By Pastor Teck Uy

Unless we are forgiven, the guilt of sin will continue to haunt and oppress us. In fact, we are deprived of God’s blessings though we spend much time in prayer. The Lord clearly said, “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean” (Isa. 1:15-16)

Unless we are able to properly deal with sin, there is little hope for us to fully enjoy life. However, the Lord’s compassion is great. He said, “Come now, let us reason together. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land” (Isa. 1:18-19). Indeed, there is hope when we are willing to repent of our sins. It is only then that we experience the blessings of being forgiven. But what does it mean to be forgiven?

Freed from the bondage of sin. Sin is a ruthless task master and all who live in sin are his slaves. But if we repent of our sins, we are set free from a heavy burden. Listen to the groaning of King David when he was struggling with sin: “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”– and you forgave the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32:3-5) Even the Lord Jesus emphasized the power of sin to enslave. He said, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. So, if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:34-36).

Restored to God. One who has been forgiven is restored back to God. There is no better example of restoration than the Parable of the Prodigal Son. When the son repented and the father forgave him, he was fully restored and became the beloved son again. The father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So, they began to celebrate” (Luke 15:22-24). His full right as a son was restored.

Gained access to God. Sin separates us from God and denies us access to him. But once forgiven, we can have access again The apostle Paul said, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb. 4:16). There is no more hesitation in approaching God because the barrier is removed. In fact, Jesus himself opened the door of access for us when he said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28)

Vindicated from the penalty of sin. When one is forgiven, his sins are no longer counted against him. He is completely exonerated and thus, can live without guilt. The apostle Paul said, “He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.” (Col 2:13-14). There are those who cannot move on in their lives due to past sins because they have not received forgiveness. Their sins continue to haunt them. It was like the brothers of Joseph who were always hounded by their past sin in selling him into Egypt. Every time they encountered difficulties in life, they would always say, “Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come upon us.” (Genesis 42:21)

Newmoulded in Christ. When we are forgiven, we have a new lease on life….we have been reshaped. We are like the clay that was in the hand of the potter that Jeremiah saw. “The pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him” (Jer. 18:4). The apostle Paul described one who is fully forgiven as a newmould or new creation. He said, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor 5:17). Hallelujah!