Redemption, Forgiveness, Grace
Ephesians Lesson #025
May 5, 2019
“Father, You have revealed Yourself to us in Your Word. You have informed us of so many different things related to our original condition as fallen, sinful, spiritually dead, corrupt human beings, yet still in Your image and likeness. You have revealed to us Your perfect plan of salvation as it has progressively been revealed from the time of the Garden of the Eden to the present time in the completed Canon of Scripture that we have.
“Father, as we study Your Word, we come to understand the dimensions of Your plan and what You’ve provided for us and what is ours in Christ, especially in this study of Ephesians.
“Now, Father, we pray, as we focus again on this study of redemption and forgiveness, that You would help us to see the importance of what we have in Christ, and how that is to be transformed into the way we deal with one another and ourselves.
“We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
Open your Bibles with me to Ephesians 1 as we go forward talking about redemption and forgiveness and grace.
Slides 3 and 4
In Ephesians 1:7, the Apostle Paul wrote, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”
Last time, we focused on the meaning of redemption. The word redemption is not necessarily in common use today, especially the way in which it is used in the Scripture. The idea of redemption in its core meaning is integral to understanding the work of Christ on the Cross, especially in relation to God the Father.
By way of summary and a few points:
1. First of all, the emphasis in this passage, in that opening line, “In Him we have redemption,” is our present reality, a present ongoing state of being redeemed and knowing that we are redeemed. We continue to have redemption. It is our possession whether we understand it, whether we feel like it, whether we are believing it now or not. It is what we have in Christ, our possession because of our position in Him, which occurred at the instant of salvation.
The foundation of redemption is not what happened when you and I trusted Christ as Savior. That was when we realized redemption in our experience. The payment of the price occurred historically in AD 33 when Jesus of Nazareth was crucified by the Jews and the Romans at Golgotha. At that time, He paid the penalty for sin.
The primary aspect of that payment is Godward, directed toward God. It is the payment of a penalty. The penalty was established and assessed by God before Adam and Eve disobeyed Him. God said, “The instant you eat from the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, you will certainly die.” Genesis 2:17. That established the penalty that would be instantaneous at the moment they ate of that fruit.
That tells us, first of all, that it wasn’t physical death because Adam did not die for another 930 years, but something happened instantly that involved separation from God, a breach in the rapport that they had had with God. The essence of spiritual death is separation from God. The penalty, the legal penalty for sin, had to be paid. This transpired on the Cross. Jesus Christ paid that penalty, so that is Godward. It resolved that legal penalty that was assessed against every human being; therefore, that penalty is no longer the issue.
That doesn’t mean we are automatically saved because we are still born spiritually dead. We still have a lack of righteousness. But that legal penalty, the foundational penalty, was paid for by Christ on the Cross.
This is emphasized in 1 Peter 1:18–19, “… knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” The price that was paid is expressed through that phrase “through His blood.” That was the price, and it means His death, not His physical death. The shedding of blood relates to a certain kind of violent physical death, but it stands also as a metaphor for what transpired in His spiritual death, which occurred between 12 noon and 3 PM when He was separated from God the Father. In this opening phrase, Paul emphasized the fact that we now possess this. It is our reality in terms of our position in Christ.
The second thing that we emphasized last time and spent some time on was that
2. Both the Hebrew and the Greek words emphasize the payment of a price for the purpose of deliverance, the release from bondage. They were also used at times for someone being released from a death.
In the Hebrew, another word used for redemption is the verb ga’al, which is important for the noun go’el, referring to the Redeemer, the one who is a Kinsman Redeemer. The word used for redemption here in this passage is APOLYTROSIS. Several different words we looked at last time express this idea of the payment of a price. Whenever you think of the word redemption, you ought to think that a price was paid, but it was paid with an idea toward the release of a person who is in bondage. That is the idea. You cannot really separate those two ideas.
In fact, many argue that this word puts the emphasis on the release but not at the expense of losing sight of the payment of the price. That is really important when we get into understanding the significance of this whole introduction. Ephesians 1:7, “we have redemption through His blood …,” is absolutely parallel to the Colossians 1:14 statement, which is identical, “In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”
There are different words as I pointed out. APOLYTROSIS is built on some of those. The root word is LUO, which has the idea of a release. Different nouns and different verbs with different prepositions bring out different aspects of that redemption, which I talked about last time.
Harold Hoehner in his expansive commentary on Ephesians makes the comment that it has the idea of release on the receipt of ransom, not simply the idea of the payment of the ransom. Hoehner says much that I’m not quite in agreement with. He was a good deal more Calvinistic than I am. Dr. Hoehner was head of the New Testament Department at Dallas Seminary for maybe thirty-five or forty years and taught the Ephesians course, which was a second-year, second-semester exegetical course that every student had to take. He probably had more real study time on Ephesians than most commentators. His is considered one of the best, but that doesn’t mean that he is right.
Even when we are walking by the Spirit, by the way, that doesn’t mean that when we study and come to conclusions, our results are guaranteed. That surprises some people. I hear people say, “How can two pastors who are both filled by means of the Spirit come up with different conclusions?” Because the filling ministry of God the Holy Spirit isn’t an inspiration ministry of God the Holy Spirit. It is for the purpose of the spiritual life, not for the purpose of being able to speak inerrantly, ex cathedra. I think that’s a new thought for some people.
What is the role of the Spirit in the Christian’s life? It is the Christian way of life. It is not a guarantee that when you have studied in fellowship with the Lord, your results are going to be absolutely perfect. We all know pastors who have changed, refined, and improved their understanding of the Word over the course of twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty years of pulpit ministry. It is important to read and to study and to think. Each generation seems to refine and improve on what they were taught if they are truly doing that well. Sometimes, they reverse and go in the other of the direction.
The emphasis is on the release that comes from the payment of a price. It always has that idea of a payment of a price. That is really important.
In the conclusion, I pointed out that the implication of redemption for us in the spiritual life is that it should transform the way we live. We see this in the Scripture in 1 Corinthians 6:20, that we have been “bought with a price;” therefore, we are not our own. Paul developed that idea in Romans 6:15–19, saying that we are born slaves of sin, slaves of our sin natures. In the baptism by the Holy Spirit, that tyranny of the sin nature is broken so that we are able to live as servants of righteousness. Our volition chooses whether we are going to re-enslave ourselves to our sin natures, or whether we are going to walk by means of the Spirit and serve the Lord as servants of righteousness.
The next thing that we have to understand in this verse is the phrase “the forgiveness of sins.” We have redemption [comma], the forgiveness of sins [comma]. The commas in English, which are not there in the Greek because they didn’t use punctuation like that, were indicated by the syntax. The phrase is set off from the main subject redemption as an appositional phrase.
There we go getting technical with grammar again. An appositional phrase further explains or may slightly expand or emphasize one aspect of the first noun. I’ve developed this little chart. Whenever we are talking about a noun, a word, a person, or a thing, many attributes could be mentioned about a person or a thing or an animal or what whatever is part of the concept of the noun. The appositional phrase zeroes in on one of those attributes so that you know what you’re talking about, clarifying and narrowing down the focus of the subject.
For example, if we are talking about George Washington, we could mention many things about him, everything from his military career to his career as a plantation owner to his personal life. If we say George Washington, the first president of the United States, we know that we’re going to say something about George Washington in relation to that which is emphasized in the appositional phrase.
That’s the point of the chart there. You can say all these different things, but attribute is being emphasized for the purpose of narrowing the focus in the sentence.
We could say something about Martin Luther. We could say a lot of different things about Martin Luther, but in this sentence, “Martin Luther, the initiator of the Protestant Reformation, became the founder of the denomination named for him,” the appositional phrase narrows the focus down to that part of his life that was related to the Reformation, the theological impact that came as he recovered the doctrine of justification by faith alone.
When we look at this phrase, “redemption, the forgiveness of sins,” we are not looking at two contrasting or even different ideas. The forgiveness of sins is part of the broader concept of redemption. By saying it this way, Paul was telling us he was focusing on one particular aspect of redemption. If we have that broad circle there as covering all the different things one could say about redemption, one of the subsets of the ideas of redemption relates to forgiveness. This isn’t always so clear in the English usage of the words although if you drill down in the dictionary, you can discover it. It is clear in the two different Greek words that were used for forgive.
The first word is in the verb form, which is APHIEMI. The noun form is APHESIS. The verb form means to let something go, to release it, to cancel it, to remit, to leave, or to forgive and is often used in an economic sense of forgiving a debt. Remember that redemption has to do with the payment of a price to release someone, so it has that same financial nuance of the canceling of a debt without leaving aside the idea of the payment of a price. Both of these words emphasize that idea of canceling a debt. The assumption there is that, in some sense, somebody is paying that debt. It emphasizes the act of forgiveness, the canceling of the debt.
The second word that we find in the New Testament that is translated forgive or forgiveness is the verb CHARIZOMAI. Later, we will find this word in Ephesians 4:32 when we are commanded to “forgive one another as God, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven us.” That important word is used for the forgiveness of a debt. Both APHIEMI and CHARIZOMAI have this idea of canceling a debt. They’re used that way, so if you have a mortgage and somebody pays it off for you, that debt has been canceled. If you owe somebody something because of something they’ve done for you, and that is forgiven, that debt is canceled.
Forgiveness is done out of grace. The root of CHARIZOMAI is the Greek noun, CHARIS, the word for grace. CHARIZOMAI literally means to be gracious to somebody. It is used for this same sense of forgiveness, for canceling of a debt, but it emphasizes the attitude that underlies it, which is the attitude of grace. You are not doing it with some condition attached to it. It’s being done freely in kindness. That is its usage in Ephesians 4:32, literally, “Be kind to one another by forgiving one another …”
In Luke 7:42, Jesus gave a parable. He talked about various servants who had incurred debts to the master. He concluded “When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” The point of the parable was who was forgiven more. He used that word CHARIZOMAI. It was clearly used in a financial sense of forgiving a debt.
We have this showing up in our parallel passage in Colossians 2:14. I want you turn with me there and get a clear understanding of the relation of forgiveness to the Cross. It is important to do this because forgiveness is related in different ways to the Cross. Ephesians 1:7 and Colossians 1:14 have to do with the forgiveness that we have in Christ; therefore, they are clearly talking about positional forgiveness.
When we ask the question of when forgiveness occurs, Colossians 2:12–14 tells us. This is interesting. He said in Colossians 2:13, “And you, when you were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses.” It might seem that this occurred at the time that we trusted Christ as Savior because that was the time when we were made alive together with Him. When we get into the Greek (and this is one of the passages I like to use as an illustration of why it’s important to know the Greek), participles were used here.
It’s a long sentence with these participles, which in this case modify verbs and tell us additional information about that verbal action. In other words, how did forgiveness take place, when did it take place, and what were its characteristics? The word used here is CHARIZOMAI. It is grammatically an aorist active participle. The important thing, whenever you look at a sentence, is to identify the finite verb. That is the main action verb, and the main action verb here is “He has made alive.” That’s also an aorist tense. Understanding the grammar of a participle means that if it’s a present tense participle, the timing is at the same time as that of the main verb. If it is aorist, which is a past tense, the writer is saying that this action in the participle preceded the action in the main verb. If the main verb is aorist, as it is here, sometimes it can be simultaneous, so we have to look at the context.
In my opinion, this is one of the most important passages for Christians to get their mental arms around. So many people today just don’t understand forgiveness. Many have gone through events in their lives where they realize that something horrible happened to them or they did something horrible, and they continue to be filled with shame and guilt, and this really limits their spiritual lives because they have a hard time accepting God’s forgiveness.
If you’re not accepting God’s forgiveness, you don’t believe God when He said you are forgiven. That is an ongoing sin that is debilitating to the spiritual life. We live in a world today, because of the sensuality of our culture, that many things have happened, some bad things have happened to people, and some have engaged in perverted sins and other things, that they have a hard time accepting God’s forgiveness. It’s so important to understand how and why God forgives us.
This word that is translated forgiven means to give something freely or graciously. That’s its core meaning. It’s not because we have earned it or deserve it because we don’t earn it or deserve it. Frankly, if all of us came to grips with how sinful we are, we would all be filled with remorse and shame and horror. How in the world could anybody ever love us or forgive us if they really knew us? God knows us better than we know ourselves, so it’s all unearned and undeserved.
Forgiveness means to cancel a sum of money or a debt that is owed. The debt that is owed in this context is the debt of the sin penalty. We will see that in the next verse.
The implication is a transformed life. An application is the idea of canceling a debt by forgiving or pardoning an action. Essentially, we read here, and I’m going to expand on the translation a little bit, in Colossians 2:3, “And you”—you as a believer looking at the past—“when you were dead in your trespasses and sins …” The word that is translated “when you were dead” is a participle and should be understood as a temporal participle. He was looking back to that time when you were spiritually dead, when I was spiritually dead. It is parallel to Ephesians 2:1 that says the same thing, “… when we were dead”—and there it is—“in our trespasses and sins.” Here, it is “trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh,” but it is the same idea. We were spiritually dead. We were born that way. We were separated from God.
Then, he said, “He has made alive together with Him.” That’s just one word in Greek, and it is an aorist active indicative, so that is your main verb. These two participles modify that main verb. The first one tells us that our condition prior to being made alive was being spiritually dead; therefore, we were obnoxious to God. The second one tells us the circumstances that were necessary to solve that problem and make us alive together with Him. That is an aorist passive participle, and it precedes the action of the main verb, so He forgave us of all trespasses before He made us alive. Making us alive together with Him is regeneration—we’re being born again—but that forgiveness of all trespasses preceded that.
How long before did it precede it? A couple of seconds? A couple of minutes? A couple of days? A couple of centuries? When we look at the context, we will find out that it occurred at the Cross, not when we trusted Christ as Savior. This objective forgiveness was provided for every human being. The cancellation of the sin penalty occurred at the Cross.
In this slide, I tried to expand these three verses to give us a better sense of what is going on here. He began the thought in Colossians 2:12, “In Him.” The letter to the Colossians was written about the same time as the epistle to the Ephesians, and both were considered to be cyclical epistles; that is, they not only went to the church they were addressed to, but they would be passed around to other churches in Western Turkey in the same geographical vicinity of the seven churches mentioned at the beginning of Revelation.
“In Him you were baptized when you”—again, it is a participle, so we have to supply temporal words—“you were baptized when you were buried with Him in baptism.” This occurred at the instant we believed. Romans 6:3–6 talks about the fact that at the instant of salvation, we are identified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. That is called the baptism by the Holy Spirit. He was talking about that here. He was not talking about literal, water baptism, believer’s baptism, or any of the other six forms of baptism in the New Testament.
“In Him you were baptized”— at the instant of faith in Christ—“when you were buried with Him in baptism, in which”—or by which probably—“by which”—that is that baptism by the Spirit—“you were raised together with Him.” Paul said in Romans 6:3–6 that we were raised to newness of life. That happened at Phase 1. When we were justified and realized that forgiveness, we were made new creatures in Christ, and we were identified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection so that we were raised to newness of life.
He went on to say in Colossians 2:13, “And you”—that is when—“you were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of the flesh …” That term would be tantamount to saying spiritually dead because it’s talking about spiritual circumcision, not physical circumcision. When “… you were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of the flesh, He made you alive together with Him …” It’s past tense because he was referring to their salvation, which was several years before. “… He made you alive together with Him because He forgave you all trespasses.” That’s the idea. It explained the cause. Why could He make you alive? Because previously He had forgiven you of all trespasses.
When we look at Colossians 2:14, we see another participle there. I’ve highlighted it in the box, and it has to do with “He canceled the debt of sin.” The clarified idea would be “… because He forgave you all trespasses, when He had canceled the certificate of the debt.” When did He cancel that? When you believed in Jesus? The last line doesn’t say that. The last line says, “… when He nailed it to the cross.” He nailed it to the Cross figuratively when Jesus Christ bore our sin in His own body on the Cross during that period from 12 noon to 3 PM when the sins of the world are imputed to Him.
This is talking about what I have called a legal or forensic forgiveness. We ought to all understand the word forensic now. We’ve watched all these shows from NCIS to CSU ad infinitum, so forensic science, criminal science, is something that is familiar to us. Forensic has to do with legal issues, and the legal penalty against us is spiritual death. At the Cross, that legal penalty was canceled. Are you still born spiritually dead? Yes, that’s what he said in Colossians 2:13. You were born spiritually dead. That was the effect of Adam and Eve’s sin. The legal penalty is now canceled because it was nailed to the Cross.
Four Categories of Forgiveness in the Scripture
1. Forensic forgiveness is directed toward God, where the justice of God cancels the debt of sin or the sin penalty, so it is done for everybody without exception. Colossians 2:13–14.
2. Positional forgiveness happens to us experientially. Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 2:14. This is the manward or, if you want to make it more personal, the “me-ward” aspect of forgiveness. My sin penalty was canceled at the Cross when it was nailed there in AD 33, but I realized that experientially when I trusted in Christ as Savior. At the instant that I trusted in Christ as Savior, I was forgiven.
It’s based on the redemption that occurred at the Cross. The redemption is the payment of that price that canceled the debt, which I just realized in my experience when I trusted in Christ as Savior, so I am positionally forgiven.
It’s important for us to understand the different aspects when we look at a verse such as 1 John 1:7, which says that “the blood of Jesus continually cleanses us from all sin.” Some people stop reading 1 John 1 there and think, “That means that no matter what I do, the blood of Christ or His death applies and I’m automatically cleansed of sin and I don’t need to confess sins.” We will look at that in just a minute.
This is our position. We cannot confuse the positional reality of being in a state of positional cleansing. We are also in a state of positional righteousness because we possess the righteousness of Christ, but we can sin and become carnal. When we sin and are ruled by the sin nature, we’re not walking by the Spirit. According to Galatians 5:16, we are walking according to the sin nature. Paul used of slightly different language in Romans 8. He talked about walking according to the Spirit or walking according to the flesh, but the idea is the same. Positionally in Christ, we are redeemed, and as such, we are forgiven.
3. Experiential forgiveness is our experience in terms of our relationship with God.1 John 1:9. Positional relationship is like your relationship in a family. You were born into a family. You will always be in that family even though, if you behave certain ways, you may not have much rapport with your parents. That rapport, that intimate relationship with them, may not be at all what you would like it to be because of your disobedient behavior. When that is resolved, usually through confession and dealing with it, maybe through some discipline, there is a restoration of rapport. We’re talking about that here in terms of our day-to-day experience or enjoyment of fellowship, that partnership.
That’s KOINONIA. It also has that sense of partnership, a partnership in which we are partnering with God in our spiritual lives. When we break fellowship, that rapport, that partnering with God, having the real joy of our salvation, isn’t there.
We are to confess sin. 1 John 1:9 puts it in a conditional clause. John said, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” That is an important verse. I’ll come back to just a minute.
4. Relational forgiveness. Ephesians 4:32. Because of understanding those first three, we are able to forgive others. Many have problems with forgiving others. Sometimes, people have done really horrible things to us. Sometimes, they have betrayed us in certain ways. Sometimes, they may have committed certain actions against us, and in wisdom, we don’t put ourselves back under their control or put ourselves in a position where they can do it again and again and again.
Forgiveness is different from consequences. Americans have a real hard time with that concept. If somebody goes to prison, and they become a believer in prison, we want to say, “Okay, now you can get out.” They broke the law. That is in the sphere of civil government, and they have to pay that penalty. That is different from committing sin, which is against God, and being forgiven of that sin. The two do not counteract one another.
Forgiving one another is tantamount to the verse I started off with last week. When Christ was on the Cross, He prayed to the Father, “ ‘Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.’ ” He was saying to not hold this sin against them in a special way. They had not trusted in God. They had not believed in Christ. They had not done anything that would bring about the second or third categories of forgiveness, but in a sense, they were forgiven objectively by God when their sin penalty was canceled.
We, too, can forgive others without necessarily putting ourselves in a position of vulnerability toward that person who sinned against us. In our human experience, that enables us to get out from under the attitudes of vindictiveness or fear or shame or resentment or any of the other mental attitudes sins that can go along with it, so that we can let that go. That doesn’t mean that we have to wait necessarily for them to come and apologize or make things right. It is an objective forgiveness in that sense that releases us from trying to hold them accountable for whatever sins they’ve engaged in.
1 John 1:7. “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light…” That is an experiential term. Walking in the light is our experience of walking by the Spirit, abiding in Christ, living the Christian life. Walking in the light implies both holiness in the sense of righteous purity, so this would be experiential righteousness, but also in the light of the revelation of God’s word.
As Jesus prayed in John 17, we were sanctified by means of the truth, by means of the Word. By walking in the light, we are walking with the Lord, we’re walking by the Spirit in the light of His Word, and we have fellowship with one another who are also walking by the Holy Spirit. Our fellowship primarily is with God, and when we are walking in the light, which is in relation to God, that enables us to have Christian fellowship with others, which isn’t just having a good social life with other Christians, but a social life centered on our relationship with the Lord and our spiritual growth.
“… we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His son cleanses us from all sin.” This is the foundation for all forgiveness and for the spiritual life because the blood of Christ is the forensic foundation and the positional reality of every believer. If that meant that we are automatically cleansed of every sin, and we are not to confess sin, then why do we have 1 John 1:9, just two verses later? Did John forget what he said in 1 John 1:7?
Bob George was on the radio in Dallas back when I was in seminary in the 1970s and in the 1980s, and this was his hobbyhorse. He was always going after people who thought 1 John 1:9 meant that they needed to confess sins.
One of the things you learn as you study 1 John is that there are only two ways to interpret it. John is contrasting two groups of people. You can take it that those two groups of people are believers versus unbelievers, and so you have descriptions of what believers do versus descriptions of what unbelievers do. If you take that view, the reformed or Calvinistic interpretation and the Lordship interpretation, you’ve got a lot of other theological problems.
The only other way to take the first epistle of John is that it is contrasting two types of believers:
- Those who are walking in the light and those who are not walking in the light
- Those who are enjoying their relationship with God and growing to spiritual maturity and those who are not
- Those who are growing spiritually and those who are dominated by their sin natures
When we contrast this, and we look at 1 John 1:8, John was saying, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” That doesn’t mean we are not believers. That means we are living according to a lie that we can somehow reach spiritual perfection and stop sinning. The truth—Jesus said, “Your Word is truth”—then we’re not living a life in accord with the Word of God. In contrast, he said, “if we confess our sins,” if instead of denying that we’re sinful or in this case confusing positional truth with experiential truth, we say, “The blood of Christ continually cleanses me from all sin, so I don’t have to think about it.”
Some people are subjective and self-absorbed and say, “I just hate having to constantly think about the fact that I’ve sinned and always trying to remember all my sins.” First of all, you don’t have to remember all your sins. You just have to remember the ones that immediately come to mind and admit those, and instantly you are forgiven of those and cleansed from every other sin. That is not a recipe for self-absorbed guilt and remorse, which is how some people interpret it. It is a serious, objective evaluation of where you are spiritually.
At times, when you’re driving down the highway, you need to verbalize a very quick prayer. Your confession is going to be rather quick and rapid. That should be predicated on the fact that you’re regularly keeping close accounts with the Lord and that you have in your personal prayer time a more focused, objective time of following the example of David in Psalm 32 or Psalm 51 by examining your life and admitting or acknowledging your sins.
1 John 1:9 tells us that we are to confess our sins. If 1 John 1:7 says that we are automatically cleansed and don’t need to confess our sin, Bob George never answered the obvious question, “Why is 1 John 1:9 even there?” That is usually ignored. I’ve never heard anybody attempt to answer it, but the only answer is, “Confessing sins is another way of talking about believing in Jesus and admitting you are a sinner, and you need to believe in Christ.” Nowhere in Scripture does it say you need to admit you’re a sinner before you believe in Christ. If you interpret the verse that way, you have jumped over and are interpreting it according to the view that this contrasts unbelievers and believers. It creates a whole series of hermeneutical traps.
We are to confess our sins. That is the third category of forgiveness, our relationship with God, our experiential relationship.
In Ephesians 4:32, the command is to “be kind to one another.” That is further explained as being “tenderhearted” and by “forgiving one another.” It’s a participle indicating means. One way we express our kindness to one another is by forgiving one another. The standard is “… just as God in Christ has forgiven you.” That is really hard for a lot of people because they have difficulty forgiving others. We constantly have to go to the Cross if we are going to be Christlike and have God’s focus on conforming us to the image of Christ. We have to get a handle on this and let these things go. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you put yourself back into a state of extreme vulnerability to let somebody abuse you or whatever else it might be.
In concluding Ephesians 1:7, the redemption that we have is through His blood. That is the objective payment and cancellation of sin at the Cross, which is realized when we trust in Christ. At that point, it is ours positionally in Him, and we have positional forgiveness because that debt has been canceled. This is all according to the standard of the grace of God, the riches of God’s grace. We don’t merit it. We don’t do anything to bargain with God to get it. It’s free. We can’t do anything to earn it or deserve it. It is God’s grace. He freely gives it. He overloads it on us. We are the beneficiaries of all of God’s goodness given to us. We don’t do anything to earn it or deserve it. The slate is wiped clean. Our position and relation to God has changed. We’ve been reconciled to Him. God’s character has been satisfied through the propitiatory work of Christ on the Cross. We have real forgiveness. Sin is not an issue for us at all.
We will come back next time to look at Ephesians 1:8 and following as we continue to look at what we have now in Christ in this opening eulogy.
“Father, thank You for what we studied. Thank You for Your grace. It is overwhelming. It is more than we could ever imagine. It is free to us though it was not free to You. It cost the payment of that sin penalty by Your Son Jesus Christ on the Cross, where He paid the penalty in full so that all we need to do is simply trust in Him, to accept it as ours. At that instant, we are given eternal life.
“Father, we pray that, if there’s anyone here or anyone listening, they would come to understand the truth of this and that if they have never believed in Jesus, they would understand. The only issue is trusting in Him for eternal salvation.
“For the rest of us, may we realize that because we are forgiven, we can forgive ourselves, we can forgive others, and we can enjoy a close, intimate relationship with You because we have been bought with a price; therefore, we are to live for You, to glorify You.
We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”