Every person in the world offends someone, sometime, somewhere. When that happens we owe an apology to the one whom we have wronged. That apology is actually a plea to be forgiven by the other person. To be forgiven of some wrong is a great relief to one’s mind and spirit. Otherwise we feel a sense of sorrow for not being on good terms with the person under consideration.
When God created man he endowed him with an inner quality called “conscience.” It is that part of us that causes us to feel guilt when we have done something wrong. Sometimes we hear the expression, “he has a guilty conscience.” What is meant by that is simply this: As human beings, we have the capacity to know right from wrong. And when we do wrong instead of doing right, our conscience tells us.
When considering our relationship with God, we have all done things wrong. Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” That leaves us with a guilty conscience before God, and the need to be forgiven. When we admit to God that we have made mistakes, he forgives us and promises to remember it against us no more. In the Old Testament book of Isaiah we find a beautiful thought in chapter one and verse eighteen. It says: “Come now and let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow, and though they be red like crimson they shall be as white as snow.” In the olden times of Bible history, wool was used for making garments. The material was often colored with crimson and scarlet dyes. These were the most difficult of all colors to remove from a piece of cloth. So, what God is saying to us through Isaiah, the prophet, is that no matter how bad our sin may be, God can cleanse us and make us as clean as before. So we can be forgiven of whatever wrong we have done and never have to deal with it again.
A good example of one being forgiven is that of David who was king of ancient Israel in about 950 B.C. He had done wrong by having sexual relations with someone else’s wife. When the news spread he was made very sorrowful for what he had done and pleaded to God for forgiveness. (Psalms 51) And then when he had been forgiven, he expressed thanks to God for lifting the burden of guilt from his heart. (Psalms 32)
Another good example of forgiveness is that of Jesus hanging on the cross. Two thieves were crucified with Jesus. One expressed faith in Jesus and was promised hope that he could be with Jesus in paradise. He was forgiven. Also, even while dying on the cross, Jesus asked God to forgive his executioners.
Even though we may be forgiven for doing some wrong against another person, only God can offer us eternal forgiveness from sin. He did this through the sacrifice of his son, Jesus, upon the cross. The Bible says that Jesus paid our debt of guilt so that we could have a right relationship with God again. (II Cor. 5:21)
What a wonderful feeling it is to be forgiven of something you know that you have done wrong. It lifts the spirit and gives one hope again. This is why it is so important for us to admit to God that we have sinned and need his forgiveness. Like David of long ago, when we do so, we are refreshed and renewed.
Please remember that forgiveness takes place in the mind of God, whereas repentance takes place in the heart of the sinner. One complements the other.