Yesterday we introduced the concept of spiritual redemption from Ephesians 1:7. We saw that redemption provides us with forgiveness. In what three ways is this forgiveness described? First, this forgiveness is complete. The very word “forgiveness” means much more than simply to be pardoned. It is a word that means “to carry away”. Forgiveness means that God has removed our sin. He didn’t just pardon us, He took our sins from us. The Bible says as far as the east is from the west, so far he has removed our sins. In the Jewish mind, the term “as far as the east is from the west” spoke of infinity.
In the Old Testament, once a year on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) the priest would take two goats. The first he would sacrifice for the sins of Israel and take the blood of that goat into the Holy of Holies and sprinkle it on the mercy seat. The second he would lay his hands on, symbolic that he was putting on this goat, called the scapegoat, the sins of the nation. They would then lead the scapegoat far outside of the camp where it would never return symbolizing that God had removed Israel’s sins from them. When the goat had left the camp the people would break loose, I mean they would celebrate. Through the redemption of Christ, our sins have been forgiven and this forgiveness is complete. As a result, we should celebrate. Every day for those who have put their faith in Christ is a Day of Atonement…a day of celebration. We are forgiven.
Along with being complete, this forgiveness is also undeserved. It is not based on our merit or any of our works. It is according to the “riches of His grace.” Grace is God giving us what we don’t deserve. We don’t deserve forgiveness. We deserve condemnation. We don’t deserve forgiveness. We deserve hell. But God gives to us what we don’t deserve. He gives it to us by grace. Later in chapter two we will see that we are saved “by grace through faith.” Folks, listen, grace matters. It really does. Take away grace and there could be no forgiveness. Grace truly matters.
This forgiveness is also sufficient. Paul says he “lavished” this grace on us. If you read my blog this week you know that I am on a diet. I am on the “learn to live hungry” diet. I am just flat eating less. I have to. I finally got to the point this summer where my size 40 pants were very, very uncomfortable. I had to make a choice…either go up to size 42 or go on a diet. There was no way I was going to buy new pants so I opted for the “learn to live hungry” diet. It’s been almost five weeks and I have lost over ten pounds simply by eating less. But this means I can’t lavish my food the way I would like. For example, when I have ice cream, which used to be a nightly routine (right after my giant bowl of popcorn), I would lavish my ice cream with chocolate syrup. And when I had a baked potato I would lavish that baked potato with mounds of butter and sour cream. And I love mashed potatoes but I like gravy with them. When I order mashed potatoes at a restaurant I usually want there to be so much gravy that the waitress is struggling to keep the potatoes from swimming right off of the tray. I don’t just want a little gravy. I don’t just want some extra gravy. I want my potatoes lavished with gravy. Well, at least I used to.
How does this apply to God’s forgiveness? I’ll share that in my blog tomorrow.