Ephesians 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.
Tonight I had one of those rare times that a father longs for. I had a discussion with one of my sons about forgiveness. Questions that he had about how to receive forgiveness and how to live in forgiveness. I love how God provides these divine teachable moments in our lives where we can share some of the fresh bread we’ve been receiving from our Heavenly Father.
I’ve been pondering the idea of forgiveness. Forgiveness is one of those things that we want to experience in great abundance, but we give in scarce supply. When it comes to me… I want all the forgiveness that I can get. When it comes to you… I want you to prove to me that you deserve what little forgiveness I’m willing to give.
I have a friend who is showing me what forgiveness is on a practical level. His name is Jimmy Nicol. It’s great. He will often say, “I remember what you’ve done, but I’ve forgotten it.” It’s a simple statement, but it’s packed with theological depth and insight. I know many people who claim to be mature leaders who don’t practice this truth.
From a theological basis all forgiveness cost something. The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death.” When we sin against each other – there is a price to be paid. When we sin against God – there is a price to be paid. You can’t just say I’m sorry and it’s okay. In God’s economy it doesn’t go away. The debt has to be paid. There is no way around it. So what does God do? He pays our debt of sin – the wages of which is death – with His own life!!! That is what gives Him the right to forgive sins.
That would be awesome if that were all He does, but there is more. Paul talks about “redemption through His blood.” What is the idea of redemption? Redemption speaks of one who purchases another out of slavery. Slavery that often times was the result of someone who was sold into slavery to pay for debts that he could not pay. Slavery that resulted from sins that were committed or sins that were done by others. Slavery that resulted due to a foreign power that conquered a people. Jesus purchases us out of all forms of slavery through His sacrificial death on the cross. How amazing!!! So Jesus pays our debt of sin and pays the price to buy us out of the slavery that our sin has led us into. That is the power of the gospel.
How does he pay for all of this? According to the riches of His grace. Ponder that truth for a moment – the riches of His grace. I’ve heard a lot of definitions for grace. The most popular is getting something that you don’t deserve or the acronym – God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. The one I like the best is this one… Grace is the divine influence on the heart and it’s reflection in the life. In other words, Grace is God’s power Presence and the effect that His Presence has on our lives to deliver, heal, transform and free us. It’s God’s power focused on those unredeemed, unrepentant parts of our lives. When Paul says – by grace you have been saved – it’s not that God felt sorry for us and gave us salvation when we didn’t deserve it. It means that God, the Warrior King, the Almighty Deliverer stepped out the glory of Heaven and stepped into your life to bring His Mighty power to bear on every chain that keeps you from experiencing the joy of the salvation that He has provided for you.
This is the God who now resides in you and me. This is the God who now – according to the riches of His grace… buys you out of slavery by purchasing you with His own blood… Forgives you of your sins by paying the debt of your sin… and now gives you the power to forgive others by extending to them the forgiveness you’ve received. Now we can receive forgiveness and life free from the shame of our guilt. Now we can extend forgiveness for sins done against us and receive healing from the pain of past and present hurts. Now we can be truly free to live in real time – fully present… fully alive… not bound by the past.
Maybe it’s hard for you to forgive because you haven’t really explored the reality of the forgiveness that has been extended towards you. Maybe it’s hard for you to receive forgiveness because you don’t believe that God has already served the death penalty that was meant for you. Wherever you are in your journey – I would encourage you to spend time alone with God and to meditate on this simple verse in Ephesians. I would encourage you to ask that God would give you a greater revelation of His forgiveness towards you. That you would allow God to extend His all powerful grace into your heart and to free you to receive more of His love. I would encourage you to meditate on the cross and the price He already has paid for you. And as you do… surrender those areas of bitterness, anger, hatred, murder, anxiety or whatever it is to the Lord and see what He will do.