We need to be forgiven by God in order to be saved. Jesus’ blood is the only way for this to happen. We must humble ourselves and forgive others in order to receive forgiveness. Will you accept God’s forgiveness? This is good teaching for those who are struggling to understand forgiveness.

Are you forgiven? Your eternal future depends on the answer to this serious question. The Bible teaches us that “there is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). Verse 23 of the same chapter states, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” We must find God’s forgiveness if we want to be saved from the consequences of sin. Someday we will meet the Lord in judgment. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). We are facing eternity, and this makes it imperative that we know if we are forgiven. If forgiven, we will be accepted into heaven. If not forgiven, we will be sentenced to eternal hell with the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:31-34, 41).

Forgiveness Through Christ’s Blood

So, what can we do to save our soul? We cannot save ourselves, but we can accept the plan that God has provided for us. It will help us to understand this plan when we consider what He showed to His people, the Israelites, before Christ came. God told them to sacrifice animals. The lambs that were slain pointed toward the perfect Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, who would redeem all people by shedding His blood for their sins. The shedding of blood also helped the people understand the seriousness of sin. Ephesians 1:7 says, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.”

“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things… But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19). Our forgiveness comes through Christ’s death and the spilling of His blood for the sins of man (Hebrews 9:22).

Complete text of: Forgiveness

Let us take note that, because of our sins, we would be worthy of eternal death. But because of His love and mercy toward us, Jesus died in our stead, so we can be forgiven and our transgressions covered.

Unforgiveness Brings Bondage

When we experience Christ’s gracious forgiveness, we receive peace. To retain this peace, it is necessary to forgive others. Christ tells us in Matthew 6:14-15, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Jesus told a story that teaches us about the perils of unforgiveness. The story was about a king who wanted to check his servants’ accounts. He found that he had a servant who owed him a very large sum of money, equal to many years’ wages. The king told the servant that he, his family, and all his possessions would have to be sold. The servant begged for mercy and the king forgave him of his debt. This servant later found one of his fellow servants who owed him a small sum, about a day’s wages. He told his fellow servant that he would have to pay in full. His fellow servant begged for mercy, but the servant would not forgive the debt. When the king heard of this, he called his servant to him. He said, “I forgave you when you asked me. Should you not have done the same?” The king then sent him to prison until the debt could be paid. Jesus then said that our Heavenly Father will not forgive us if we do not forgive others. (Matthew 18:23-35)

Hating someone, holding an offense, or harboring a grudge causes many negative effects. The person who allows such attitudes in his life becomes miserable. His health suffers, as do his relationships.

When we don’t forgive others, it brings about a bondage to our souls that could be compared to being enslaved by people or bound by a substance addiction. This unforgiveness causes a bitterness within us. It locks in sorrow, anger, and strife; it locks out joy, love, and fellowship. This bitterness is a result of a proud spirit that seeks to keep score and gain revenge for perceived and real wrongs. If we refuse to release our offended feelings, they will eventually control us. We will be in bondage to them as well as in the bondage of sin before God.

Unconditional Forgiveness

Jesus taught that the only way for us to grant forgiveness to others is in the way He has forgiven us. We are to forgive regardless of the nature or gravity of the offense against us, the number of offenses, or the character of the offender. We are to show unconditional mercy as God has shown mercy to us. As we humble ourselves and extend forgiveness to others, God opens the way for us to seek forgiveness for our own mistakes and sins. God fully forgives all who come to Him with a humble and repentant spirit.

As we follow the Holy Spirit, we will know the truth, and the truth will make us free (John 8:32). Verse 36 says, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”

“To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts” (Hebrews 3:15). In Matthew 11:28, Jesus said, “Come unto me... and I will give you rest.” As we follow these teachings, we will be forgiven and will be able to forgive others.

Coming to God

Now the question is, how do we come to God? The answer is in the Bible. “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44). God, through His Holy Spirit, makes us aware that we are sinners and in need of a Savior. Sometimes we don’t fully understand God’s call. We may begin to notice an empty, lonely feeling in our heart—a need of something, a feeling we are not right, a conviction we are lost.

When we become aware of this restlessness in our spirit, we need to open our heart to God for direction. The load of sin will become very heavy, and our heart will become remorseful because of our past sinful life. God wants us to surrender our life to Him in true repentance. When God sees our broken and contrite heart and our readiness to fully do His will, He forgives our past sinful life, and we receive forgiveness and peace (Psalm 34:18; Psalm 51:16-17). Oh, how happy we now are, and we want to share with others what Christ has done in our heart!

This freedom is not something that comes through human reasoning. It is a work of the Holy Spirit in the heart that converts us to a new life. Through this power of the Holy Spirit, we have faith to trust God so we can lay down our own will and forgive others. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

The Bible way of forgiveness is beautiful. A trusting faith in the sacrifice of Jesus, coupled with a complete surrender to God and His will, removes the guilt from our heart. Our sins are completely covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. The forgiveness that God gives to us takes away our offenses and hurts. He wipes the slate clean and forgets our sins, “And their iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 8:12). What a wonderful freedom we can experience when God forgives our sins and we can forgive our fellow man. You too can experience this in your heart and life. Come to the Lord today!

The Powers of Darkness

Recognizing Satan's Tactics in the Light of God's Word

The intent of the Holy Bible is not to focus on Satan and his work. However, we do find much in the Bible that exposes his character and works.

Satan was at one time an angel, but he turned against God, his creator, and wanted to be like Him. The practices of the dark kingdom of Satan are not new. They are typical of his efforts through the ages to rival the kingdom of God. He is offering an alternative to what God, through the power of His Holy Spirit, is accomplishing.

We read in Exodus of the power of the magicians of Egypt who tried to reproduce the miracles that God did by the hand of Moses. In the book of Job, Satan is exposed as very jealous of Job's faithfulness to God. He used cruelty and deprivation to try to force Job to turn from God.

Satan's methods are characterized by: fear, threats, promises of pleasure or power, intimidation, and suspicion. Some of the first things he introduces to us seem very interesting and intriguing. He suggests, "Would you like to know the future or have insight that others are not able to have?" He may offer cures that are beyond the realm of science. Astrology or fortunetelling may seem innocent enough, but this is soon followed with certain magic words or formulas, observing certain days and fearing unlucky numbers. The thought is introduced that there are certain spirits to be respected and feared because of the power they may have over us. Thus Satan snares the unwary into the realms of fear of him and his spirits.

Too many individuals have been caught up in curiosity of things that, at first, appear to be rather innocent. By experimenting with the Ouija board, horoscopes, palm reading, and many other such practices, they have made themselves vulnerable for evil spirits to further trouble them.

The goal of Satan is to erode and finally destroy the Christian's faith in God. The Christian experiences victory by having a faith in Christ and in Him alone. The desire for knowing the unknown or the lust of power motivates one to sometimes experiment with that which is of the Satanic realm. A simple trust in God puts one at rest with what is unknown and makes one completely confident in the power of Christ.

Complete text of: The Powers of Darkness

That which is begun out of curiosity or experimentation soon entraps one in a web of fear; fear of what might happen, fear of greater powers, fear of other people, fear of Satan himself. These fears envelop the individual who has allowed himself to become involved in dubious practices. In response to this fear Satan claims to have an antidote. He offers more power if one will subject himself to certain rituals or other obediences. Fear of other spirits can be counteracted with a possession or greater power ourselves, he says. Thus a person is introduced to successive tiers of power that, rather than causing the individual to reach greater levels of peace, cause a never ending downward spiral into the depths of satanic abomination. The security promised by Satan proves elusive, being replaced by the need of protection from a still higher power in this wicked domain. This is the system of Satanism.

Satan's plan is to supplant God. Satan was created to worship, not to be worshipped. He is not a supreme power; he cannot overcome the Lamb of God; he cannot give security; he is not interested in our well-being. Nevertheless he continually works to exercise power over people to bring them into subjection to him. He tries to create mistrust toward God and His kingdom. He is endeavoring to establish an organization with himself as the master. This is developed through a system of fear and illusions of power. He works marvels to create awe in people's minds (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). The effect of this system is to destroy peace and security in individuals, homes, and governments. It captures people, causing them to feel seriously threatened if they try to escape.

Satan is the bitterest, most malicious, most vicious, most terrible enemy you have. He is totally without honor. He is a liar. There is no truth in him-"He is a liar, and the father of it [untruth]" (John 8:44). He is a murderer, a destroyer. He is the very embodiment of hatred and evil. He is totally wicked through and through, with absolutely no redeeming good.

Satan is the instigator of all evil. There is neither crime nor sin too evil or too filthy for him. He is the cause of all hatred, all murder, all child or wife abuse, all drug abuse, all immorality, all broken homes, all contention, all witchcraft, all dishonesty. He delights to cause crimes of passion and evil, crimes committed against innocent people who happen to fall into the hands of depraved or perverted persons. He is ruthless and unforgiving. Suffering does not inspire compassion in him. Bloodshed and death are tools he uses to gain his ends. He has come "to steal, to kill, and to destroy" (John 10:10).

Satan's eternal destiny is already decided. There is a place of eternal fire prepared for him and his angels (Matthew 25:41). He is interested in getting as many people as he can to suffer that torment with him. He knows he can do this by undermining and finally destroying our faith in God. He will do this either by openly challenging God's Word or by subtly encouraging lukewarm, careless, permissive Christianity.

There is deliverance from the clutches of Satan. He would have you to believe that there is no way out. The Bible tells us that Jesus has come to set the captive free. He has come to give life. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). In His life on earth Jesus demonstrated His power over Satan by resisting the temptations of Satan and by casting out evil spirits by God's Word (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 9:25-26). Jesus conquered the power of Satan by His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead.

Can we avail ourselves of this victory and overcome the arch enemy of our souls? First, we must realize that we have been captured by Satan and are bound by his fear. We must admit that this is sinful and that we are lost if we remain in this state. As we realize that we are unable to deliver ourselves from Satan's grasp, we must cry out to God for deliverance with all our heart. We must repent of, and turn away from our sins. We need to accept by faith the atoning blood of Jesus Christ for our sins. We must yield ourselves to God, accept His forgiveness and faithfully obey His Word. As we meet these conditions He gives us peace with Him, quiets the uneasiness in our hearts, forgives our sins, gives us a new nature and makes us one of His children. This is what it means to be born again. Anyone who resists the call of God is still in Satan's kingdom, and the deceiver will eventually take that person with him to everlasting torment.

If you do not understand the plan that God has made for you, study God's Word, pray to Him with an honest heart, and He will show you the way. God is calling you to Himself and wants you to escape from Satan's bondage. May God bless you. Read Psalm 91.

Additional reading:

Luke 11:20-23 .......One stronger than Satan

Romans 6:20-23 ....Free from sin

Isaiah 61:1 .............Liberty to the captives

Romans 8:1-2.........Free from condemnation

The Hidden Cry

What means this throbbing in my breast?
This constant search for peace and rest?
This loneliness I feel?
Even when I mingle with the crowd
this aching void is deep and loud;
Its cry is real! So real!

Vain World, can you appease this quest?
Do your vast stores supply this rest?
Then quell this longing cry!
Lo! Riches, laughter, pride, and fame,
When claimed, are merely but a name!
They fail to satisfy!

Ah, ‘tis my soul! It is the cry!
Thou seest eternal death is nigh,
Unless God gives thee rest?
Entombed, thou art a part of Him;
And hence, you seek release from sin,
To dwell with Him at last!

Oh! I am wretched! I’m lost in sin!
Estranged from God is my soul within!
Have mercy, Lord on me!
Hark! Hark! A voice now calls my name:
“Dear Sinner, I have borne your blame:
I shed my blood for thee!

To those who come, I give sweet rest,
A quietness within the breast;
Tis found alone in Me.”
I’m coming, Lord, I’m coming now!
Low at Thy cross I gladly bow;
I bring my all to Thee!

Complete text of: The Hidden Cry

Sweet peace is mine at Calvary!
My burden flees, my soul is free!
(Here would I ever stay!)
Yes, Jesus stills that hidden cry;
My soul has now a home on high,
And waits for that great day!

You may be acquainted with this “hidden cry” if Jesus does not control your heart. You may not altogether understand this yearning. It’s your soul crying out for God. He made it, and it reaches out for Him. “Man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). That soul shall live on and on-eternally.

There is a great restlessness sweeping over the face of the earth; much running to and fro (Daniel 12:4). A confusing and foolish search for pleasure prevails instead of man turning earnestly to God for the answer to his soul’s quest. Many men and women, boys and girls give up honesty and decency with the vain hope of satisfying this aching void within. In their attempt to fill this emptiness, it is natural for people to pursue “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16). It is sad to think that thousands, even millions, are being led farther and farther into Satan’s great trap with these lusts. At the last day they will face the piercing truth that Satan was a deceiver and that sinful, carnal living was only an illusion. Verily, at the end of life’s way they will be cast into the fiery pit of hell. In hell! There they will suffer untold torment and agony through the never-ending ages of eternity. (See also Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10-15; 21:8).

Today is still the day of grace, the time when sinners can come to the Lord for forgiveness. Today, if your heart is throbbing and crying out for peace and rest, turn to Him whom your soul loves. Sin separates from God. And there is only One who can save you. That One is Jesus, the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16). He longs to save you. He alone can give you rest of heart and mind. He so tenderly invites “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Jesus suffered and died on the cross to redeem our souls (1 Peter 2:24). We were the guilty ones! Justice demanded that each of us should die-even the eternal death. But because of this redemption, death shall be “swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54). Jesus was the innocent “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). He loved the souls of men so much that He was willing to leave His Father’s throne with all its glories and come to this earth. Jesus lived here as a man and then gave His life on the cross. He shed His blood to atone for our sins. “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:15).

Many people think that they will be saved simply because they believe in Jesus. Truly, we must believe in Him, but “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20). Jesus Himself said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

Your soul may be restless, and you may fear eternity because of sin upon your heart. Come to Jesus with your whole heart and ask Him to forgive your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. Sin cannot enter heaven. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). But take courage! “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).

As you read these words you may feel the Spirit of God knocking so gently at your heart. Come to Jesus now! He is ready to forgive and to deliver you from the bondage of sin and fear.

To answer God’s call, open your heart to Him. Acknowledge that you are a helpless sinner, and that you are eternally lost. Believe that your only hope is in Jesus, who suffered and died for your sins. This will bring deep sorrow for your sins. As you repent and make a full commitment to God, He will forgive you. You will feel a calmness and peace that will satisfy the cry in your heart. It is important to follow in obedience as the Holy Spirit begins to direct your life. He will lead you to confess your sins and make restitution where necessary. This is the new birth Jesus speaks of in John 3:3.