In the next few editorials we are going to take a look at some simple things, which, when you actually stop and take a few moments to think about, you realize how deep they really are, and how important they are to us as Christian young people. We will take into account words of God spoken to us in Scripture: phrases we just read over because of their absolute straightforwardness.
In our consideration this time of the forgiveness of sins we have in Christ, we will refer to one of the times Jesus was preaching in Capernaum. This account can be found in Matthew 9:1-8, Mark 2:1-12, and also in Luke 5:17-26. In these accounts, Jesus is preaching to a crowd of Pharisees and teachers who had traveled from the surrounding area to hear him. At this time, friends of a paralytic man were trying to reach Jesus, carrying him on his bed. When they could not get to Jesus because of the press of the crowd, they took the tiles off the roof of the house he was in. They let the man down through the roof in front of Jesus. Jesus, seeing their complete confidence in him to heal their friend, said to the man who was sick of the palsy, “Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.” The Pharisees began talking among themselves, accusing Jesus of blasphemy, saying, “Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” Jesus knew their thoughts and said, “Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.” (Luke 5:23, 24)
The Pharisees were questioning Jesus’ power to forgive sins. They had the earthly manifestation of God, in the likeness of his own Son, standing right before them. God in flesh was standing before them, had healed the paralytic, and told him his sins were forgiven. We might say, How foolish they were that they could not see that! How stubborn and blind were they! Surely the Pharisees had heard accounts of the amazing miracles Jesus had been performing throughout the land. Some of them had probably even witnessed some of them. They knew what Jesus had done and was capable of doing. But yet they denied the deity of Christ and all that he represented.
We need to stop and consider something for a moment. We need to look at ourselves. Would we be among the Pharisees who were denying God’s sovereign power, or would we be among those others who were praising God for what he had done? How often do we actually slow down enough in our lives to consider the wonder of forgiveness? We as undeserving sinners have been fully pardoned for all our sins. Say it to yourself: “ I am forgiven. I am forgiven. I am forgiven!” Say it until you realize the amazing wonder that Christ would take upon himself the burden of all our sin and guilt and willingly give himself on the cross as the one sacrifice to pardon us all. Payment was required, and God sacrificed his only begotten Son in order to make that payment. Christ’s death was necessary. Important also was that Christ died on a cross. In order to bear the full force of God’s eternal and just wrath against all our sins, Jesus had to become accursed of God. Death upon a cross was accursed of God. Galatians 3:13 states, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” Christ became accursed so that we did not have to. What a sacrifice! What a selfless act of love for his bride, the church!
It is imperative now that we address the importance of repentance, a true heartfelt repentance. In order fully to understand and enjoy the gift of forgiveness, we need to have an understanding of the enormity of our sins and the guilt they incur. Once we fully acknowledge our sins, we hit our knees on the floor in true sorrow for them. We get on our knees in prayer and confess our sins to our heavenly Father. We must pray from the inmost depths of our hearts to God, who alone can forgive us. While looking through the Beacon Lights archives, I stumbled on a poem in the March 1986 issue titled, Do I Ever Pray? I share with you the first verse. “I often say my prayers/ But do I ever pray? / And do the wishes of my heart / Go with the words I say?” Many of you may have quotations from various people throughout history stuck to the front of your refrigerator. I think this poem is fridge-worthy. I urge you to print it out and hang it on your refrigerator, tape it to your bedroom door, or use it as a bookmark in your Bible so you see it every time you have personal devotions. Given our human nature, it is very easy for us to not be in a proper mindset for prayer. When we are not in the proper mindset for prayer, we are not truly talking to God from our hearts. We need to remind ourselves constantly of our weakness and the need of sincerity in our prayer life.
What then is our response to this undeserved forgiveness of our sins? What else can our response be but the same as that of the man who was healed? All glory be given to God. All praise to him who would choose us, wretched sinners that we are, to be his people. We can safely assume that the paralytic man, in his glorifying God, was not praising God only because he was healed, but because Jesus told him his sins were forgiven. Wonder of all wonders! What else could he and we with him do but praise our just and merciful God?
Jesus paid it. He paid it all! For us! Be thinking of this always.