Forgiveness: Squeezed Out Stingily or Overflowing?

“In Him [Jesus] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He has lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” Ephesians 1:7-8

One of the biggest sources of conflict in a home is squabbling over the toothpaste. One person layers it on the brush just like we see in the commercials. Another person lectures that such a use is a waste and makes one look like a rabid dog with its muzzle covered in foam. Being rather cheap with my toothpaste, I side with the second and squeeze stingily a squib of paste onto the head of the brush.

Is God like me? Does God extend forgiveness begrudgingly, squeezing out just enough to take care of our latest offense? We tend to feel that way. We think God is like us, regarding forgiveness.

Perhaps God is like so many of us who say, “I forgive you, but don’t let it happen again”? Some of us don’t even go that far at first. We assign somebody to the “dog house” to serve out a sentence of silence until we feel that he or she has paid the suitable penalty for the offense committed. Then we might let somebody out of the dog house, but we keep him or her on a short leash, waiting for the next offense, don’t we?

Is that what God is like?

Not according to the above verse. Here we are given the measure of our forgiveness: it is “in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us…”! Our forgiveness matches the outpouring of God’s grace. And how much is God’s grace toward us? Remember, it is not stingy. It is not skimpy. It is LAVISHED upon us!! It is overflowing like a scrumptious cream pie or a lemonade pie with the meringue piled high on top. It is extravagant!! With God’s forgiveness, our sins are swept away like driftwood caught in a flash flood, like fall leaves caught in a high wind.

How can this be? I am a sinner. I sin every day. How can God give such a blanket forgiveness. To understand this, look at what verse 7 says at the very beginning of the verse… We have redemption and forgiveness “IN HIM.”

When a person becomes a believer in Jesus, trusting in His death for eternal life, the Bible tells us that dozens of things happened instantaneously. One is that our sin is removed from us completely. The Old Testament gives us two word pictures for this. It says that our sins have been removed as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12) and God has cast our sins in the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19).

Furthermore, we are instantaneously baptized into Christ’s body, by the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12: 13) Literally, the Greek for baptized means “placed into.” This means that we are picked up supernaturally by the Holy Spirit and placed INTO CHRIST. Picture the Holy Spirit slipping you into the body of Jesus Christ.

Our sin is removed and now God relates to us as freely as He would relate to Jesus! Let that seep into your consciousness for a moment. God now relates to every believer as if that he or she is Jesus, the Son of God Himself! That’s why we can draw near to the throne of grace with confidence. We can approach the King as if we were the King’s Son Himself!

Another reason why our forgiveness is so extensive is because Christ’s blood was such a complete payment for our sin. In Hebrews 9 & 10, God says that the sacrifice of Jesus was a perfect once and for all sacrifice able to make believers perfect forever. (Hebrews 10:14) And, 1 John 1:7 tells us that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from ALL sin.

This is incredible news, such great news that we can hardly bring ourselves to believe it. It is so different from our every day relationships that we have nothing with which to compare it. For most of us, we still picture God like an angry teacher pacing the aisles of the classroom looking to catch a trouble-making student. We flinch as she walks past, her punishing ruler tucked under one arm waiting to wallop the unlucky offender.

But we need to shatter this picture with God’s truth. In His overflowing grace, God has provided the forgiveness and cleansing that each human being needs. God longs to be friends with us. That was His original plan—loving fellowship with humans created in the image of God. Through Jesus, God created the way back to Him. At the cross, all the sins of humankind were placed on Jesus and God poured out the full punishment for those sins onto His beloved son, Jesus. (Isaiah 53:5)

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1 NIV) Gone is the scowling teacher prowling the aisle to punish us. Rather God relates to us as if we were the “teacher’s pet.” In Christ Jesus, we are His favorite student.

Our forgiveness is not begrudgingly squeezed out but poured out according to the measure of God’s overflowing grace. This forgiveness is available to all who will believe in Jesus.

If you have already decided to place your trust in the rich blood of Jesus, then rest and rejoice in the forgiveness that is yours. Stop trying to earn it over and over. Stop punishing yourself every time you fail and sin, hoping to shorten the time you must spend in the dog house.

What would you do if you were walking out to your car in the parking lot and tripped on a pothole and fell? Would you lie on the ground and lecture yourself over how stupid you were to miss this pothole? Would you beat yourself up over the fact that you didn’t know how to walk? No, of course not! How silly!

Yet we often do this when we fail in our spiritual lives. We beat ourselves up. We launch into lectures over what we did wrong. What would God have us do instead?

He says, “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sin and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NIV) To confess means to “agree with.” God wants you to agree with Him regarding your sin: 1) Admit ______ was a sin and stop making excuses for it. (You fill in the blank with your sin.) 2) Agree that your sin is somehow destructive and contrary to God’s best for your life, and 3) Be willing to do whatever it takes to put that sin out of your life. As you confess in this way, you will experience the forgiveness of God that has already been poured out through Christ’s blood.

If you have not yet trusted in Christ as your Savior, today is a good day to do that. We all long for forgiveness. The gift of forgiveness is a foreign thing to most religions and most relationships. Such forgiveness as has been described here is only found in Jesus Christ. Many people struggle with this. They think that they could still, somehow, make up for the bad things they have done and become acceptable to God. They can somehow pay for their own sins.

God encourages you to come to Him. You could never do enough and all that needs to be done has been done for you by the Lover of your soul. Colossians 2:13 tells us, “He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code (God’s laws like the Ten Commandments) that was against us and stood opposed to us, nailing it to the cross.” (In their day, they nailed the charges against a criminal over his head when he was crucified.) The charges against us have been nailed over Jesus’ head and were fully paid for.

Let us rest in the work of Jesus and enjoy the lavish forgiveness from God according to the measure of His amazing grace!

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