Title – time and time again
Do you struggle with sin as much as I do? I know in my own life, I’m constantly asking for forgiveness for things. Constantly screwing up and remembering that I need to hold myself to a better standard. Feeling angry that I let myself fail again in the same areas. I’ve been reading a book called Jesus swagger. The books premise focuses on what it means to be a true christian. To not be a poser christian. And to walk the walk and really experience the strongest possible connection to the Lord. I want that connection in my own life, and I want to make sure I’m the real deal. That what I say and do give proof to the world that I’m a christian.
Now, I really notice how often I need to ask for forgiveness. My eyes have been focused in a bit more. It’s been more evident to me lately because of the book. It’s pointed out how important it is to keep the relationship I have with God strong and close, and free of blemishes. If you’re anything like me, you’ll understand how frustrating it is to ask for forgiveness for the same issues over and over again.
We have to understand that God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. But he does expect us to at least put in some effort to be better. We’ve talked about repentance before, but this time I wanted to focus on the forgiveness of God. And how special it is. How remarkable it is. How we don’t have to worry about it running out. And we have to understand that God isn’t going to give up on us. Time and time again we will fail. But time and time again, God forgives us.
Forgiveness is always flowing for those who seek it.
5 This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. 6 So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. 7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. (1 John 1:5-10 NLT)
Something that hits me about that passage, is when he says, “we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God, but go on living in spiritual darkness.”
There is no darkness in God at all. He is the light. So to live a life where we sin persistently and don’t really put an effort out to change. And to not ask God to cleanse us and make us right with him again. Makes us liars. We’re not living in faith by acting this way. We don’t have fellowship with God when we perpetually allow sin to be a part of our life. Those verses are clear about that.
However, for those of us who truly want to grow. Who really care about our relationship with God and desire a strong and meaningful bond with Jesus. And want to put effort out when it comes to resisting sin, and putting an end to the grasps sin has on certain spaces of our life. We can be absolutely sure, that forgiveness is always there. There’s no limit to the mercy we will be shown. Just as we read in verse seven and verse nine.
7″But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.”
9″But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”
As a real follower of Christ, putting out real effort and actions to try to live in a way that honors God. And also having a true heart for God, we will be forgiven and cleansed no matter what! We don’t have to worry about God getting sick of our same mistake, and our lack of consistency.
As a real christian we will have fellowship with the Lord and walk with him. When we stumble, we will ask for forgiveness. And we will make changes and strive to walk better, because we want to honor God.
We need to keep this principle in mind, we don’t strive to be holy so God will accept us. It’s because God accepts us “through Jesus”, that we are able to be seen by God as holy no matter what. God doesn’t expect perfection. But he expects us to walk with him. And through that walk. And through our faith in him, were forever forgiven. What a blessing to never be abandoned because of our mistakes.
God is so merciful and loving. I know that it’s so easy to get discouraged and disappointed in myself. I’ll feel like God is going to be sick of forgiving me. And that he’s going to move on and find someone else to work with. But it’s never been about my performance. It’s always been about Jesus performance.
For a true follower of Christ. We have unlimited, unmerited forgiveness that will never run out. That’s a blessing. And that encourages me to stay strong and strive to be better. Because he loves me so much, I won’t give up on fighting for him.
Respecting my savior because he loves me.
You don’t like to get taken advantage of right? It doesn’t feel good to be used. When it comes to Gods forgiveness, I think we don’t respect God enough. I think we take advantage of his forgiveness. I think that we can so easily breeze through praying for forgiveness without really acknowledging the mistake. And then we move on and put it behind us. That’s a very one sided relationship. And it’s pretty disrespectful to God.
Something I read in a bible study recently about prayer was very fitting for this. So I’ll share it with you all.
“The Hebrew word for prayer – tefillah – means to “self evaluate”. So to the Jews of the Bible, prayer was not a time when they asked God for things … it was a time when they examined themselves. They would use prayer as a way to compare their actions, behavior and attitude against God’s holiness.”
I think it’s very cool to note that difference. In the world today prayer is usually an act of asking for God to give us things. That’s the common world view. As a christian today, were encouraged to ask God for things and to speak with him regularly, but I think we should also get back to that “tefillah” style of prayer. Where we examine ourselves deeply. And just as it was written “compare ourselves against his holiness.” We’re always going to fall short. But often we don’t even acknowledge how messed up we are.
Imagine if someone broke an important item of yours and it was blatantly on purpose. You witnessed it happen. Then they looked at you and said, “hey I’m sorry about that.” And then sprinted away and never said another word about it.
That’s exactly how we treat God so often when it comes to asking him for forgiveness. There’s no acknowledgement of how wrong it was. We may not even admit that he’s told us not to do that thing. And we just use his forgiveness as a crutch to make ourselves believe everything is ok. If we’re going to ask for forgiveness, then ask for it. Don’t sprint through it. Take time and be real. It all comes back to how real our walk with him is. Because if God is just a get out of hell free card for you. Then you’re really living a minuscule christian existence.
“Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.”
2 Corinthians 13:5 NLT
If being saved is nothing more then fire insurance for us, then I think we’re in it for the wrong reasons. Being saved from hell is an incredible part of being saved, but having a personal relationship with the creator is so incredibly satisfying and meaningful. We need to pray. And examine ourselves. We have to realize why we believe in Jesus, and get a grasp on how special forgiveness is. Gods love for us is So Immense. And we’re so undeserving. Yet he still provides for us. We should want to love the lord and serve him because of his love for us. We should ask for forgiveness because we hurt the heart of God when we sin against him. And we want things to be restored and eye to eye. Not one sided.
This verse just drives home that love He has for us. It also shows the importance of us loving God. And re affirms that he lives in the hearts of those who love him.
“We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.”
1 John 4:16 NLT
One and done.
““This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day, says the LORD: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Then he says, “I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.” And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices.”
Hebrews 10:16-18 NLT
When God forgives us. There are no strings attached. We don’t have to keep asking over and over until he gives in. We don’t have to try to fight for him to forgive us. Once forgiven, he will never remember the things we did wrong. It’s as though they didn’t happen in his eyes.
As christians, God has written his laws on our hearts. He’s given us the Holy Spirit that impresses on us right from wrong. He’s written these things in us so that we will be guided on a path that will be fulfilling and holy.
The guilt we feel after falling short isn’t to make us discouraged and depressed on ourselves. It’s a representative of how God feels. It’s unpleasant. And shameful. It warns us that what we did was out of line and dangerous. God forgives us and heals us. And when he does. We need to let go of it.
Our sins were nailed to the cross with Jesus and now we are clean and righteous in the eyes of God because of that. We have to move on from the sinful things we were doing and be done with them.
When we sin now, we still need to ask forgiveness. But I’ve heard it said this way. As a Christian, the forgiveness we ask for isn’t judicial, it’s relational. When we screw up and hurt a friends feelings or do something wrong to a family member, we ask forgiveness. Because we want to be eye to eye and right with them again. And it’s the same with our spiritual relationship.
The Lord wants to walk with us, and he wants to have a close knit relationship. He loves us deeply. Sin and darkness get in the way of that walk. And forgiveness is always available. And once it’s been given, it’s as good as gone. One and done.