JUSTIFICATION and SANCTIFICATION are in Christ … because they are aspects of SALVATION, which is in Christ.

Our salvation is IN CHRIST JESUS …

  • 2 Timothy 2:10  On account of this I am enduring all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may experience the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

The FORGIVENESS of our sins is also IN CHRIST …

  • Ephesians 1:7  In him we have received · redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the rich benefits of his grace
  • Ephesians 4:32  Instead, be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.
  • Colossians 1:14  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
  • Colossians 1:22  he has now reconciled in Christ’s physical body through his death, in order to present you holy, · without blemish and beyond reproach in his sight —

Because of the unlimited scope of Christ’s death on the cross, we have received forgiveness not only for past sins but for ALL our sins, including our present and our future sins. … because ALL sins were in Christ.  NOTE:  ALL sins were were placed on Christ … so ALL sins could be forgiven in Christ … NOTE: When Christ was crucified, ALL OF OUR SINS were included among those placed on Christ … so when all sins were forgiven, our sins were forgiven too … NOTE: When Christ died, ALL of our sins were (at that time) still in the future.

God’s forgiveness eradicates our guilt … Because of the unlimited scope of Christ’s death on the cross, we have received forgiveness not only for past sins but for all sins, including present and future. After all, when Christ was crucified, ALL SINS were in the future.

Because of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, we gain immunity from eternal punishment.

  • Romans 8:1  There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

The issue is settled. Our case is closed and God will not open the file of our guilt again. The court of heaven will not judge those whose sins have been punished in Christ.


God is holy in all He is and does. One day we will fully understand His wisdom in letting us discover the cost of sin and the consequences of our willful disobedience.

The payment for our sin came at His expense. In an unparalleled act of self-sacrifice, God built a bridge of mercy and justice over the chasm of sin that separated us from Him. As Roman executioners drove nails into the hands and feet of Jesus, the Father suffered as no human father has ever suffered. When it was finished, God accepted the sacrifice of His Son as full payment for our sin. In humiliating agony, Jesus cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). As the apostle Paul said, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Justice was satisfied.

Three days later, Christ conquered death. He rose from the dead. The miracle of resurrection showed God’s acceptance of His sacrifice and laid the foundation for our justification.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul outlined how our salvation works. God is just (righteous) to justify (declare righteous) all who come to Christ in faith. He wrote:

No one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.

But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:20–26)


God’s Forgiveness is Once-For-All

  • Romans 6:10  For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
  • Hebrews 7:27  who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.
  • Hebrews 9:12  Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.  
  • Hebrews 10:10  By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once forall.


God’s Forgiveness is COMPLETE

The forgiveness God offers is comprehensive. It is complete and final—not just until the next inevitable sin.

  • Romans 4:7–8 (NKJ)  “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.” 

Paul was quoting from Psalm 32 when he wrote Romans 4 …

  • Psalm 32:1-2 (NKJ)  Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is coveredBlessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. 
  • Psalm 32:1–2 (NIV)  “Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.

Note the three terms in the verses that show the completeness of God’s mercy …

  • transgression is forgiven. The word translated “forgiven” means “to lift off, to carry away.” That is what happens to our guilt when God forgives us.  When we realize the we cannot undo our offences against God … and accept the forgiveness that only provides (and freely!), the weight of guilt is lifted from us … and we can feel God’s healing presence, resulting in an overwhelming sense of joy and gratitude.
  • sin is covered. The Greek word here means “to cover over completely, to obliterate.” When Christ died in our stead, our sins were obliterated — removed completely … forever.  Because Jesus the Christ paid the penalty for our sins, God’s promise to Israel applies to all who trust Christ …
    • I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more”. (Isaiah 43:25)
  • to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity (NIV – whose sin the Lord will never count against them).  To “impute” is to “credit” or “attribute” … So when the Bible says the Lord “does not impute iniquity” to us, it means God “does not credit/attribute our sins to us.  The NIV says “Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.”  In other words, God will NEVER count our sins against us … He will NEVER hold our sins against us.

The reason God will NEVER impute our sins to us (or hold our sins against us) is because He has charged our sins to Christ … and that means ALL our sins.  How can we know that?  We know that because God has done something else, as well … Not only has He debited sins from our accounts and credited our sins to Christ’s account … He has also credited our accounts with the righteousness of Christ.

  • Romans 3:21-26  But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

The truth about our justification is that God, by His own authority, has acquitted us … but only because Jesus Christ paid for our sins (through His life, death, and resurrection).  That said, we are still subject to the natural and legal consequences of our actions.   Our reputations, health, and relationships are still at risk if we live carelessly … but our relationship with God has been restored forever.  We can still lose potential rewards at the judgment seat of Christ … but we will never be condemned for our sin.  As Paul wrote, “Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand” (Romans 5:1–2).


In the Bible, forgiveness consistently means “to loose” or “to remove” a barrier to relationship. But different kinds of barriers and relationships may be in view.

1 God’s legal forgiveness. This is God’s once-for-all removal of all legal barriers to heaven. With the granting of this forgiveness, God acts as Judge to declare our sins paid in full. From this moment on, Christ is our Advocate. Along with His Father, He gives us legal immunity from any accusation that could separate us from the love of God (see Romans 8:28–39). We need to remember, however, that though universally available, this forgiveness is not universally applied. It is given only to those who personalize God’s mercy. Forgiveness is not effective until it is accepted.


2 God’s family forgiveness. This forgiveness occurs after we have been legally pardoned and born into the family of heaven. By His mercy, God removes the relational barriers to our closeness with Him. In this forgiveness, He acts not as a Judge but as our heavenly Father.

In one of his letters to the church in Corinth, Paul gave instructions on how believers in Christ should approach the Lord’s Supper. He told his readers to be particularly reflective regarding their walk with God, and warns that some Christians were sick or had even died because of their disobedience. “If we were more discerning with regard to ourselves,” he wrote, “we would not come under such judgment” (1 Corinthians 11:31).

When we disobey God and do not correct ourselves, He gets our attention with painful circumstances precisely because we are His children (see Hebrews 12:4–11). The discomfort of this discipline comes from a Father who loves to forget our sins when we honestly confess them and agree to place ourselves back under the control of His Spirit.

This kind of forgiveness is similar to what healthy families experience. If a son takes the family car without permission and then lies about it, his parents aren’t doing him a favor by acting as if it didn’t happen. Before driving privileges can be restored, the son must own up to his wrong and be forgiven. His status within the family is never in jeopardy (legal forgiveness), but the basis for trust has been damaged and family forgiveness is needed. This is the forgiveness in view in John’s statement to fellow members of the family of God: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

3 People-to-people forgiveness. Our forgiveness of one another is to be patterned after the way God forgives us. From His example, we learn that while our love for others needs to be unconditional, there is a place for conditional forgiveness. Whether we can consider an offense a dead issue will be determined by whether the offending party is willing to own up to the wrong. Christ-like love may make it necessary to withhold forgiveness until the one who has done the harm admits responsibility for it.


All Forgivenesses Are Not Alike!

One of the most beautiful words in any language is the word “forgive.” The word is a common one, but the essence of the word is in the last part, “give”. To for GIVE means to give someone a release from the wrong that he has done to you. It means to give up any right of retaliation.

God’s forgiveness, which must coordinate with His justice, is based upon the payment of the penalty by a substitute. Jesus Christ, His Son, paid the penalty for our sin by dying on the cross…Looking at Calvary, God is now free to forgive those who come to Him through the blood of Christ.


When God forgives He forgives completely. This kind of forgiveness is “Judicial Forgiveness”. It is one of five kinds of forgiveness in the Bible. A failure to distinguish these kinds of forgiveness causes great confusion, unnecessary guilt and needless fear.

JUDICIAL Forgiveness (The eternal forgiveness of all sins of the one who has trusted Christ. This goes with the doctrine of justification and has to do with the believer’s relationship with God. It is once-for-all, eternal forgiveness that was secured at the cross … and it is received only through faith in Christ.

The Psalmist says, “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity.” (Psalm 32:1-2). He also says, “As far as the East is from the West, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).

You can say right now, “As I have trusted Christ, all my sins past, present, and future are forgiven. God remembers my sin no more.”

  • Psalm 130:4  But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared. (NKJV) … The NET says, “But you are willing to forgive, so that you might be honored.” 
  • Acts 26:18  to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’ 
  • Ephesians 1:7  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace  
  • Colossians 1:14  in whom we have redemption [a]through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.
  • Hebrews 9:12  Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
  • Hebrews 10:17   then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” 
  • Jeremiah 31:34  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.”
  • Ephesians 2:8-9  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

PATERNAL Forgiveness (Restoration of fellowship with God the Father after the believer has broken fellowship by continued, unconfessed sin. This has to do with the believer’s fellowship with God … and it is CONDITIONAL on confession and forgiveness of others…

  • 1 John 1:9
  • John 13:4-10
  • Matthew 6:12

PERSONAL Forgiveness (Restoration of fellowship with another human being).

(a) This facet of forgiveness is so important that Jesus conditions our forgiveness and restoration to fellowship with our Heavenly Father on our willingness to forgive others.

  • Matt. 6:14-15;
  • Matthew 18:21-35;
  • Luke 6:37;
  • Colossians 3:13
  • Matthew 18:21-35
  • Ephesians 4:31-32

(b) Personal forgiveness has a vertical dimension — we must release the person to God. This can happen anywhere at anytime. Jesus taught, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven my forgive you your sins.”

  • Mark 11:25

(c) Personal forgiveness has a horizontal dimension — we must confront the offender and forgive if he repents. “So watch yourselves. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.”

  • Luke 17:3

SOCIAL forgiveness  Restoration of fellowship with society.  This may involve personal attitudes in communities or involve ministries like a prison ministry.

  • John 8:1-10

ECCLESIASTICAL Forgiveness (Restoration of fellowship with the church) … This forgiveness assumes a prior discipline by the church body and an evidence of a repentant heart on the part of the one disciplined. The purpose of discipline is restoration, and forgiveness assumes repentance and restoration.

  • 2 Corinthians 2:5-11
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15


Some Further Thoughts

  • You do not have to forget after you forgive; you may, but your forgiving can be sincere even if you remember.
  • You do not overlook people’s faults by forgiving them; you must forgive them because you do hold them to account and refuse to agree with or overlook their faults.
  • Forgiveness deals with our emotional response toward an offender. Pardon deals with the consequences of his offense. Unless we have the authority we may not be able to pardon an offense, but we can always forgive.
  • Forgiveness is a miracle of the will that moves away the heavy hindrance to fellowship, a miracle that will be fulfilled when the two estranged people come together in as fair and harmonious a new relationship as is possible at that time and under those circumstances.
  • Forgiveness offers a chance at reconciliation; it is an opportunity for a life together instead of death together. Forgiveness has creative power to move us away from a past moment of pain, to unshackle us from our endless chain of reactions, and to create a new situation in which both the wrongdoer and the wronged can begin a new way.
  • The alternative to forgiveness is, in the end, a ceaseless process of hurt, bitterness, anger, resentment and self-destruction.



Perhaps you’re struggling with the concept of God’s forgiveness. You can understand it intellectually but have trouble believing it for yourself. Let’s return to Tracy’s story. She found an emphatic response to her doubts.

It happened as she was returning home with her three boys from a pro-life rally in Washington, D.C. Her sons, ages 11, 9, and 7, all knew about her abortion. But at the rally they learned about the reality of abortion in ways they hadn’t fully considered before. During the bus ride home, her youngest son asked, “Is that what you really did, Mom?” She answered quietly, “Yes, it was.”

Her second son said, “Wow, Mom, what if that had been one of us?”

It was then that her eldest son rocked her world. “But it was,” he said.

A conversation that could have destroyed Tracy suddenly overflowed with God’s powerful grace. “It was painful, yes,” she says. “But that moment became so precious to me. My innocent children made the full reality of abortion known to me. But it was okay. I knew it was completely covered with His grace.”

Not long after that bus ride, she made this entry in her journal:

The horrible revelation of the truth at that moment pierced straight through the mother’s heart within me. An arrow full of the poison of guilt and condemnation. The full force of the ramifications of the decision I had made years earlier hit me. My great shame and failure was laid bare before my innocent children. I saw the pain in their eyes and felt it in the weight of the silence between us. But grace. The awesome power of the gift of God’s grace. Out of my spirit came the reminder that I had been washed clean by the blood of Jesus. Not merely forgiven, but I had been made to be the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.

That’s the scope of God’s love and grace. That’s the power of His forgiveness.

The Forgiveness of God


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