A poet defined forgiveness as “the fragrance a flower gives the foot that crushes it.” Webster has “pardon, acquittal, to cancel, remit, or give up resentment against.”

Forgiveness is found only seven times in the Bible. In the Old Testament, it is only found in Psalm 130:4: “But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.”

In the New Testament, Paul preached forgiveness through the gospel: “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 13:38).

Forgiveness means we are purified.

Purification is a ceremonial term. Old Testament worship consisted of ceremonies valued by Jews. To be declared unclean because of disease, injury, or sin was a disappointment and dishonor. To later be declared pure was welcomed because it allowed participation in worship (cf. 1 Peter 3:12).

With sin, our soul is defiled (Jeremiah 2:23; cf. 2 Peter 2:20–22) and we are unable to acceptably worship God. Jesus’ blood cleanses from the filth of iniquity (1 John 1:7), makes white as snow (Isaiah 1:18), and renders one acceptable to God and able to worship (Hebrews 4:16).

Forgiveness means we are sanctified.

Sanctification is a geographic term (1 Corinthians 6:11). While sinners, we are in the world and separated from Christ (James 4:4; cf. Romans 8:6–8). When forgiven, Jesus’ blood removes us from the world and places us in His body (Hebrews 10:29; cf. Romans 12:1–2). Our sins are moved as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).

We are sanctified by:

  • God (1 Thessalonians 5:23; Jude 1),
  • Christ (Hebrews 2:11),
  • the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:16),
  • the truth (John 17:17, 19),
  • faith (Acts 28:18),
  • purging ourselves: “If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21),
  • the New Covenant (Hebrews 10:9–10), and
  • the blood of the covenant (Hebrews 10:29; 13:12).

Sanctify (hagiazo) means “to make holy, ceremonially purify.” The noun form is “saint” (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:2). We are to “sanctify the Lord God in [our] hearts” (1 Peter 3:15). The church is sanctified by Christ: “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25–27). Our food can be “sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:5). In a different sense, an unbelieving mate can be sanctified by a believing spouse (1 Corinthians 7:14). Jesus was sanctified by God (John 10:36), and Himself (John 17:19).

Forgiveness means we are justified.

Justification is a judicial term. With sin, we are guilt-ridden (James 2:10). In forgiveness, Jesus’ blood removes our guilt and releases us from the penalty of sin (Romans 3:24, 26; 5:9; Hebrews 8:12; Ezekiel 18:20; Matthew 26:28). Once forgiven, Satan cannot find anything in the files to indict us. In the eyes of the law, the penalty has been paid. “By him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:38–39).

Forgiveness means we are redeemed.

Redemption is a status term. In the Roman world of a hundred million citizens, sixty million was slaves. Sinners are enslaved to their actions and addictions, but Jesus sets them free. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7). This word means “to release a prisoner by the payment of a ransom.” By His death and resurrection, Jesus met the holy demands of God’s Law. The ransom has been paid on Calvary, and through faith in Christ, we have been set free.

He delivered us (Colossians 1:13). Delivered means “rescued from danger.” Man could not deliver himself from the guilt and penalty of sin (Proverbs 14:12). Moses and the Israelites shed a lamb’s blood to be delivered from Egypt (Exodus 12). Jesus shed His blood to deliver us from sin.

He translated us (Colossians 1:13). Translated described the deportation of a population from one country to another. History records that Antiochus the Great transported two thousand Jews from Babylonia to Colossae. Earthly rulers transported the defeated, but Christ transports the winners. Jesus did not release us from bondage, only to have us wander aimlessly. The phrase “His dear Son” could be translated “the Son of His love.” At Jesus’ baptism and transfiguration, the Father declared that Jesus was His “beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17; 17:5). Israel journeyed from slavery in Egypt to freedom in Canaan illustrates this spiritual experience.

A New Leaf

He came to my desk with quivering lip—
The lesson was done.
“Dear Teacher, I want a new leaf,” he said,
“I have spoiled this one.”

I took the old leaf, stained and blotted,
And gave him a new one, all unspotted,
And into his sad eyes smiled,
“Do better, now, my child.”

I went to the throne with a quivering soul—
The old life was done.
“Dear Father, hast thou a new leaf for me?
I have spoiled this one.”

He took the old leaf, stained and blotted,
And gave me a new one, all unspotted,
And into my sad heart smiled,
“Do better, now, my child.”

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