posted on Oct, 26 2018 @ 05:01 PM
“Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not reckon his sin” (Romans ch4 vv7-8).
The message of the New Testament centres upon what God achieved in Christ, through his death on the Cross and his Resurrection..
All this was happening “on account of our sins”, for the sake of doing something about them.
And the promised result is the forgiveness of sin.
This was foreshadowed in the teaching of Jesus.
When Jesus begins preaching in Galilee, his message is that the people should repent and “believe in the gospel” (Mark ch1 v14).
The gospel is the “good news”, showing itself at first in the healing of sickness.
But these healings are only the symbol of something much more important, namely the forgiveness of sin.
Thus he is very prompt to say to the paralysed man “Your sins are forgiven” (Mark ch2 v5).
And he declares that “all sins” (with one important exception) may be forgiven the sons of men (ch3 v28).
Our model is the “prodigal son”, who returns to his father and is welcomed with open arms. That is, he repents and he is forgiven.
In one version of the Lord’s prayer, he speaks of the forgiveness of debt. and the parable of the “unforgiving servant” builds on that
When one woman understands that her sins have been forgiven, her joy prompts her to come to Jesus at a banquet and anoint his feet, weeping with
gratitude (Luke ch7 vv44-47).
Therefore when Jesus commissions his disciples after the Resurrection, he teaches them that this message has been the whole point of the scriptures;
that following his death and resurrection, “repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations” (Luke ch28 v47).
That is exactly what the early church does, in the accounts found in Acts.
It is there in the teaching of Peter;
“Repent (and be baptised) every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (ch2 v38).
“Repent, therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out” (ch3 v19).
God exalted Christ “to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins” (ch5 v31).
“Everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (ch10 v43).
Paul’s mission is described in the same terms; “…to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light… that they may receive
forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (ch26 v18).
John offers the image of “cleansing”;
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John ch1 v9).
But this “cleansing” is a metaphor describing the fact that our consciences have been made clear;
“Baptism… now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus
Christ” (1 Peter ch3 v21).
The writer to the Hebrews also sees it as a problem of the conscience.
The fault of the old system was that “according to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot perfect the conscience of
the worshipper” (ch9 v9).
“If the worshippers had once been cleansed, they would no longer have any consciousness of sin” (ch10 v2).
How much more effectively does the blood of Christ “purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (ch9 v14).
He approvingly quotes (ch10 v17) God’s promise found in Jeremiah that “I will remember their sins and misdeeds no more”.
That is the real key. God is no longer conscious of our sin, or at least he sets aside his awareness of our sin.
“Not counting our trespasses, but pardoning our offences”, as Cranmer puts it.
If he’s not going to remember them, then we don’t need to remember them either.
When our sins are forgiven, when our iniquities are “covered” from God’s view, we are then in that state which Paul (quoting the Psalmist) calls
That is what is meant by Abraham’s condition being “reckoned righteousness”.
“Righteousness” is thus defined as having a right relationship with God, one which is not hindered by sin or the consciousness of sin.
Putting it another way, “since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (ch5 v1).
Or again, “We are reconciled to God” (ch5 v10).
So the gospel which Jesus taught, the good news of the forgiveness of sin, remains the teaching of the church.
“In Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of
reconciliation” (2 Corinthians ch5 v19).
“You who were once estranged and hostile in mind [through sin] … he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you
holy and blameless before him” (Colossians ch1 vv21-22).
In the absence of the old barrier of sin, we have entered into a new relationship with God.