Forgiveness is Received from God

Psalm 78:32-39

There is no forgiveness of sins if God has not forgiven them.

God is Our Redeemer

Commit Yourself to Him

God is Our Redeemer

  Psalm 78:32-35, NKJV 32 In spite of this they still sinned, And did not believe in His wondrous works. 33 Therefore their days He consumed in futility, And their years in fear. 34 When He slew them, then they sought Him; And they returned and sought earnestly for God. 35 Then they remembered that God was their rock, And the Most High God their Redeemer.                         The portion of Psalm 78 that is the focus of this message is preceded by a lament of Israel’s disobedience to God over the years. The verses that precede Psalm 78:32-35 can be broken down into a couple of sections:

  • Psalm 78:1-4 is a call for the people of God to listen to what the Lord has to say, but warning them it will not be easy to hear.
  • Psalm 78:5-7 reminds the people of how God gave them His law to obey and instructions to pass it on to future generations.
  • Psalm 78:8-11 is of the failure of each generation to keep the law or pass on the law as instructed by God.
  • Psalm 78:12-16 speaks of God’s miraculous rescue of His people from Egypt and leadership in the wilderness.
  • Psalm 78:17-20 reminds the people of their constant complaining due to their lack of faith and trust in God.
  • Psalm 78:21-27 is God’s blessing upon the people even though He was angered by their lack of faith and trust in Him.
  • Psalm 78:28-31 is God revealing a measure of His wrath to help the people understand the consequences of sin.

            This is what the psalmist was inspired to write, “In spite of this they still sinned and did not believe in His wondrous works” (Psalm 78:32, NKJV). Psalm 78 is a historical psalm that was written to help teach God’s people about God’s provisions, forgiveness, justice, mercy, and patience. It also reminded the people of their history of rebellion, lack of faith, and refusal to trust God. Psalm 78:32 begins an eight verse interlude speaking about the forgiveness that God gives to people.             Forgiveness is something that only God can give to people which will impact their lives eternally (Romans 3:21-26; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 10:8-10). The forgiveness people give to one another reflects the forgiveness of God which He has supplied through Christ’s atoning sacrifice once and for all for sin. No salvation can be gained from a person forgiving another person of their sins. The purpose of forgiving others is a matter of obedience to the command of God more than benefit for the person who is forgiven by another.            

Obedience and forgiveness are interconnected. When a person has been forgiven of their sins the power of sin is broken; they are free to obey God as their new Master. The people of Israel continually failed to resist temptation and sinned against God. The Lord offered mercy and did not give vent to His full wrath because of the people’s weakness. Yet, God allowed them to suffer by experiencing the harsh judgment against sin by bringing death upon the community in a measured degree. Eventually, the whole generation of people twenty years and older who came out of Egypt in the exodus laid dead in the wilderness except for Joshua and Caleb (Numbers 14:20-25, 27:15-20).
            Forgiveness that is received from God allows people to be led out of being captive to the whims and desires of a wicked heart. Satisfying the flesh is what many of the people of Israel did rather than be willing to suffer the inconveniences of waiting upon and trusting in God’s timing and provision. God consumes those who are dead in their sins with futility and fear as long as a person remains unforgiven in their sin. They are helpless and hopelessly dead in their sins until forgiveness is received from God.      

The first fact in understanding what forgiveness is comes by learning that God alone is the One from whom all people must receive forgiveness. God taught His people, Israel, about forgiveness through judgment of their sins by slaying a whole generation in the wilderness for their continual testing of His patience by their distrust and disobedience. Forgiveness must be received from God since He is the One who has been wronged and rebelled against by all people. The need to forgive others is merely the byproduct of sin against God.             Forgiveness is easily given by one who has not been hurt or wronged. It is easy for people who are separated from the hurt to proclaim, “You must forgive if you want to be forgiven.” It is much more difficult to forgive for the one who has suffered the injury. God is the One who suffered the first offense of sin and willingly placed all sin upon His Son to provide forgiveness for those who do not deserve it. God is perfectly righteous and is without accusation of sinning against anyone, but has been sinned against by everyone. This is why God can demand, “14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15, NKJV). Christ calls His people to forgive all sins done against them in order that they can be forgiven their sins against Him.             Forgiveness is impossible unless a person has first received forgiveness for their sins from God. There are people who reject Christ who claim to forgive others, but will always have certain people or situations they will say it is impossible to forgive. God asks His people to do what He has already done for them. Once again the Lord gives the example to follow and how things ought to be done.              Therefore, beginning to understand what forgiveness is must start with comprehending from where it originates. In the same way people cannot love others unless they first receive love from God, forgiveness cannot be known or authentically given without first receiving forgiveness from God personally. The people of Israel were consumed with futility and experienced paralyzing fears because of their lack of giving the same grace and forgiveness they received from God to others. This was because they did not truly accept that they had received it from God. The people of God accepted the deliverance the Lord supplied, but had not comprehended the reason why God showed them such favor.             The great works of God will always seem strange and be quickly forgotten when they are viewed as the Lord’s periodic favor instead of an expression of His love and forgiveness in His longing to be reconciled with His creation. God had to cause His judgment to fall upon the people before they would turn to Him and earnestly seek Him out to provide stability and redemption from their sin.

            Redemption is a financial term. Saying God is our Redeemer means there has been a transaction that has taken place between an individual and God. That purchase is God buying back a person from death with the precious blood of Christ that was poured out for the forgiveness of sins. The rebellion of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden ushered into the world sin and death. All people are born into corruption. Everyone is eternally separated from their Creator, without hope, unless they receive forgiveness of their sins through the sacrifice of Christ. It was Jesus’ death upon the cross which provided atonement for sin once and for all that allows a person to access the personal, intimate relationship that once was between God and His creation (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
            Forgiveness is only experienced by those who are true children of God. Those who have received the right to become children of God and co-heirs with Jesus have believed on Him for the forgiveness of their sins (John 1:12-13). These individuals have chosen to receive that which God desired to make salvation possible by His grace rather than through the ability of people to measure up to His perfection. This allows them to know the joy and release of the weight of sin, and the refreshing of God’s Spirit within them.
            Children of God are able to forgive others of their sins against them as God has forgiven them their sins against Him. Therefore, they are able to cast away the bondage of unforgiveness so they can treat the person who wronged them without those hurts preventing them from helping the offender as if the offense never occurred. Many will say this is impossible; there is no way we can forget what has happened in the past between them and others.
            Forgiveness is not forgetfulness. Forgiveness is choosing to put away the division the offense caused as God has put away the division between He and His children. Christ has redeemed those who accept His sacrifice on their behalf from the Father’s wrath upon sin by taking their place and suffering and dying for their sin. God can and has chosen to forget past sins.
            God tells us, “25 “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25, NKJV). God also said through the Prophet Jeremiah looking to the future, “34 No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:34, NKJV). David was inspired to proclaim the completeness of God’s forgiveness when He wrote, “12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father pities his children, So the Lord pities those who fear Him. 14 For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:12-14, NKJV).
            The child of God has been redeemed from God’s wrath, having received forgiveness of their sins by God’s grace alone. No one receives forgiveness because they deserve it. Forgiveness must be received by a person in order for them to take advantage of experiencing the grace offered to them by the one who forgives. The person who never receives forgiveness from God is helpless to be able to forgive others since they themselves have not been redeemed. The struggle God’s people have with forgiveness is their lack of understanding of what forgiveness is.
            We remember our past sins; God chooses to wipe the record clean with the erasing power of Christ’s blood. We allow past sins to prevent us from accepting God’s call to service; God chooses to see Christ’s righteousness rather than the filthy rags of our righteousness. Forgiveness is received from God. Christ has provided redemption from the wrath of God and destroyed sins ability to taint how God deals with His children moving forward. This is the model He has provided so others can give forgiveness in the same manner as what they have received it.  

Commit Yourself to Him

  Psalm 78:36-39, NKJV 36 Nevertheless they flattered Him with their mouth, And they lied to Him with their tongue; 37 For their heart was not steadfast with Him, Nor were they faithful in His covenant. 38 But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, And did not destroy them. Yes, many a time He turned His anger away, And did not stir up all His wrath; 39 For He remembered that they were but flesh, A breath that passes away and does not come again.
            The lack of understanding what forgiveness is has led people to do some strange things and be in error in their beliefs. The Israelites thought of forgiveness as something that was earned through suffering for a period of time, a set term of suffering or punishment due to their wrong behavior. This is how many of the people viewed the sacrifices. Once the proper procedure of sacrifice was followed and appropriate fines were paid forgiveness would be granted to the individual.
            Today, this can be seen vividly in some practices of Christianity. The parishioner who has come and confessed their sins is given specific instructions to follow in order to have their sins forgiven. Therefore, the concept of hell is no longer eternal, but endured for a period of time until the price has been paid for the infractions which were committed. Heaven becomes a place for those who have paid their dues and satisfied the requirements so forgiveness can be granted. God is transformed from the righteous, holy, and just God He is into a corrupt judge who shows favoritism to those who earn His grace and mercy by measuring up to shifting standards that are different for every person. This is the result of believing forgiveness is anything other than given by the grace of God.
            Forgiveness only comes from God through His grace through faith, not by obedience to the law or adherence to man-made prescriptions of penitence and self-inflicted abuse. The Israelites thought of forgiveness in this way like many people subconsciously believe today which is revealed in their actions and attitudes. Flattering God with the mouth and speaking things to Him that people believe He wants to hear are not enough to have God turn away from His anger and grant forgiveness.
            God longs for people to commit their hearts to Him and be steadfast in their love toward Him. God had redeemed the people of Israel as His people based on His grace, not their performance or because they were better than all the other nations around them. Therefore, forgiveness is granted by God to those who commit themselves to Him. No one deserves to be forgiven; all deserve to be judged by their Creator and suffer eternally for their sins. Yet, God was gracious, had compassion on the people, and forgave their iniquity even though they were unfaithful to the covenant He established with them.
            Apostle Paul explained it this way in his letter to the Romans, 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
            6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation” (Romans 5:5-11, NKJV).
            The Israelites were powerless to achieve forgiveness, but God in His compassion had prepared the ultimate sacrifice for sin in His Son, the Messiah. Therefore, He forgave them instead of passing judgment upon them though they rightly should have received for their sin. Forgiveness comes by the blood of Christ which justifies the person who commits themselves to the Lord. Jesus has taken on Himself and satisfied the wrath of God for the sin once and for all. That forgiveness has brought reconciliation that no one actually deserves, but displays His attributes through forgiveness.
            God’s righteousness can be seen in His satisfying justice by giving full expression of His wrath upon Christ. God demonstrates His love by doing all of this knowing full well it will not be received by all and others will outright reject His offer of forgiveness based on His foreknowledge and history of dealing with mankind. The Lord reveals His grace by making a way for those who rebelled against Him to come into His presence to enjoy what was once lost due to mankind’s rebellion. Almighty God displays hope which is known in His steadfast consistency of character in having the standard of life set forever in Himself, and providing the way for people to be accepted in spite of their inability to measure up to that standard.
            God did become angry with His people and caused them to suffer consequences of their sins many times. Yet, it must be remembered that He, “…did not stir up all His wrath; For He remembered that they were but flesh, a breath that passes away and does not come again” (Psalm 78:38-39, NKJV). Forgiveness is received from God, but it does not mean there are no consequences of sin that will not affect us.
            Forgiveness is given by God completely regardless of whether people have a full understanding of what forgiveness is or that they been given it. The lack of accepting the reality of the forgiveness of sins through Christ has subdued the joy of the Lord; it has caused God’s people the burden of carrying around in their life guilt, regret, and the burden of grudges to weigh heavy upon them. God does not allow sin past, present, or future to change His children’s standing with Him. Christ has made complete atonement for all sin for those who are in Him. That is why there is no longer any condemnation left for those in Christ, and are no longer objects of God’s wrath (Romans 8:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10).
            There are consequences to sin which is not removed by forgiveness. David’s sin against God, in the saga with Bathsheba and his pride, caused the death of a child and violence to never depart from David’s family (2 Samuel 12:10-14). There was another time later on in David’s life when he sinned against the Lord where the Lord allowed David to choose the consequences even though the Lord had forgiven him for his sin (2 Samuel 24:10-16). It must be remembered that this is before sins had been atoned for through the shed blood of Christ. God was looking forward to the time when He would bring all sins of people forward to place upon Jesus who was the propitiation for God’s wrath upon all sin. The Lord in His grace also brought all sins of those who would live after Christ to bring upon His Son as well to be able to forgive all sin that would be committed by those yet unborn at the time of Jesus’ death.
            People must commit themselves to God’s forgiveness to experience the power to forgive others as God has forgiven them. Forgiveness is not the removal of consequences, but the freedom from the eternal wrath of God which separates people from His presence. The reality of God’s redemption through Christ is revealed most vividly and testified loudest in understanding what forgiveness is, accepting that God has indeed completely forgiven all sin, and forgiving others their sins as Christ has so graciously forgiven.
            Apostle Peter was inspired to explain it in this way, “21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:21-25, NKJV).
            What is this example Peter is talking about? There is no way we can possibly be the substitute for the sins of anyone else due to our own sinfulness. The example being spoken of here is to forgive others their sins against us in the same way God has forgiven us our sins through faith in Christ. It is to point people to the mercy and grace of God by speaking the truth in love as Jesus did. Christ has provided the example and strength in His Spirit’s presence in us to accept being wronged and hurt by others in order to show people the power of God to forgive without it being earned or owed to people because they have suffered consequences or have done penitence in their sorrow for their sin.
            Forgiveness is received from God. This is the first step in understanding what forgiveness is. Forgiveness can never be truly received or genuinely given to others without first coming to the realization that God is the One who all people have wronged, rebelled against, and caused hurt to. He is the One who has never done anything that needs to be apologized for because God is holy, righteous, and just in all that He does. There is no true understanding of forgiveness without realizing forgiveness can only be given to others in the same manner and knowledge it has been received from God.
            Misunderstanding what it means to be forgiven by God always hinders people from acknowledging the reality of receiving forgiveness from God and deliverance to others. It is crucial that God’s people know the fullness of God’s forgiveness in order to identify the lies of the enemy and avoid the false doctrines which enslave the people of God in the bondage of guilt, shame, regret, and the

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