God's Forgiveness - What's Required?
The Bible gives us the costly requirement for God's forgiveness: "Without the shedding of Blood, there is no forgiveness" (Hebrews 9:22). In the Old Testament, the continual sacrifices of unblemished lambs were required to satisfy God's wrath and judgment. However, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on a Roman cross and became the ultimate, once-and-for-all sacrifice for our sins. Jesus purchased God's forgiveness on our behalf when he became the Lamb of God and died on the cross for you and me.
"For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God" (1 Peter 3:18). "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace" (Ephesians 1:7).
God's Forgiveness - He Paid the Price Himself
God hates sin, but He loves the sinner. The price for God's forgiveness is high, but He paid the price Himself. By Christ's loving act of grace, believers are eternally freed from the penalty and guilt of sin. Once we're covered by the Blood of Christ, God doesn't keep a record of our sins. Our forgiveness is total and complete.
"Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, who sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord doesn't count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit" (Psalm 32:1-2).
"I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more" (Isaiah 43:25).
"It is possible for the Lord to look at us without seeing our sins because when he forgave us, he removed our sins as far as the east is from the west" (Psalm 103:12).
God's Forgiveness - Once and for All!
A believer receives God's forgiveness when he repents of sin and places his faith in Jesus Christ for salvation -- all of his sins are forgiven forever. That includes past, present and future, big or small. Jesus died to pay the penalty for all of our sins, and once they are forgiven, they are all forgiven (Colossians 1:14; Acts 10:43). However, when we stumble, we are called to confess our sins - "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). Yes, Christians do sin (1 John 1:8) - but the Christian life is not to be identified by a life of sin. Believers are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). We have the Holy Spirit in us producing good fruit (Galatians 5:22-23). A Christian life should be a changed life. A person who claims to be a believer yet continually lives a life that says otherwise should question the genuineness of his faith. Christians are forgiven no matter how many times they sin, but at the same time, Christians should live a progressively more holy life as they grow closer to Christ.
Christians continue to sin after they are saved - we will not be free from sin until we die or Jesus comes back. However, becoming a Christian results in a changed life (2 Corinthians 5:17). A person will go from producing the acts of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21) to producing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). This change does not happen instantly, but it does happen over time. Paul tells us, "And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:11).