In our Lutheran worship service each week, we confess our sins and the pastor announces that we are forgiven. Notice the word in bold, announces? This means we are not forgiven at that moment, we are not forgiven because of our confession, we are already forgiven. This segment in the service is to remind us that the work of atonement has already been done. Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we have been forgiven once and for all–for every sin–those we committed last week, last year and even the ones we will commit next year. As Jesus said on the cross, “it is finished.” John 19:30
It took me a long time to get this. It makes more sense to think that we have to somehow make up for our sins, even if that only means acknowledging them and feeling remorseful. The author of Hebrews tells a different story in Chapter 10:
“Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest (Jesus) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool , because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:
‘This is the covenant I will make with them, after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.’
Then he adds:
‘Their sins and lawless acts, I will remember no more.’
And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.” Hebrews 10:11-18
It’s hard to grasp, but think about it. No further sacrifice is necessary: not by you or anyone else. We’ve been handed a get out of jail free card that never expires. What grace and freedom we have in the faith! Any sacrifices we make, are not sacrifices for sin, but thank offerings, in gratitude for the forgiveness Jesus has given us. The old system has been replaced. We live under grace, not law.
How does this make you feel? Please send us your thoughts and comments.