For many Christians, they spend their days and nights asking God to forgive them for sins, fearing that somehow there are sins that God has not forgiven. Yet, is asking God to forgive us for sins something that he expects us to do? Could it possibly be that God doesn't want us to ask him for forgiveness, but rather longs for us to accept his forgiveness by faith? The answers to these questions are found in Scripture.
There are two covenants in the Bible we must familiarize ourselves with, the old covenant of law and the new covenant of grace. Under the law, everything was conditional. The old covenant was an if-then covenant, meaning that if those who were under the law obeyed, then he would bless them, and if they disobeyed, they were cursed. Now God's heart was not to curse them but to bless them; yet, they never obeyed God. So the people living under the old covenant of law lived under the curses of God rather than the blessings of God.
God provided for the forgiveness of these people by having innocent animals sacrificed for their sins. Yet, these sacrifices had to be made over and over again...day after day after day...year after year after year. There was never any finality to their forgiveness under law. Forgiveness was perpetual, meaning on-going forgiveness.
The Bible says that the law is a shadow of Jesus, the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. You see, the blood of animals covered the sins of people living under the law for a short time. Yet, Jesus, under the new covenant of grace, takes away the penalty for sin for all time. This is the new covenant of grace ushered in through the blood of Jesus (Matthew 26:28; Luke 22:20; Hebrews 9:15-27).
The book of Hebrews tell us that at one time, by one sacrifice, for all sin, and for all people Jesus shed his blood for the forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 7:27; 10:10, 12). As a result, according to the book of Hebrews, God remembers our sins no more, and where our sins have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sins (Hebrews 8:12; 10, 17-18).
What the Bible teaches, following the death of Jesus, is that God is not in the forgiving business anymore. God is not waiting for anyone to ask him to forgiven them. That is life under the old covenant. The new covenant is superior to the old covenant (Hebrews 7:22; 2 Corinthians 3). God is now waiting on us to accept his forgiveness by faith in the shed blood of Jesus. He is holding out forgiveness to us, rather than withholding forgiveness from us until we ask for it.
The truth of the Bible is that God is the one doing the asking as it relates to forgiveness. He is asking us to accept his grace, his forgiveness freely given to us in Jesus. So rather than God waiting on us to ask him to forgive us, he is actually waiting on us to accept his forgiveness...the complete forgiveness that came by the once-for-all-sacrifice for all people, for all sin, for all time.
Because of the death for Jesus for all sin, for all people, for all time, there is no more forgiveness we need to ask God for, rather we accept his forgiveness by faith in Jesus and then live in daily appreciation for his forgiveness, instead of asking God daily to forgive us.
This is the message of grace. This is the message of the new covenant. It is a message that God is no longer counting our sins against us. This is the message God is asking us to accept (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). You see, all of our sins were counted against Jesus. And if all our sins were counted against Jesus, how many are left to be counted against us? None! That is good news. That is the gospel! That is grace!
We are ambassadors of this message as if God himself were telling others this good news through us! This message of complete forgiveness that we accept by faith is God's message to the world. Through us, he is telling the world, "I love you! I am not counting your sins against you. All your sins were counted against Jesus. There are no sins left to be counted against you. Will accept my forgiveness by faith?"
You see, God is the one doing the asking, not us. We accept by faith the forgiveness he is holding out to us. We then say, "Thank you God for forgiving all of my sins through the shed blood of Jesus." We say, "Thank you Jesus for dying for all of my sins."
This is the message the early church preached. Peter preached this message of receiving or accepting God's forgiveness in Acts 10:43. Paul preached this message of our sins being forgiven and simply believing as the means of accepting God's forgiveness in Acts 13:38.
This is the same message we are to proclaim today...the message that through faith in Jesus we accept the forgiveness God is extending to us by his grace.
God does not wait for us to ask him to forgive us before he extends forgiveness to us. That is not the message of the new covenant. That is not the message of the cross. That is not the message of grace. That is not the message of the shed blood of Jesus. That is not the true message of Christianity. No, God in his grace extends forgiveness to us without us having to ask him to do it or to ask him for it. That is grace! That is our God!
Some may ask about 1 John 1:9 or the Lord's Prayer when Jesus says, "If you do not forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will not forgive you." These are good questions to ask. I teach from a Scriptural perspective on those two sections of Scripture on the Brad's Blog section of my website. From this page you are reading, scroll down until you see "The Lord's Prayer". Click on "The Lord's Prayer" and it will take you to my blog. I have many other blogs of my site teaching on total forgiveness, as well.
My prayer is that this post will set you free from living in the daily cycle and misery of asking God to forgive you, but secretly fearing there may be some of your sins he has not forgiven. My prayer is that you will experience the truth of the new covenant of grace...that you will know all your sins have been completely forgiven through the shed blood of Jesus on the cross (Colossians 2:13-14). Just accept this good news of grace through faith in Jesus and start enjoying your relationship with the God who has completely forgiven you and passionately loves you!