OVERFLOWING WITH THANKFULNESS
(the forgiveness issue)
Colossians 2:6-7 says: 'So then, just as you recieved Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and bult up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.'
Are you the kind of Christian that is sincerely overflowing with thankfulness; or are you the kind that says you are, but really you aren't? You say you are because you know that's the way you are supposed to be. And the last thing you will ever do is admit to someone that your Christianity is a lie.
I have good news. There are, lots and lots of Christians like you. You are not alone. There is a very good reason why you feel this way. I know from personal experience. The reason is because your understanding of being a Christian is: to not sin. If your goal is to not sin, then the focus has been placed upon you and how well you do. Your Christianity has now become about you. The focus is always to be on Christ. That is what faith is. Instead of becoming Christ conscious you have become sin conscious; and therefore when you do sin you feel guilty, again and again and again. Do you think that this is the way God wants you to live?
You haven't been taught what the Bible plainly teaches on the issue of forgiveness. You have been taught tradition. Tradition is not necessarily a good thing, because it is something you can be stuck in for a very long time until the truth corrects it.
So here we go, let's get this cleared up once and for all. Ask yourself this question: At the time when Jesus died on the cross, how many of your sins were in the future? The answer is, all of them. More questions: The sins that you commit five days from today; did Jesus die for those sins? Yes he did. Are you going to ask God to forgive you for those sins? If you are; I want to show you what is required to get forgiveness. Look at the last part of Heb.9:22: 'without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.' Whose blood is going to be shed in order for you to get forgiveness? Or did someone already do that?
The way you have been taught to get forgiveness is to recite 1 John 1:9. Simply recite it and you're good to go again. And then again and again and again. Pretty soon your thinking is: 'well if I do sin, all I have to do is 1 John 1:9. Do you see again that the focus is back on you? There is never going to be any real change in your life living this process. That's why there isn't any real change in a lot of Christians' lives. 1 John 1:9 is not even referring to believers. It is a responce to 1 John 1:8 which is talking about people that are not believers. Read it.
Another bad tradition that has been in the church's history is to avoid teaching the book of Hebrews. Church leadership is afraid of this book because it does not fit in with their long standing tradition of teaching 1 John 1:9. In the book of Hebrews we find that there is a huge distinction between the Old Covenant vs. the New Covenant. The Old Covenant, which is the law, has become obsolete. We are no longer under it. Now we are under the New Covenant. Look at Heb. 8:7-13. In the New Covenant God states in verse 12: 'For I will forgive ther wickedness and will remember their sins no more.' Your sins aren't remembered because they have been dealt with.
God is not dealing with mankind on the issue of his sins anymore. He is now dealing with us on the issue of life and on the issue of our minds being renewed. All the world's sins have been forgiven. All of man has been reconciled to God. But; man has a bigger problem than his sins being forgiven. He is dead spiritually. And it is only upon receiving the life of Christ, that forgiveness is imputed. It is part of the package deal of what comes when the life of Christ is received. Besides forgiveness we also receive redemption, righteousness, a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance and a new identity just to name a few.
There are some in church leadership who get that forgiveness is complete; but they are afraid to teach total forgiveness, because they think it will give people a license to sin. The fact of the matter is, people sin quite well without a license. Rom. 14:23 says: 'everything that does not come from faith is sin.' Think of all the things you do within the course of a day in which you are not exercising faith in God. The point is, all of us do a lot of sinning in just one day. However under the New Covenant; God does not hold our sins against us anymore, so why should you. Notice in Hebrews the number of times the phrase 'once and for all' is used: Heb 7:27, 9:12, and 10:10. The phrase means: One sacrifice for all sins, for all peoples, for all times. To get a more thorough understanding of forgiveness and of the New Covenant, go over chapters 7, 8, 9, and 10 of Hebrews.
The question arises: So what do I do when I do sin? Like I said before: God is now dealing with us on the issue of life and on the issue of our minds being renewed. Real change comes from our minds being renewed. Rom 12:2. When you sin, you simply thank God for the forgiveness you already have. You don't need to ask for what you already have. You pick yourself back up and start again exercising faith in the life of Christ, who is in you; and then ask him to renew your mind in that particular area of sin. For example: If you stole something, your thinking must be that God is not really going to meet your physical needs. It is not until your mind is renewed into believing that God will meet your needs, will you ever be set free from the sin of stealing.
Another question may arise: Well, if I have forgiveness, why don't I just go out and sin up a storm? Why would you want to live that way? You're still going to reap what you sow. Yea, I can't think of a better way to live than to carry the burden of quenching and grieving the Holy Spirit. God called us to freedom, not to bondage. That's what we came out of. In the book of Galatians the Apostle states now that we are in Christ, being under the law or not being under the law has no value. What counts now is faith expressing itself in love (Gal. 5:6). There is no way we can even get close to love until we come to understand the significance of forgiveness. Luke 7:7 says: "he who has been forgiven little loves little." My ability to be successful at loving others comes through the understanding of forgiveness. However much forgiveness I perceive that God has granted unto me, is the same amount of forgiveness that I will grant unto others. We are going to hold people to the same standard that we believe God is holding us to. If you believe God is holding you to the standard of the commandments, then you are certainly not going to let anyone else get away with not being held to the same standard.
The scripture in Colossians says that we are to continue to live in Christ the same way we received Christ. We received Christ by faith and we are to live in Christ by faith. If we don't have faith in the finished work of Christ; if we don't have faith that all our sins (past, present and future) have been forgiven, then there is no way to truly know overflowing thankfulness. There is no way to walk in the hope that God has called us to. Resolving the forgiveness issue is life changing. It's like being born again, again.
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