Sometimes I think the apostle Paul stole a page from my journal when he said, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst" (1 Timothy 1:15). Does anyone else resonate with that line?
What surprises me the most is not the severity of my sin, but God's eagerness to forgive. Here are five truths about God's forgiveness that constantly surprise me.
1. When God forgives, He treats me as though my sin never happened. “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross” Colossians 2:13-14.
Yes, I was guilty. Yes, I deserved to be punished, but God forgives. He took my sin and nailed it to the cross. He completely forgave the debt I owed him. It's gone. He won't wave it in my face or bring up the past. In God's eyes, it's over. It's as though my sin never occurred.
2. Being forgiven is who I am. It is not something I need to maintain."There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus our Lord" Romans 8:1.
Jesus' work on the cross was final and perfect. There was nothing I could do to earn forgiveness and there's nothing I can do to maintain it. Being forgiven is just something I am.
3. God's forgiveness is final."For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." Jeremiah 31:34
Did you know there isn't anything a Christian can do in the future to cause God to change his mind? He will not "unforgive" me. He can't. It's just not in his nature to do so. His choice to forgive was the final word and the final answer.
4. Jesus died for my future sins too. "For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God." 1 Peter 3:18
It's easy to understand that Jesus forgave my past sins. But if Jesus' sacrifice on the cross was complete, then it also covers future sins--the ones I haven't even thought of yet. I will never sin so badly that Jesus' timeless forgiveness can not cover me.
5. Forgiveness is possible. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" 1 John 1:9
Perhaps this fact is the most mind blowing of all. Even though God is perfect and holy, he is willing--even eager--to forgive. If I face my sins and see them as ugly as they are, seek his forgiveness, he promises to forgive. He'll do the same for you.