Having a proper understanding of our identity in Christ greatly depends on how we view God's forgiveness toward us. If we see ourselves as unforgiven or not worthy of forgiveness, it perverts our understanding of God's love. In a world where forgiveness has to be earned or paid for; complete and unconditional forgiveness is sometimes difficult to understand. However; the Scriptures tell us that this is the way God has forgiven us.
When Christ died on the cross, His last words were, "It is finished." In other words, "The payment for sin has been satisfied." All of the world's sins - past, present, and future were paid for. This is the freedom we have as children of God. As 2 Corinthians 5:19 says, God is no longer "counting men's sins against them."
Key Verse: Acts 10:43
All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.
1. Who do the prophets testify about? 2. What must one do to receive forgiveness of sins?- 3. In light of this verse, what were the prophets in the Old Testament expecting the Messiah to do? 4. Did He fulfill His mission? 5. When you put your faith in Christ, what did you receive? 6. According to this verse, what is part of your identity in Christ?
I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles.! am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me (Acts 26:17,18).
1. According to these verses, what was Paul's mission? 2. Who were we under the power of before coming to Christ? 3. What do we receive upon putting our faith in Christ? 4. How are we sanctified? 5. If we are forgiven and sanctified when we put our faith in Christ, is there a need to be sanctified and forgiven at any subsequent time after our salvation? 6. When we become a child of God, what do we receive as part of our inheritance?
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13,14).
1. What has God rescued us from? 2. What do we have in Christ? 3. At what point were we redeemed? 4. At what point were we forgiven? 5. Does this verse say that forgiveness and redemption is a present-day reality or something we must ask for on a daily basis? 6. In light of all the previous verses, it is quite clear that 'our forgiveness was complete on the day we put our faith in Christ. Are you willing to rest in the fact that you are totally forgiven and that there is nothing you can do to add to it?
Then he adds: "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more." And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin (Hebrews lO:l7,~8).
1. What is it that God won't remember? 2. Why won’t He remember them? 3. If God has forgiven our sins and remembers them no more, how, then, should we look at our sins? 4. How does this understanding make you feel about your relationship with God? 5. Is there anything to be fearful of in our relationship with God?
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us (1 John 4:18,19).
1. According to this verse, if someone is fearful, what is he fearful of? 2. What would make us fearful of God's punishment? 3. What is it that drives out fear? 4. In the same way, what is it that drives out love? 5. Can we be fearful and loving at the same time? 6. How can we love God? 7. How does knowing that you are forgiven take away the fear of God's punishment?
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:19-23).
1. How did Jesus open the way for us to the Most Holy Place? 2. What is the Most Holy Place? 3. Who is our great priest? 4. Does knowing that you are forgiven give you confidence to approach God? 5. What is it that cleanses us from a guilty conscience? 6. With what attitude are we to draw near to God? 7. According to verse 23, who is it that is faithful, us or Him? 8. Why do you think it is important to know that part of your inheritance as a child of God is total forgiveness? In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence (Ephesians 3:12).
1. In light of this verse, how may we approach God? 2. What does it means to approach God with Freedom and confidence/ 3. How can we have freedom? 4. We have seen that our relationship with God should be greatly affected by the forgiveness Christ has provided. Is there any reason why you are not experience ing the freedom and confidence in your relationship with God? If so, are you willing to let go of it and by faith accept the fact that as a child of God you are totally forgiven and that this is your identity?
Our understanding of God's forgiveness has a lot to do with how we treat other people. If we have never experienced God's love and forgiveness for ourselves, it is very hard to be loving and forgiving toward others.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:32).
1. Why are we to forgive others? 2. How did God forgive us? 3. If God has forgiven us totally and unconditionally, how should we forgive others? 4. If we see ourselves as unforgiven or in danger of punishment, how will we treat others? 5. If we see ourselves as forgiven, how will we treat others? Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you (Colossians 3:12,13).
1. How are we described as God's people in this passage? 2. What are we to clothe ourselves with? 3. A forgiving spirit is totally natural for God's people. Why is this? 4. How many sins did Christ forgive us of? 5. How many grievances are we to forgive others of?
As we have seen, forgiveness is at the very root of our identity in Christ. His unconditional love for us that He demonstrated by dying on the cross is what gives us the power to draw near to God and to love others.