These are my notes from a sermon series I did through the gospel of Mark. It has not been proofed for spelling or grammatical errors. I present it to you as-is.
Take your Bibles and open to Mark 2 (the Scripture is also provided for you on the screen behind me, in the sermon guideline in your bulletin, and online).
Mark 2:1-12, When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. 2 Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, 3 four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. 4 They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. 5 Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.” 6 But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there thought to themselves, 7 “What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!” 8 Jesus knew immediately what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? 9 Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’? 10 So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, 11 “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” 12 And the man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers. They were all amazed and praised God, exclaiming, “We’ve never seen anything like this before!” (NLT)
This encounter with Jesus is more about the forgiveness of sins than it is about the miracle of the paralyzed man being healed and walking out of the house. This is the first time Jesus publically declares Himself doing something only God can do and by implication identifying Himself as God in the flesh.
This is the third lesson from this encounter.
- Two weeks ago we looked at six characteristics of faith that we see in the four men and the paralyzed man as they came to Jesus.
- Last week looked at several observations from the overall encounter.
- Today we are going to focus on Jesus’ statement, “Your sins are forgiven.” We are going to think about the forgiveness of God today.
The God of Forgiveness
Forgiveness is who God is! It’s His nature. That’s what He does! He is willing and ready to forgive any iniquity, any rebellion, and any sin. He is a God of forgiveness.
Let’s begin with the God of forgiveness. God is a forgiving God. That is His nature. It is who He is. God wants us to really understand this and this is one reason why this truth is repeated over and over throughout Scripture.
- Exodus 34 tells us, “The Lord passed in front of Moses, calling out, ‘Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin” (vs. 6-7, NLT).
- Nehemiah 9 tells us, “You are a God of forgiveness, gracious and merciful, slow to become angry, and rich in unfailing love” (v.17, NLT).
- Psalm 86 tells us, “O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help” (v.5, NLT).
- Daniel 9 says, “But the Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him” (v.9, NLT).
Forgiveness is who God is! That’s what He does! He is willing and ready to forgive any iniquity, any rebellion, and any sin. He is a God of forgiveness.
The Definition of God’s Forgiveness
God’s forgiveness is a deliberate and loving act of God to release you from all guilt associated with your sin.
But what is forgiveness? The Bible never gives a “dictionary” definition of forgiveness, but it shows us many examples of it. Although the following passage does not use the word forgive, it describes the concept of God forgiveness perfectly. Psalm 103:8-12, “The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. 9 He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. 10 He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. 11 For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. 12 He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west” (NLT). Forgiveness is the combination of God’s compassion, God’s mercy, God’s patience, and God’s love. When you mix all that together, you get God’s forgiveness. Let’s take a closer look at this forgiveness.
- First, God’s forgiveness is an expression of God’s love. God himself tells us in Exodus 34:7, “I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin” (NLT). Iniquity are those sins that deal with immoral or grossly unfair behavior. Rebellion are those sins that are an act of open resistance to God’s authority. Sin refers to any act of disobedience to God’s Word. This tells me that you cannot out sin or out rebel the forgiveness of God.
- Number two, God’s forgiveness is an expression of God’s grace. Nehemiah 9 tells us, “You are a God of forgiveness, gracious and merciful, slow to become angry, and rich in unfailing love” (v.17, NLT). Grace is choosing to bless someone who does not deserve the blessing. God’s forgiveness is an act of grace. You don’t deserve and you cannot earn it.
- Number three, God’s forgiveness is an expression of God’s mercy. Nehemiah 9 tells us, “You are a God of forgiveness, gracious and merciful, slow to become angry, and rich in unfailing love” (v.17, NLT). Mercy is choosing to withhold punishment that someone deserves. God’s forgiveness is an act of mercy. We deserve punishment for our iniquities, our rebellion and our sin; but God’s chooses to forgive us instead.
- Number four, God’s forgiveness is an expression of God’s generosity. In Romans 5 Paul refers to “God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through… Jesus Christ” (v.15, NLT). A gift is something voluntarily given to someone to demonstrate love or kindness toward that person. God’s forgiveness is a gift. You didn’t have to pay for it, Jesus paid for it on the cross. You didn’t have to earn it, Jesus earned on the cross. You didn’t have to search for it, God brought it to you through Jesus. Forgiveness is a gift. This is a display of God’s generosity toward you.
In short, God’s forgiveness is a deliberate and loving act of God to release you from all guilt associated with your sin.
The Need for God’s Forgiveness
You need forgiveness because you were born with sin and without forgiveness you will receive the full force of the consequences of that sin.
This brings us to the need for God’s forgiveness. Forgiveness of sins is so important because everyone is a sinner, and the consequences of sin are devastating.
- We are told in Romans 3:23, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (NLT). We are all rebellious toward God. We are all broken and we all do our own thing without God and against God. Everyone has sinned, no exceptions.
- We are told in Romans 5:12, “When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned” (NLT). When sin entered the human race it spread from one generation to the next.
It is important to note that forgiveness operates in the realm of sin. In the majority of the passages in the Bible that contain the word forgive or forgiveness, sin is mentioned.
- Colossians 1:13-14, “For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins” (NLT). You only need forgiveness where there is sin and sin is everywhere in everyone.
- Psalm 32:1, “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight!” (NLT).
- Mark 1:4, “This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven” (NLT).
You need forgiveness because you were born with sin and without forgiveness you will receive the full force of the consequences of sin.
The Price of God’s Forgiveness
God was willing to pay the price for your forgiveness with His Son Jesus Christ on the cross.
This takes us to what God was willing to do in order for you to be forgiven: This deals with the price of God’s forgiveness. God forgives sin, yet this does not mean that He simply “looks the other way” or “sweeps it under the rug.” The penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23) and the penalty must be paid (Leviticus 5:15-16). The writer of Hebrews stated, “According to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22, NLT). You may not like this or understand it, but it is the way it is.
In order for God to forgive us, Jesus gave Himself as the sacrifice for sin. Jesus alluded to that sacrifice at the last Supper when He told His disciples, “This is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many” (Matthew 26:28, NLT). Jesus was willing to pay the price for your sin so that you could experience forgiveness.
The Reception of God’s Forgiveness
There are three aspects to receiving God’s forgiveness and they all happen simultaneously.
This takes us to the reception of God’s forgiveness. How do I receive this forgiveness? There are three aspects to receiving forgiveness that you should be aware of. I don’t call these steps to forgiveness, but they aren’t really steps to forgiveness because these three aspects happen at the same time but they are involved in receiving forgiveness.
- The first aspect involves faith. Jesus was having dinner with a Pharisee. A woman approaches Jesus crying and she falls at his feet. The Bible describes her as an “immoral woman.” The Pharisee did not like this and Jesus and this man end up having a theological conversation about forgiveness. In this discussion Jesus said, “I tell you, her sins – and they are many – have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then the men at the table said among themselves, “Who is this man, that he goes around forgiving sins?” And Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (see Luke 7:36-50, NLT). Here Jesus connected faith with forgiveness. We must believe that Jesus can forgive our sins.
- The second aspect involves confession. We are told in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness” (NLT). Confession is agreeing with God about your sin. You admit the sin. For the woman her confession of her sins is seen in her actions of falling before Jesus and crying at his feet regarding her sins.
- The third aspect involves repentance. Jesus said in Luke 24:47, “There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent” (NLT). Later Peter would echo this aspect in Acts 3:19, “Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away” (NLT). To “repent” means to have a change of mind. Specifically you have a change of mind about your sins, about Jesus, and about your need for His forgiveness.
Faith, confession, and repentance all happen at the same time. They are almost synonyms of each other. You see this in the A-B-Cs of salvation: Admit you are a sinner, believe in Jesus for salvation, and confess your sins to Him. When that happens, forgiveness happens.
The Proclamation of God’s Forgiveness
Once you are forgiven of your sins and are a part of the family of God the Holy Spirit is going to work in your life to be a part of the proclamation of God’s forgiveness. You are going to want to spread this good news about Jesus and the forgiveness He brings to those in your life and around the world.
Once you are forgiven of your sins and are a part of the family of God the Holy Spirit is going to work in your life to be a part of the proclamation of God’s forgiveness. You are going to want to spread this goods about Jesus and the forgiveness He brings to those in your life and around the world.
After the resurrection, the apostles carried the message of forgiveness through Jesus Christ throughout the world.
- In Luke 24 Jesus said, “The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead the third day,47 and repentance for forgiveness of sins will be proclaimed in his name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:46-47, CSB). This incredible message of forgiveness has been proclaimed. It started in Jerusalem and has been spreading ever since. You are a part of this movement that has transformed lives for centuries and will continue to do so.
- Later Peter, in Acts 13:38 would say, “We are here to proclaim that through this man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins” (NLT). Every church that teaches the Bible is proclaiming this message. Every missionary that spreads the gospel of Jesus in tribes, villages, large cities, and apartments is proclaiming this message. Every believer, like you and me, who share the gospel with others is sharing this message.
Never get tired of proclaiming the gospel or supporting those who do. Let’s be faithful in this and dedicated to this.
The Result of God’s Forgiveness
Once you have experienced the forgiveness of God you are capable of forgiving others.
There are many results and impacts upon your life when you receive the forgiveness of your sins, but I want to mention one of them that has an impact on your relationships.
Once a person has experienced the forgiveness of God, he or she is then able (and responsible) to forgive others. Colossians 3:13 says, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (NLT).
We often hear the phrase forgive and forget, and this can be misleading. To forgive and forget does not mean that a person who has been wronged develops some kind of sanctified amnesia. A person who has been abused will never forget that it happened. A person who has suffered from an adulterous spouse will always remember that experience. A parent who has had a child abducted will probably think about that crime every day he or she spends on earth. Yet, it is possible for each of these people who have been sinned against to forgive and also to forget, as long as the biblical definition of forget is in view.
In the Bible, remembering and forgetting do not have to do with retention of information in the brain. In Genesis 8:1, after the flood, “God remembered Noah.” Does this imply that for a while God had forgotten about Noah, misplaced him among the flood waters, and then one day He remembered and thought He had better check on him? No, the biblical concept of remembering has to do with “choosing to act,” and forgetting means “refusing to act” on the basis of something. When the Bible says God “remembered” Noah, it means that God chose to act on Noah’s behalf and sent a wind to help the water recede more rapidly.
God promises, that, under the New Covenant, “I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins” (Jeremiah 31:34, NLT; cf. Hebrews 8:12; 10:17). God does not forget that people have sinned, but, when He forgives, He chooses not to act on the basis of those sins. It is similar to the sentiment expressed in 1 Corinthians 13:5 where we are told that love “keeps no record of being wronged” (NLT). In the phrase forgive and forget, the two terms are really synonyms. Both mean that the person who has forgiven will not continue to hold that sin against the wrongdoer or take into account in future interactions. A person may remember that it happened, but he or she can choose not to act on it – that is biblical forgetting and that is forgiveness.
So, when the four friends of the paralyzed man dug a hole through the roof of the house and lowered the man to Jesus and Jesus stood over him and said, “My child, your sins are forgiven” the forgiveness of God was applied to His life and His life would never be the same afterward.
Would you like for your sins to be forgiven?