (Psalm 32:1, NIV).

We each can gain access by faith into grace which makes God’s forgiveness possible. When we believe, confess, repent, and are baptized we accept by faith the free gift of God’s grace and are saved. However, our lives can, and do, become entangled in sin again. What do we do in order to access the continual cleansing God can provide?

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal every sin. “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24, NIV).

Confess each sin specifically. “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13, NIV).

Make amends to others when necessary. “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24).

Accept God’s forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, NIV). God assures us in this exercise of grace that we will be continually cleansed through the daily living out of faith. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7, NIV).

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