I heard a great song this weekend on the radio. It is "I'm Forgiven" by Sanctus Real. The words hit home with me with areas of my life that Christ has forgiven me from. Christ has forgiven me from sin. Why is that important to me? Because sin - my sin - keeps me from Him. Forgiveness gives me access back to God. Without it, I'm eternally separated from God. Jesus atoning work of the crucifixion gives me access to the Father. Jesus was my substitute and redemption.
2 Corinthians 5:13-21 explodes with this truth of forgiveness. "If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
I'm forgiven to help others yes. But I'm forgiven to get back to God. When and only when I do that can I partake in the ministry of reconciliation. Only then can I, once back and restored to God, help others experience Him. The appeal God is making through us is a restored relationship to Him. We become His righteousness - His bride and love - all because of Christ's work on the cross.
If I am happy about forgiveness just because I won't have something in my past, I miss the true meaning of what forgiveness is for. If I just want forgiveness to pursue my ministry goals and future, then I've missed the meaning of forgiveness. Truth is, sin will always be in my past. It will always haunt me - unless it is seen through the redemptive, sacrificial work of Christ's death and glorious resurrection. A relationship with God through Jesus is the goal.
As John Piper said, "Forgiveness is essentially God's way of removing the great obstacle to our fellowship with him." God canceled our sin by paying for it with the blood of His Son Jesus. Because of this, we can see him, know him and enjoy him. Fellowship that has been restored to the Father through the Son is the goal, hope and purpose of forgiveness. Our souls must be (and can only be )satisfied in him. True worship and intimacy with God is the reason for forgiveness. There is no other reason.
Jesus said we are to "Forgive one another, as God in Christ forgave you." How can I do that? Why did God forgive? To restore relationship with His people. We should forgive to restore our relationship with God and our relationship with others.
Think about these words of the song by Sanctus Real:
Well the past is playing with my head
And failure knocks me down again
I'm reminded of the wrong
That I have said and done
And that devil just wont let me forget
Ever been there? The devil just won't let you forget! People too, sometimes. Where do you turn in times like this - to a relationship with God. We can't love the gift of forgiveness, we must love the giver of it - God. What a move on His part to bring us back - to reconcile us to Him. Check mate to the devil.
It goes on to say:
In this life
I know what I've been
But here in your arms
I know what I am
And I don't have to carry
The weight of who I've been
Cause I'm forgiven
Romans 8:1 says "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death."
Where do I find freedom and forgiveness - in the law of the Spirit of LIFE IN Christ Jesus. A relationship with Him. If we are IN Christ, there is no shame, guilt or condemnation.
The song goes on to say:
My mistakes are running through my mind
And I'll relive my days, in the middle of the night
And I struggle with my pain, wrestle with my pride
Sometimes I feel alone, and I cry
When I don’t fit in and I don’t feel like I belong anywhere
When I don’t measure up to much in this life
Oh, I’m a treasure in the arms of Christ
We are His treasure - His prize. His longing - His desire. His creation - His bride. His body - His children. We are treasured by Him. He couldn't stand that there was sin between us and Him. He took the initiative to fix it. Jesus didn't convince God to send Him. God sent His Son willingly. The Son willingly came. What a great act of love! The ultimate cost to God is that He gave up His Son to buy back His Sons and Daughters. He did this to give you and I what we desperately needed above all things: we need a relationship of enjoying a life of Christ. God's forgiveness is important. Why? We get God.
Yes, we get more opportunities for serving. Yes, we get a second chance - maybe third or fourth. Yes, we get blessings and a guiltless conscience. Yes, we can minister to others who have been through similar sins. But don't miss the reason for forgiveness - God brought us back to Himself. Marriage to God is the goal of forgiveness. Anything else that comes before that is selfishness on our part. Sure God wants to bless us, restore us. God did it for us. That was selfless. If we want forgiveness because of our reasons, then that is selfish. We must want forgiveness because it brings us back to intimacy with God. I get to be one with Him. Unity. Intimacy. This is the primary purpose of forgiveness. I'm forgiven because of Him calling, reaching, pulling, and moving toward us. He displayed forgiveness all because we pulled, reached and moved away from Him. He did it! Thank you God for desiring us when we didn't desire you. While we were yet sinners, you sent your Son to die for us! In this light of your forgiving nature, I better understand your great love and desire for us. We get you through forgiveness. You are all I want.