Summary: Knowing who we are in Christ is vital. Without it, we can be confused, lost, and have no meaning and purpose in our lives, and therefore, fail to accomplish God's plans for us. This is the third sermon series on "Our Identity in Christ."
Who are you? What I am asking requires more than your name, address, nationality, origin, gender, family, or occupation. Many people cannot answer this question correctly. Understanding who we are is vital. That is why today, we will continue our sermon series about the importance of having a right self-identity or who we are in Christ. We have discussed the first: I am a human being (not an animal) created in the image of God. Second: I am a sinner who needs the forgiveness of God. Today we will continue with the third: I have been forgiven and loved by God.
The word of God says that if we truly repent, confess our sins and ask God for forgiveness, then He will forgive all our sins (1 John 1:9). One proof of this truth is when one of the criminals, who was crucified with Jesus, repented. Let us read Luke 23:42-43 - "Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
If you have repented and asked God for the forgiveness of sins through the Lord Jesus, then you must believe that God has forgiven your sins. Satan loves to terrorize us with guilt, reminding us of past sins, whether sexual sins, lies, irresponsibility, crime, abortion, even for some people, murder. In 2007, Dr. James Dobson interviewed rapist and serial killer Ted Bundy, hours before he was executed by electric shock. His addiction to hardcore pornography has sparked and crystallized his murderous sexual fantasies leading to numerous sex crimes and gruesome murders. Between 1974 and 1978, he raped and murdered at least 29 young women across America. While he was in prison, Bundy became a born-again Christian. He told Dr. Dobson how he felt ashamed and sorry for what he had done. Bundy realized that he deserved death and that it was a fair punishment. Yet he has found forgiveness for his sins through Jesus Christ and peace as he faced the "Valley of the Shadow of Death."
Did God forgive Ted Bandy's sins? If he really repents, yes. Some people think, “Wow, how come? He had killed a lot of peoples! How could he get to heaven? It doesn’t make sense!” It is really hard for us to understand why people like Bundy are forgiven if they really repent and ask God’s forgiveness. The Bible calls it “God’s grace and mercy.” But remember, that can happen because His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus, came as a human and died on the cross bearing the sins of mankind. Therefore, Bundy was forgiven of his sins, because the Lord Jesus, who loved him, had replaced his sentence on the cross. God also loves you. If you confess your sins, whatever, He will also forgive you!
In 1 Timothy 1:15, the apostle Paul says, "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst." As you know, before he met Jesus Christ on his trip to Damascus, he hated Him and His followers. He tried to wipe out Christians everywhere by arresting and persecuting them. He supported the Jews who killed Stephen. But by the grace of God, he was saved. God forgave his sins, even used him to preach the gospel to the Jewish and non-Jewish peoples. In 1 Corinthians 15:10, he says, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me."
Now the love of God and His forgiveness are being offered to you too. No matter what mistakes or sins you have committed in the past, God loves you. His love is not based on your goodness or circumstances nor on what you have done or not done. But based on His character. Apostle John states that God is love! (1 John 4:8).
Some people find it difficult to accept the truth of this word of God. They find it hard to believe that God loves them. In counseling ministries, I saw peoples who had been sexually abused, raped, rejected, and abandoned by their parents often question: “If God loved me, why He let that happened to me? Why didn't He help me when I prayed, crying out to Him for help?" I do not understand why some people get help from God when they face danger, but some do not. It is a mystery of life. However, we must know that the love of God is not determined by whether He answers our prayers or not, whether we feel it or not. Like the sun, we cannot see it at night and when the weather is bad or during the hurricane. But we know that the sun is always there.