Experiencing God’s Forgiveness

Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God.
—Isaiah 59:2

Admitting your failures is the first step toward a new beginning after you’ve blown it. The second step is to experience God’s forgiveness.

You may wonder, “If God has already completely and eternally forgiven me of my sins, why do I need to experience God’s forgiveness again after I have failed?” While God’s judicial forgiveness is a once-for-all action, we still need to experience God’s ongoing parental forgiveness for our failures. Every parent and child can understand this concept. When your child disobeys you, you probably don’t immediately disinherit your child. Nevertheless, as long as your child persists in rebelling against you there will be a relational barrier between you and him. The natural guilt he feels over his disobedience makes him reluctant to spend time with you. Likewise, as long as he disregards your wishes, you will be less inclined to answer his requests or surprise him with gifts.

In the same way, when Christians rebel against God, we do not lose our position in God’s family. Once you are “born again” (the term Jesus used in John 3 to describe the result of God’s judicial forgiveness) into God’s family you cannot become “unborn.” However, our failure to obey God creates a relational barrier that creates a distance between our heavenly Father and us. Our disobedience toward God does not rob us of our position in God’s family, but it does separate us from intimacy with our heavenly Father and many of the benefits that come from Him.

How do we break down that barrier created by our disobedience and restore our relationship with God? In a word: confession. The Apostle John described the importance of parental forgiveness for a Christian when he wrote, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

We usually apply the above words to how non-Christians can receive God’s judicial forgiveness. But John’s letter was written not to unbelievers, but to Christians. Instead of denying our mistakes, it makes much more sense to confess what both God and we already know: we have failed. When you acknowledge your mistake to God, you dismantle the relational barrier that has isolated you from God. When that wall is removed, God’s forgiveness washes over you, allowing you to experience all the benefits of a restored relationship with Him.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “How Can I Know How to Start Over When I’ve Blown It?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2012.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


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