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Catechism Class, The Forgiveness of Sins


Catechism Class. Lord’s Day 21C Q56 – The Forgiveness of Sins.

In this lesson, we move on to a doctrine that is core to the Christian Faith – the forgiveness of sins. Our works, even our most righteous works, are as polluted as filthy rags in the sight of God, and deserve only eternal condemnation. Everything we do is sinful, because we are sinners, and those sins cannot be overlooked by God. But they can be forgiven, through God’s grace alone. So, our catechist asks us, “What do you believe concerning the forgiveness of sins?” The answer we must give is: I believe that God, because of Christ’s satisfaction, will no more remember my sins, nor my sinful nature, against which I have to struggle all my life, but will graciously grant me the righteousness of Christ, that I may never come into condemnation. So the first point we want to note is that:-

1 God is Satisfied with Christ’s Sacrifice! I believe that God, because of Christ’s satisfaction, will no more remember my sins,

LISTEN to the Podcast HERE

READ Psalm 103:1–13   God has deliberately forgotten my sins.  He has blotted them out of his memory, by providing a means for them to be forgiven. He does that because of Christ. The catechist speaks of Christ’s SATISFACTION. God is JUST, perfect justice that is found in no other.  God’s justice NEVER fails.  It sees all our sins, and weighs up our lives against God’s standards. God cannot tolerate sin in his presence, and because our sins condemn us, we must be excluded from his presence for all of eternity.  We can never pay the fine that would be needed to satisfy the divine court.  We are condemned already under the Law of God. READ John 3:17-18 17  

Only Jesus could pay for sin. In Him, God’s perfect divine justice was completely satisfied. The debt for my sins, my rebellion against God has been paid, and I am forgiven. And that forgiveness is freely granted. Here’s the words of a popular hymn… READ 2 Corinthians 5:18–21. So, God forgives our sins, out of pure mercy, and free love, on account of the intercession and satisfaction of Christ, applied by faith alone, without any works or any merits on my part.

2 Even Though My Sins are Forgiven, and Forgotten, I Still Sin! nor my sinful nature, against which I have to struggle all my life, but will graciously grant me the righteousness of Christ

Our teacher in the catechism doesn’t believe in sinless perfection. Even though my sins are forgiven, that doesn’t mean I stop sinning. Every day that I have in this life is a struggle against temptation. I will be tormented by my own pride, by self righteousness, by covetousness, by lies and sinful desires, and there will not be one single minute of life that I can relax my guard against the world, the flesh and the devil. For more help with this, carefully read Paul’s words in Rom 7:21-25. The reformers and puritans often referred to that battle as the Mortification of Sin. Think of the consequences, the practical problems that persistent sinful nature causes…

  • It means I can never trust my heart. My heart will lead me astray, it will deceive me, for it is deceitful and desperately wicked. Matthew 15:19Don’t trust your heart, your feelings, your emotional urges, doing so has led astray many’s a man or woman.  Someone might argue, “But I have a NEW HEART. It says so in Ezekiel 36:26  This is true. You do have a new heart, and new thoughts and desires. That new heart is what inclines you do what God commands, makes you sorrow deeply when you fail him, – it’s what causes you to want to repent. It’s what Paul means when he wrote, in Romans 7:19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 
  • It makes me nervous, because God knows my inward thoughts. The fact that Gods sees right down into the depths of my sinful heart should make me very nervous indeed. It would make me want the Lord to search my heart, every day, and by the help of the Holy Spirit, to reveal any unconfessed sin that lies buried there, and bring it out into the open, so I can confess it before God.
  • It makes telling someone to ‘just follow your heart’ the most dangerous lifestyle advice ever.  Don’t do it. You WILL go astray. Don’t give your subjective feelings and easily manipulated urges any role in guiding your life’s path.  Proverbs 16:25   Place your destiny and direction in the guidance and direction given by God’s objective, never changing word.  

If I have to battle against the sinful urges of my wicked heart all my life, how then can I ever come into the presence of God, either in this life, or in the life to come? Our teacher tells us that God will graciously grant me the righteousness of Christ. Let’s learn about Christ’s ACTIVE OBEDIENCE.

Not only did Jesus die the sinless death that atones for our sins, to pay the price that we could never pay, but he lived the perfect life, a life that we could never live. His perfect life, is sometimes called his ACTIVE OBEDIENCE. In his earthly life, he OBEYED & FULFILLED THE LAWS OF GOD – COMPLETELY! At the cross, that active obedience of Christ, his perfect righteousness under the law, was transferred to me, READ 2 Corinthians 5:21. Christ’s righteousness is imputed to me, it is counted as mine, and so when God looks at us, sinful human beings, with our constant failings and our daily struggles against the flesh, he sees Christ! We are clothed in HIS righteousness. We stand before God and are declared to be not guilty, not because we never sinned, but because Jesus never sinned! Let’s go back to that hymn. Finally,

3 There is no condemnation

Here’s our instructor again, “that I may never come into condemnation”

He’s just echoing the words of Jesus in John 5:24 and Paul in Romans 8:1  

So we have learned two new terms in this lesson. Our sins are forgiven and forgotten, only because Christ’s death has satisfied the demands of the unyielding perfect justice of God, and Christ’s perfect life, his active obedience, his righteousness under the law, imputed to me, enables me, a worthless sinner, to enter into the presence of God, in prayer, in communion, in praise, and one day, in glory, and for those who believe that, there is no condemnation.

© Bob McEvoy 2022

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