Lesson 2: Experiencing God’s Love and Forgiveness
This is part 2 in a 4 part series – Lessons for Christian Living
It was a small thing-a driver cut you off, a classmate insulted you, your spouse forgot to pick you up-but suddenly you’re swearing and yelling. Or perhaps you find yourself tempted by other actions and attitudes, like gossip or bitterness, that take your focus off God.
These sorts of attitudes and actions are called “sin.” The word “sin” carries the idea of falling short of a target or missing the mark. When we do what we want instead of what God wants, we sin. When old habits and attitudes creep up, don’t get discouraged. You’re still God’s child. Sin, however, disrupts our closeness to God, our communication with Him. It keeps us from experiencing His love.
And we all sin, even as Christians. That’s why we all need God’s forgiveness each day.
1. The basis for God’s love and forgiveness
“Christ also suffered when he died for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners that he might bring us safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.” (1 Peter 3:18)
When Jesus died for us, He made it possible for us to have a relationship with God. His death also allows us to claim God’s forgiveness daily.
“You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all our sins. He cancelled the record that contained the charges against us. He took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross.” (Colossians 2:13-14)
When this passage was written, a “record” was an itemized list of crimes for which a prisoner had been convicted. It was nailed to the prison door. Once the sentence was served or the debt paid, the prisoner could use the cancelled record as proof he could never be tried for those crimes again.
Similarly, when we trust in Jesus’ payment for our sins, we can never be tried for them again. We have a full pardon from God.
“He has not punished us for all our sins, nor does he deal with us as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our rebellious acts as far away from us as the east is from the west.” (Psalm 103:10-12)
2. Experiencing God’s love and forgiveness daily
Although you are totally forgiven, you still need to deal with your sins day-to-day to keep a close relationship with God. You need to confess your sin.
Confession-agreeing with God about sin
“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.” (1 John 1:9)
When God brings to mind some sin in your life, confess it. Confession means
- Agreeing with God that you have sinned
- Thanking God for having already forgiven you
- Trusting God to change your wrong attitudes and actions
Instead of feeling guilty, turn away from your sin and back to God. This repentance allows you to experience God’s love and forgiveness. It restores you to a close relationship with Him.
Putting it into practice
Right now, or tonight before you go to bed:
- Ask God to reveal any sin in your life.
- List these sins on a piece of paper. Be completely honest: this is just between you and God.
- After completing your list, write over it the promise of 1 John 1:9.
- Thank God for providing forgiveness through Jesus’ death on the cross.
- Tear up the list and throw it away.
Experiencing the results
“Finally, I confessed my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, ‘I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.’ And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.” (Psalm 32:5)
What if you still feel guilty after you have confessed your sins? Count on God’s Word, the Bible-it says you’re forgiven. Don’t rely on your feelings. If you don’t confess sin, however, there’s a good reason for feeling guilty.
Suggestions for further growth
Try to spend 15 minutes or so each day, alone, getting to know God better through Bible reading and prayer. Here are some suggestions:
- If you don’t already have a Bible, see if you can get one (see Lesson 1). Meanwhile, start reading the Gospel of John.
- Read Jesus’ story of the young runaway who wasted his inheritance (Luke 15:11-32). What does this story illustrate about our relationship with God?
- Read Galatians 5:16-23. Notice how allowing God to work in your life makes a difference. As you become aware of an area of your life that displeases God, deal with it according to 1 John 1:9. You will then enjoy a renewed closeness with Him.
By continually confessing your sins to God and trusting in His forgiveness, you can experience His love and grow closer to Him daily.