How do I obtain forgiveness from God?
This final piece will deal with the final question. If you have read through the previous three articles and decided that you want or need God’s forgiveness then this is where we will discuss how to obtain it.
One of the first steps is given to us in Acts 2:
“And Peter said to them, ‘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.’”
Now, while we don’t receive the holy spirit gifts any longer - as they are not needed – the first part of this verse stands. One of the first steps to forgiveness is to be baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is, however, a step before this one, it is given us in Mark 16:
“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
The first step then is belief; there is no point in being baptised into the name of Christ if you don’t believe in him and are not willing to follow those beliefs. These two things then, belief and baptism, are the key that open the door to forgiveness.
Once we have taken this step of baptism our sins are washed away in God’s sight, as well as being shown above in Acts 2, it is also shown in Acts 22:
“And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.”
So at this point we are sin-free, ready to be saved! However, as we all know, it’s all too easy to slip back into old habits; that is, after all, our sinful human nature. The apostle Paul sums up this struggle wonderfully:
“For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.
So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.
Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.
For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”
This is a longer passage than those we have looked at before but it’s necessary to take the whole thing because it sums up perfectly the struggle with sin that every man and woman has. This struggle does not end when we are baptized but we now have a shield so that it cannot deny us being saved even though we are sinners still. That shield is the forgiveness of God.
There is still however a process that we must go through even when we are baptized to be forgiven.
- We must acknowledge that we have done wrong, it’s so easy to take the attitude of “it’s my life, I’ll do what I want” but the fact is, if you have been baptised then you must be able to recognise that you are sinful and therefore recognise when you have sinned. If we do not go to God and ask for forgiveness, then he will not forgive us.
- We must show faith, we must believe that God can forgive us otherwise again he will not help us. This can be difficult sometimes if we have done something that we consider to be particularly bad. In times like that I find Mark 9 verse 24 to be a huge comfort. I highly recommend that you read it.
- We must confess our sins to God and ask for forgiveness, not to a vicar or to someone else but to the one we want forgiveness from, we’re told this in 1 John 1 verses 9-10:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
1 John 1:9-10
This also links well to point number one about acknowledging that we have done wrong.
To conclude then, the essentials for forgiveness are to believe, to be baptised and to humble yourself before God. We have seen that he is ready and willing to forgive us if we follow the rules that he has laid down. We have also seen why he is willing to do that. Finally, we have also seen the benefits that God’s forgiveness can have to us both now and when he sends his son back to the earth.