People talk extensively about issues of freedom, but we rarely hear talk of true freedom (Jn 8:32). True freedom is a release from real bondage (Rev 1:5). Real bondage is spiritual captivity to sin (Rom 7:4). Sin demands a hearing from the Law to even be considered sin (Rom 3:20). Men remain in slavery to sin their whole lives (Jn 8:34), and without God’s intervention (Rom 6:6, 16–18), all would die in their trespasses and sins, and then face the appointed judgment of God (Heb 9:27).

Who can forgive sins? It is God who forgives transgressors of His Law (Ps 79:9). Jesus caused immense scandal, with the religious leaders in Israel, when He declared the forgiveness of sins (Mk 2:5). This is evidence of Christ’s deity and authority to forgive sins, as the Son of Man (Lk 5:24). Therefore, one must receive forgiveness of sins from Jesus Christ.

How can God justify sinners who break His Law, while serving sin, as slaves to sin (Rom 6:6)? The way God maintains His position, as a righteous Judge, is to accept the payment for sins from each sinner or her substitute. Most people pay for their sins in fiery, eternal hell, which is the second death. The dead soul, from conception, is joined by the body of death, and then the body/soul is sentenced to eternal punishment on the Day of Judgment. Justice is served, through this right action by God, in accordance with His Law. God is just and the justifier of the ones who have faith in Jesus Christ (Rom 3:26). Christians are justified by a just Judge because we have been declared “not guilty” of sin, through full payment for sins.

Sins are real transgressions, and judgment is truly executed. Forgiveness is a genuine status. Forgiven and released are authentic spiritual experiences. The guilt of sin weighs heavy on sinners, but those who have been set free from sin are free indeed (Jn 8:32). God clears the conscience of guilty sinners, justified by the blood of their Substitute (Heb 9:14).

Despite the cavil of liberal Christians, substitution is an acceptable method of payment for sins. This is true in the Old Testament type, of the sacrificial substitute lamb, under the Law of atonement (Lev 16). Clearly, sins are committed. The Law of God is broken. Justification comes with a life for a life. There is life in the blood. The blood of a slain lamb was an acknowledgment of the seriousness of sin. The type was meant to point to the coming permanent solution for sin.

Jesus Christ is called both, high priest (Heb 4:14) and lamb (Jn 1:29). The high priest in the temple made the acceptable offerings to God, for the sins of the people of Israel. A lamb was slaughtered, and its blood was placed on the mercy seat, atop the ark of the covenant, in the most holy place of the tabernacle/temple. God accepted the blood of the substitute, in the place of the sinner making the offering. The mediator between God and the sinner was the high priest.

Blood on the mercy seat brought forgiveness of sins, for the people of Israel, on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). Jesus Christ is the substitute sacrifice, for the sins of His people, the Israel of God, His church (Gal 6:16). It is His blood that releases us from all our sins (Rev 1:5). As the high priest, Jesus Christ offered Himself as the Lamb of God (Jn 1:29). His offering occurred once, to bear the sins of many (Heb 9:28). It was a one-time offering, for all of the sins of all His people (Mt 1:21; Heb 10:10).

All sins can be forgiven, with the exception of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Mt 12:31). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth (Jn 16:13), who bears witness of the truth of Christ (Jn 14:16). For a sinner to rebel is natural (1 Cor 2:14; Eph 2:3). To blaspheme against God is extreme wickedness. One must be given over to demons, to fight against God with such offensive evil. Blasphemy is an utterance of perversity. It is to attribute the works of the Holy Spirit to Satan. This is wicked and a pure evil. It is called, “an eternal sin (Mk 3:29).”

The Gospel of Jesus Christ calls all men to repentance, from their sins (Acts 13:38; 17:30). The repentant sinner asks for the forgiveness of her sins (Lk 11:4). “Ask and you shall receive,” was Jesus’ encouragement to His disciples (Jn 16:24). She confesses her sins, knowing that God is faithful and righteous to forgive her (1 Jn 1:9). Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered (Rom 4:7).

The Apostle John recognized the blessing of the Christian, in Christ, “I am writing you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake (1 Jn 2:12).” The Christian minister has the joy of declaring forgiveness, to those who are in Christ Jesus, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Col 1:14).

God has made permanent, the status of those who have been positioned into Christ’s status before the Father. This union with Christ is permanent righteousness. Evidence of the saint’s position is the gift of the Holy Spirit given to her (2 Cor 5:5). The Christian can say, “My sins: past, present, and future are all forgiven because of my right standing with God, in Christ, who died as a substitutionary payment for my sins. I stand before God in Christ’s righteousness.”

In summary, we have seen the problem of sin, which leads to death. We have seen the payment method for sins, in two forms: self-payment or substitutionary payment. Both forms assure us of God’s justice. God’s provisional payment for sins comes through Jesus Christ. As we have noted, our sins were placed in His account, to be paid for by His blood. His willing sacrifice was sufficient and accepted by God, who raised Jesus from the dead. The resurrection confirms God’s acceptance and hearty approval.

In His mercy, God extends forgiveness of sins, to those He sends His Holy Spirit, to regenerate and indwell (Tit 3:5). These chosen people are made aware of what God in Christ has done for them (2 Cor 4:6; 2 Pet 3:18), and they are given faith to believe in the truth of God (Eph 2:8–9; Phil 1:29). It is through this bestowed faith that grace is understood, along with the salvation made reality, through Christ’s shed blood, on the Cross of Calvary. Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins (Heb 9:22); but His blood has been shed for us (Mt 26:28), and for this reason our sins have been forgiven (Eph 1:7).

In conclusion, Christians must promote this idea of God forgiving sinners through Jesus Christ. There is no other acceptable substitute for sinners, in payment for their sins. They must be aware there is a substitute. For this reason, we join the Apostle Paul in preaching Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor 2:2).

It is through His precious blood (1 Pet 1:19), we know a payment has been made on our behalf and in our stead (1 Pet 1:18–20). Knowledge of forgiveness is a gift we extend to others because we have been forgiven by God, with mercy, love, and compassion. God forgives sins, and we forgive sinners, when they trespass against us. Forgiveness is His gift, we have received from Him. What a gift of God it is to know your sins are forgiven! What a joy it is to tell other Christians this good news, “Your sins have been forgiven.”

David E. Norczyk

Spokane Valley, Washington

December 30. 2020

Some random theologian out West somewhere, Christian writer, preacher