One of the most effective tricks Satan plays on Christians is to convince us that our sins aren’t really forgiven, despite the promise of God’s Word. If we’ve received Jesus as Savior by faith and still feel uneasy about whether we have true forgiveness, that worry may have a demonic source. Demons hate it when people are delivered from their grasp, and they try to plant seeds of doubt in our minds about the reality of our salvation. In his vast arsenal of tricks, one of Satan’s biggest tools is to constantly remind us of our past transgressions. He is “the accuser” (Revelation 12:10), and he tries to use past sins to prove that God couldn’t possibly forgive or restore us. The devil’s attacks make it a real challenge for us to simply rest in the promises of God and trust His love.
To allay fear, we will look at two powerful passages of Scripture. The first is found in the book of Psalms: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). God not only forgives our sins but removes them completely from His presence. This is a profound thing! Without question, this removal of sin a difficult concept to grasp, which is why it’s so easy for us to worry and wonder about forgiveness instead of just accepting it. The key lies in giving up our doubts and our feelings of guilt and resting in God’s promises of forgiveness.
Another helpful passage is 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” What an incredible promise! God cleanses His children of their sin. All we must do is come to Him and confess our sins to Him. We will stumble in this world, but in Christ we can always find cleansing.
In Matthew 18:21–22, “Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” Peter was probably thinking that he was being generous in asking the question. Rather than repay a sin in kind, Peter suggested giving the brother some leeway, say, forgiving him up to seven times. But the eighth time, forgiveness and grace would run out. Christ challenged the rules of Peter’s suggested economy of grace by saying that forgiveness is infinite for those who are truly seeking it. Such forgiveness is only possible because of the infinite grace of God shown in the shed blood of Christ on the cross. Because of Christ’s forgiving power, we are His children, and we can always be made clean—even after a repeated sin—if we humbly seek God’s forgiveness.
At the same time, we should note that a believer will not pursue a lifestyle of habitual and continual sin (1 John 3:8–9). Paul admonishes, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5). As Christians, we do stumble, but we do not live a lifestyle of continued, unrepentant sin. All of us have weaknesses and can fall into sin, even if we don’t want to. Even the apostle Paul did what he didn’t want to do because of the sin at work in his body (Romans 7:15). Like Paul, the response of the believer is to hate the sin, repent of it, and ask for divine grace to overcome it (Romans 7:24–25). When our faith grows weak and, like Peter, we deny our Lord in word or in deed, even then there is a chance to repent and be forgiven of our sin.
Satan would have us think that there is no hope, that there is no possibility that we can be forgiven, healed, and restored. He will try to get us to feel trapped by guilt so that we do not feel worthy of God’s forgiveness any longer. But since when were we ever worthy of God’s grace? Grace is, by definition, extended to the unworthy. God loved us and chose us to be in Christ before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4–6), not because of anything we did, but “in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:12). There is no place we can go that God’s grace cannot reach, and there is no depth to which we can sink that God is no longer able to pull us out. His grace is greater than all our sin. Whether we are just starting to wander off course or we are already sinking and drowning in our sin, grace can be received.
Grace is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8). When we sin, the Spirit will convict us of sin such that a godly sorrow will result (2 Corinthians 7:10–11). He will not condemn our souls as if there is no hope, for there is no longer any condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). The Spirit’s conviction within us is a movement of love and grace. Grace is not an excuse to sin (Romans 6:1–2), and it dare not be abused. Sin must be faced honestly; it must be called “sin,” and it cannot be treated as if it were harmless or inoffensive. Unrepentant believers need to be lovingly confronted and guided to freedom, and unbelievers need to be told of their need to repent. Yet let us also emphasize the remedy, for we have been given grace upon grace (John 1:16). Grace is how we live, how we are saved, how we are sanctified, and how we will be kept and glorified. Let us receive grace when we sin by repenting and confessing our sin to God. Why live a sinful life when Christ offers to make us whole and right in the eyes of God?