Summary: This is a series gleaned from R.C. Sprouls book by the same title. This section deals with forgiveness. Does the Blood of Jesus wash away all our sins?
Confession, Forgiveness and cleansing
Ps 103 and 1 John 1:9ff
The reason we have such a struggle believing that God loves us is we are all Pelagians at heart. Pelagius (ca. AD 354 – ca. AD 420/440) was an ascetic who opposed the idea of predestination and asserted a strong version of the doctrine of free will. He was accused by Augustine of Hippo and others of denying the need for divine aid in performing good works. For him (according to them), the only grace necessary was the declaration of the law; humans were not wounded by Adam's sin and were perfectly able to fulfill the law apart from any divine aid. He denied the more specific doctrine of original sin as developed by Augustine. Pelagius was declared a heretic by the Council of Carthage. His interpretation of a doctrine of free will became known as Pelagianism. He was well educated, fluent in both Greek and Latin, and learned in theology. He spent time as an ascetic, focusing on practical asceticism, which his teachings clearly reflect. He was certainly well known in Rome, both for the harsh asceticism of his public life as well as the power and persuasiveness of his speech. His reputation in Rome earned him praise early in his career even from such pillars of the Church as Augustine, who referred to him as a "saintly man." However, he was later accused of lying about his own teachings in order to avoid public condemnation. Most of his later life was spent defending his doctrine against Catholic theologians who held that Catholicism came from the apostles and that Pelagius was spreading novelties in the Faith unknown to the apostolic tradition.
Asceticism is the denial of worldly pleasures in order to achieve holiness.
At heart the world does not accept God’s sovereign authority, therefore the world does not accept obedience or adherence to God’s word. Pelagius states that God could only command, morally speaking, only that which we have the ability to do, that God would be unjust to command us to do something we are not able to do. He believed we have the ability and the capacity to keep the Law.
However, scripture reminds us that we have all sinned (Romans 3:23), that every inclination of our heart, apart from Christ, is evil (Gen 6:5). It is this inclination that we believe we can earn God’s favor. We, in the dark recesses of our minds believe that we can merit God’s grace. It is our religiosity that screams out we deserve God’s grace because of what we do. We believe that we missed the mark, but we foolishly believe we did not miss it by much. We think because we are close enough that we will be good enough. Yet we miss the mark because we while we know we need Grace, we foolishly think we can earn it.
We are not worthy and we have all fallen short. To get the idea, imagine a trapeze artist, how much does he have to miss the swing to fall?
Where sin is denied, truth is absent (1John 1:8). This is a surefire sign to tell us whether we are a Christian or not. IF we deny we have sinned, the truth is not in us. If we say we have not sinned we make God to be a liar. If we call God a liar, the Spirit of God is not in us, therefore how can we say we are saved?
Therefore we must first come to the conclusion that we are sinners, we have all sinned, no one is exempt, no one is a worse sinner than anyone else, and everyone has fallen short, whether by a centimeter or a mile, and everyone is going to Hell, unless they come to God for forgiveness.
Jesus lays this out for us in the parable of Luke 18:9ff
Some of us think we are okay, we are sinners, but not as bad as others and because we are religious we think God owes us forgiveness.
1. The Pharisee confesses his sin almost, but measures himself by others and then explains that he is okay because of his religiosity.
2. The tax collector does not lift his eyes, but beats his breast, saying Lord have mercy on me a sinner.
Jesus tells us the second went home justified. Why, because he knew he did not deserve mercy, but pleaded for it. WE sometimes are like that Pharisee, we confess we are sinners but immediately bring out the list of good things we have done. But Jesus tells us it is the humble, the contrite, not the religious who are forgiven. Therefore if we come humble and contrite, God forgives cleanly.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.