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UCG IA Bible Insights Thursday, November 17 2022

Forgiveness: What does God require of you?

Our human nature has a powerful compulsion to sin, but the Bible describes sin as the deadly enemy of all mankind. In order to receive God's gift of eternal life, we must completely forsake sin in our attitudes and intentions.

by John Ross Schroeder

The Bible clearly states that "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). Transgressing God’s great spiritual law is like playing with fire. True repentance is the first step of our way out of sin—putting us on the road to eternal life.

Acts 2:38 is one of the most crucial passages in the Bible. The Apostle Peter cut to the core of what God expects from us in his inspired sermon on the Day of Pentecost. He told his convicted listeners: "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." This critical passage shows two key truths: that our repentance and God's merciful forgiveness are both necessary, complementary parts of the overall salvation process.

Paul, like Peter, continually preached the importance of repentance. He testified " Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21).

He emphasized promises to turn away from sin had to be reflected in obvious good works, stating that men and women "...should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds" (Acts 26:20, NIV). Earlier John the Baptist had demanded "fruits worthy of repentance" from his listeners (Luke 3:8).

Procrastination—putting off God's clear command to repent and be baptized—gets us nowhere! We have to act on the truth God has revealed to us. God does not view sin lightly! He is deadly serious about it—hating the transgression of His law in any form. Most people do not realize God holds us accountable for our thoughts and actions that defy His righteous way of life.

When King David broke two of the Ten Commandments, the Creator asked him through Nathan the prophet: "Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes?" (2 Samuel 12:9). The shaken king responded, "I have sinned against the Lord." But notice Nathan's reply: "The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die" (verse 13). David's heartfelt repentance is detailed for us in Psalm 51. His sin was against God, but it seriously affected the lives of others. Our Creator hates what sin does to human beings—the harm it automatically and inevitably produces for anyone caught in its clutches. But God has mercifully provided us a way out of sin—at great cost to Himself.

King David expressed God's gracious nature in Psalm 103: "Praise the Lord, O my soul, . . . and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases…The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love…He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities…For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust" (verses 1-14).

Once you have truly repented of your sins, God's forgiveness is absolute, total and complete. He applies the sacrificial blood of His Son Jesus Christ to you personally. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

Repentance, water baptism and receiving God's Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38) begins a completely changed life for the true Christian. Once this bridge has been crossed, our salvation is sure—provided we keep to the path of God's law, mirrored by obedience to the Ten Commandments.