What It Means To Be Forgiven

Title: What It Means To Be Forgiven

Bible Book: Acts 13 : 38-39

Author: Sammy Burgess

Subject: Forgiveness



Besides the Name JESUS what would you say is the most precious word found in the Word of God? Some of you would say GRACE! Grace means God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense! Some would say that the most precious word found in the Word of God is LOVE! When a person thinks about the Love of God; thinking that He “SO LOVED” the world - their thoughts begin to swim in an ocean so deep that the depth of it cannot be measured.

Some think of the word HEAVEN! Heaven is a great word. Just to mention the word Heaven, you begin to imagine the beauty and splendor of a place that is being built by our Heavenly Architect, the Lord Jesus. You imagine a Glorious and spacious place prepared for every person who belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. What a place Heaven is; what a word Heaven is.

But I would like for you to think about another word. There is a word that sums up what “Grace” really is. There is a word that describes the “Love” of God. There is a word that gives us the hope of “Heaven”. I truly believe that one of the most precious words found in the Word of God is the word FORGIVEN!

I read about a cemetery not far from New York, in which there is a grave, which has inscribed upon its headstone just one word - "Forgiven." There is no name, no date of birth or death. The stone is unembellished by the sculptor's art. There is no epitaph, no fulsome eulogy-just that one word, "Forgiven."

I believe with all my heart that the greatest thing that can be said of any person, or written upon their grave, is "Forgiven."

Reg Dunlap in his sermon “The Beauty of Being Forgiven” said:

“I believe without question that the most beautiful word in the English language is the word “forgive”. It is the most tender and touching word that can ever be spoken upon earth.”

Let me give you 2 reasons why I believe that the word “FORGIVEN” is the most precious word you will ever hear or speak. (1)- Think About What Forgiveness Does. Being “forgiven” means that sin and guilt has been removed from your life. (2)- Think About What Forgiveness Demands. It demanded the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross to accomplish forgiveness.

Have you thought about the fact that when “forgiveness” is experienced in the human heart that it causes rejoicing in the halls of Heaven. {Luke 15:10}- “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”

“Forgiveness”! a)- How Beautiful it sounds to the human ear. It is wonderful to walk through life, genuinely knowing that our sins have been forgiven. b)- How Glorious it shows on the human face. A person cannot hide on their face that their sins have been forgiven.

I think about the story in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Lady Mabeth was guilty of murder, and in her deranged mental state she imagined that the blood of the victims was still on her hands. See her as she walks through the corridors of the palace wringing her hands and rubbing her hands and trying to wash away what she supposes is still the blood of her victims. She cries out; “All the perfumes of Arabia cannot sweeten this little hand.”

I am glad that I have some good news for every person that may feel that they cannot get over their past. God’s “forgiveness” is extended to you and can be experienced by you if you will only receive it by faith.

Paul tells in his message that he was preaching in {Acts 13:38,39} that he believed in the “forgiveness of sins.” Lets look at this subject of being “FORGIVEN” and see why it should be preached.

I. What Are The Reasons Of Forgiveness?

Why does a person need to be forgiven? There are 2 reasons that demand “forgiveness”.

A. There Is The Problem Of Sin

We are told {Romans 3:10} that “There is none righteous, no not one.” We are guilty because we are sinners.

You will never find in God’s Word where ‘sin’ was ever taken lightly by God. The reason for this is because SIN IS AGAINST GOD! Therefore, SIN CAN ONLY BE FORGIVEN BY GOD!

I don’t know if you have thought about sin this way, but (1)- Sin Is An Attack On God! (2)- Sin Is An Assault Against God! The consequence for committing sin is death.

Ezekiel 18:4 “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” {Romans 6:23}- “For the wages of sin is death.”

You may be sitting there thinking “why is God so severe in dealing with sin?” (1)- Sin is breaking of the Law. (2)- Sin is breaking fellowship with God. (3)- Sin is breaking down of a life.

As you study the Word of God, you will discover that sin is described in different ways.

1. The Word Of God Calls Sin “Wickedness”

“iniquity”; “vanity”. This describes a person who chooses to live a life that lacks substance; that lacks meaning; that lacks purpose. Sin has promised to give a person much, but in reality it gives them nothing. Sin leads to a hollow, empty, unfulfilled life.

2. The Word Of God Describes Sin As Being “Unfaithful”

It is a person who has broken a trust between him and his God. It is failing to keep his word to God. They have abused a trust that had been committed to them. {1 Corinthians 4:2}- “It is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.”

3. The Word Of God Describes Sin As A “Troubled Sea.”

Sin produces an inner turmoil that cannot be stopped any more than the waves of the sea can be forced to cease. It is an inner tossing and turning; it is an inward agitation that constantly churns. {Isaiah 57:20,21}- “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. {21}- There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.”

4. The Word Of God Uses Words To Describe Sin

God’s Word speaks of sin as “calamity”; “distress”; “adversity”; “grief”; “affliction”; “misery”; “sorrow”; “trouble”; “wretchedness”. These words speak of a person who brings injury to them self and to others. It describes a person who intentionally hurts; who is out to bring pain and sorrow to others.

5. The Word Of God Describes Sin As A One Who Refuses Authority

6. The Word Of God Describes Sin As A Person Going His Own Way

Sin is like a person who rather go their own way instead of God’s Way; no matter what the consequences may be.”

Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

Proverbs 14:14 “The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways.”

Isaiah 53:6 “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way.”

7. The Word Of God Tells Us That Sin Is “missing the mark.”

This is when a person fails or comes short of the purpose of life God has ordained for them. It is missing the goal that should be reached. God has a goal for every person and He has been originally gifted them to attain that goal. But sin causes that person to settle for something far less and far lower than God’s design purpose. {Romans 3:23}- “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Every person in this building has experienced this problem of sin. Every one has either lived in sin or is still living in sin. Whatever condition you may be in, may I remind you that that every one of us at one time or another has been guilty before God.

I said all of this about sin in order to stress this next statement. ALL OF US NEED TO BE FORGIVEN! No one has yet lived who did not need the forgiveness of God!

B. There Is The Persistence Of Shame

The Problem of sin leads to the Persistence of Shame. When I speak of “the shame of sin”, I am really talking about the guilt of sin.

GUILT can cause tension; it can cause physical stress; it can lead to an emotional break down. Guilt can make a person withdraw from reality. Guilt can put a person on the brink of a nervous break down.

GUILT brings an inward conflict that is not necessarily seen on the outside. GUILT many times denies truth, and causes a person to point their finger at someone else as to blame.

The pressure of guilt produces pain that is unbearable. In {Psalms 32} David, after he had sinned, describes his guilt as a)- being fatigued … b)- being frustrated … c)- being a failure. {One writer described David as saying: “Intense pain developed in my heart great enough to kill me.”}

Sin turns happiness into heaviness

Sin turns satisfaction into sorrow

Sin turns joy into judgment

Sin turns blessings into bitterness

Sin turns delight into disappointment

The reason why a person who is living in sin feels guilty is because they are guilty.

We are being told that we need to adjust ourselves to our guilt. Listen carefully. We don’t need to adjust ourselves to guilt - WE NEED OUR GUILT REMOVED! We don’t need to get use to feeling guilty - WE NEED TO GET RID OF OUR GUILT!

I believe that it will be a happy day in the life of every person when they reach the point in their life of being tired of living with guilt and pain and learn what it means to be forgiven. VICTORY COMES BY BEING FORGIVEN OF OUR SINS!

Now may I say that you ought to be thankful that ‘sin’ brings pain into your life. The pain, that pressure that sin brings makes us realize that we cannot handle this problem on our own.

In Psalms 32 David tells us that while he was under the pressure of sin, he realized that if God didn’t help him, his life was headed for destruction.

Therefore when we realize and understand that we cannot live with the problem of sin and the persistence of shame - we then realize we need help. In other words, we need forgiveness.

II. What Are The Requirements Of Forgiveness?

We need to be forgiven. We are not “forgiven” because of our merits. We can be forgiven because God does something for us that we do not deserve. Now, forgiveness is something that has certain attachments to it.

A. There Must Be A Repentant Heart

“Repentance” means to turn from sin to God. It means a “reorientation of thought.” Here is what happens when you “repent”. (You begin to hate the things God hates.) - (You begin to love the things God loves.) It is turning your back completely on your old lifestyle; meaning that you have no desire to go back to living that way again.

Isaiah 55:6,7 “Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near: {7}- Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”

Jeremiah 25:5 “They said, Turn ye again now every one from his evil way, and from the evil of your doings…”

B. There Must Be A Responsive Heart

This speaks of confession. We are told in {1 John 1:9:}- “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The word “confess” means that we must agree with God about what He says about sin. God hates sin; therefore, we must hate sin.

God calls sin an ABOMINATION - we should call sin an abomination instead of calling it an ‘accident’.

God calls sin a BLUNDER - we should call sin a blunder instead of calling it ‘blindness’.

God calls sin a DISEASE - we should call sin a defect instead of calling it a ‘defect’.

God calls sin a CHOICE - we should call sin a choice instead of calling it a ‘chance’.

God calls sin INIQUITY - we should call sin Iniquity instead of calling it an ‘infirmity’.

God calls sin a LEPROSY - we should call sin a leprosy instead of calling it a ‘luxury’.

God calls sin a TRAGEDY - we should call sin a tragedy instead of calling it a ‘trifle’.

God calls sin a WICKEDNESS - we should call sin a wickedness instead of calling it a ‘weakness’.

Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman told of a distinguished minister, Dr. Howard, from Australia preached very strongly on the subject of sin. After the service, one of the Church officers came to counsel with him in the study.

He said; “Dr. Howard; we don’t want you to talk as openly as you do about man’s guilt and corruption, because if our boys and girls hear you discussing that subject they will more easily becomes sinners. Call it a “mistake” if you will, but do not speak so plainly about sins.”

The minister took down from the shelf a small bottle and showing it to the visitor said; “Do you see this label? It says; ‘strychnine’, and underneath in bold, red letters, the word poison.”

The minister looked at the man and said; “Do you know what you are asking me to do? You are suggesting that I change the label. Suppose that I change the label on this bottle of poison and put on it the label; “Essence of Peppermint.” Do you see what would happen? Someone would use this bottle, thinking that it was peppermint; not knowing the danger involved would certainly die.”

The reason why I gave you as much as I could about what the Word of God said about sin is so that you would know what God really calls sin. In order to make your confessing right, you must confess what God says about sin; and admit that you have sinned against God.

God never told us to categorize our sins; He told us to confess our sins. We must be in full agreement with God; agreeing with Him about what He has to say about sin.

Proverbs 28:13 “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”

You cannot ‘un-sin’, but you can confess your sins before God. 1)- What Are The Reasons Of Forgiveness? 2)-What Are The Requirements Of Forgiveness?

III. What Are The Results Of Forgiveness?

Once you repent of your sin and confess your sins to God; realizing that you cannot overcome your sins unless you have God to help you - only then can you be forgiven.

If you pray; “Dear God; I have sin in my life; I realize that I have sinned against You; I agree with You about sin; I AM WRONG; I AM SORRY; and I want You to forgive me.” God will immediately forgive you of all your sins.

Now, I want you to see just what happens to your sins once you confess them and forsake them.

A. God Covers Them Over

Psalms 32:1 “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, WHOSE SIN IS COVERED.”

When a person uncovers their sin by confession, God covers their sin with His blood. God takes the most shameful life that has been struggling with the filth of sin, and covers them with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. *Then, when God the Father sees that person, He sees them through the blood of Jesus Christ. He only sees the Blood; He cannot see the sins because they are covered.

I love the song

“There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood;

Drawn From Emmanuals Veins.

And Sinners Plunged Beneath That Flood;


B. God Carries Them Away

Psalms 103:12 “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”

The distance between ‘East’ and ‘West’ cannot be measured. There is no place where ‘east’ ends and ‘west’ begins. East is always in front of us.

If I were to travel from California to New York, - ‘east’ is still in front of me. If I were to travel from New York to England - ‘east’ is still in front of me. If I were to travel from England to Europe - ‘east’ is still in front of me. If I were to travel from Europe to Japan - ‘east’ is still ahead of me. If I were to travel from Japan back to California - ‘east’ would still be in front of me. ITS DISTANCE CANNOT BE DETERMINED BECAUSE IT IS INFINITE.

May I say to you that this is how far God has cast away our sins. {Micah 7:19}- “He will turn again, He will have compassion upon up; He will subdue our iniquities; and Thou wilt CAST ALL THEIR SINS INTO THE DEPTHS OF THE SEA.”

The average depth of the oceans is 12,450 ft. or a little over 2 miles. The Pacific Ocean is not only the largest but also the deepest at an average of 15,215 ft. or a little over 2.8 miles deep. The Indian Ocean is next with an average of 13,002 ft. or close to 2.5 miles deep. The Atlantic Ocean has an average depth of 12,881 ft. or right at 2.4 miles in depth.

The deepest part of the Indian Ocean is the Java Trench that is 25,344 feet deep or 4.8 miles deep. The deepest part of the Atlantic Ocean is the Puerto Rico Trench that is 28,231 feet deep or a little over 5.3 miles deep. The deepest spot in the Ocean is the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean and is 36,200 feet deep or over 6.8 miles in depth.

Only on one occasion has man ever gone to the deepest part of the ocean and that was on January 23, 1960. US Navy Lt. Don Walsh and Swiss Scientist Jacques Piccard spent over 4 hours dropping straight down in the darkness before they reached the bottom.

Now when the Bible says that our sins have been “cast into the depth of the sea” I do not believe that God took our sins and put them nearly 7 miles down into the deepest Ocean. This phrase “cast into the depth of the sea” means that when God forgives us of our sins - our sins are so far removed that we will never face those sins again.

Corrie Ten Boom:

“When God casts someone’s sins into the depths of the sea, He places a sign nearby that reads, “NO FISHING.”

God makes it very clear that He CASTS ALL OUR SINS into the depths of the sea. It doesn’t matter what sin or sins you have committed, God will forgive you!

Our sins will never be recovered. Our sins will never be returned!

Charles Haddon Spurgeon: “If sin be removed so far, then we may be sure that the scent, the trace, the very memory of it must be entirely gone. If this be the distance of its removal, there is no shade of fear of its ever being brought back again. Even Satan himself could not achieve such a task.”

What does the Lord do with our sins? God Covers Them Over - God Carries Them Away.

C. God Cuts Them Off

Psalms 25:18 “Look upon mine affiction and my pain; and FORGIVE ALL MY SINS.”

This is the reason why an “alcoholic” can all of a sudden meet Jesus; confesses his sins; his sins are forgiven, and never crave another drop of alcohol again.

This is the reason why a ‘drug addict’ can come to Jesus; confess his sins; get his sins forgiven, and never another pill that would harm him or inject another needle that would put him on a high.

This is the reason why a foul-mouth person can come in contact with Jesus; confess his sins and have his sins forgiven - stop using profanity and start praising God.

Now, there are those who say that they cannot overcome their habits. Now, the reason why their old habits linger is not because Christ does not have the power to cut them off - it could be that they are not willing to give them up.

I want you to realize that if you have confessed your sins; if you have repented of your sins, then God helps you cut off those sins that once had you bound.

God Covers Them Over! - God Carries Them Away! - God Cuts Them Off!

D. God Cancels Them Out

The word “FORGIVE” means “to cancel out”. It sets forth the idea of erasing. It is like removing a debt by drawing a line through it and marking it “Paid In Full.”

Paul puts it this way: {13:39}- “And by him all that believe ARE JUSTIFIED from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”

Being “justified” means “just as if you had never sinned.” I preach and proclaim that JESUS CHRIST STILL FORGIVES PEOPLE OF THEIR SINS!

There was a king who had suffered much from his rebellious subjects. But one day they surrendered their arms; they threw themselves at his feet and begged for mercy. THE KING PARDONED THEM ALL.

One of his friends said to the king; “Did you not say that every “rebel” should die?” The king replied; “Yes; BUT I SEE NO REBELS HERE!

“FORGIVEN” is a sweet word. If you need your sins forgiven, it will be the sweetest word that you will hear today.

Being forgiven is DAILY DISCOVERING that God has not cast us out.

Being forgiven is DEEPLY DISCOVERING that God has not turned His back on you.

Being forgiven is DEFINITELY DISCOVERING that you are right with God.

I don’t know of a sweeter word that we can hear at this moment. ARE YOU FORGIVEN? You can be forgiven of your sins. You don’t have to live with ‘guilt’; you don’t have to be defeated because of your sins.

Jesus made it very clear on the Cross: {Luke 23:34}- “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”


Now in closing let me show you something important. You may be saying, "I have asked for forgiveness; but I still feel so guilty. I still feel like a dog for what I have done. I don’t think that I will ever get over it."

Let me remind you of something that I think can help some of you. There are two people that will deal with you about your sin. (1)- There is the Holy Spirit; He will reprove you of your sin. (2)-. There is Satan; he will remind you of your sin.

We are told in {John 16:8}- "And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment." *The word "reprove" means “to convict”. The Holy Spirit convicts of sin. >The devil is often presented as an accuser. He is always pointing out what you have done and how you have failed.

I read about a man that went to see a psychologist. He said, "Doc, you have got to help me with my wife." The doctor asked, "What's the matter?" The husband said, "Well, every time we get into an argument she gets historical." The doctor said, "You mean hysterical." The husband said, "No, I mean historical. She drags up my past every time we get into an argument."

The devil gets ‘historical’ with us. But here is something I want you to understand. The Holy Spirit only convicts you of unconfessed sins. The devil accuses you of confessed sins. Satan will always saying to you, "Do you remember what you did." Every time God wants to bless you and use you the devil reminds you of the past. He keeps you filled with guilt.

But I want to ask you something. If God forgives our sin and forgets our sin, then you have no need to live under a cloud of guilt. Remember something: GOD WILL NEVER BRING UP AGAIN ANY SIN THAT HE HAS PLACED UNDER THE BLOOD! God would not be “Just” if those cleansed sins were called back before you.

Concerning guilt, there is one more thing I want to say. Forgiveness is a 3-fold proposition.

There is the forgiveness of God.

There is the forgiveness of others.

There is the forgiveness of ourselves.

People can be hard and cold about your past. But in most cases, given some time, most people will forgive. There is no question that God will forgive. In many cases, what is needed is for you to forgive yourself.

If God has forgiven you, you can forgive yourself. If you have been forgiven by God, regardless of what others do, you can forgive yourself. You don't have to live filled with guilt. If God has forgiven you of your sin, then rejoice because your sin has been forgiven.

On the island of Trinidad there is a crater in an extinct volcano which is completely filled with pitch. This asphalt is hard enough for people to walk on, even though here and there gas escapes in bubbles from its surface. Train loads of full of asphalt are dug from this tar-like lake and used to pave roads all over the world.

It is said, that no matter how large a hole of asphalt is dug out, it fills back up within 72 hours. For over 100 years they have been taking shiploads of asphalt out of this crater, yet it remains full. They have gone down as 280 feet and still found this black, gum-like substance bubbling up.

The same is true of God's grace and forgiveness. It never runs out and never diminishes. No matter how terrible the sin, there is grace and forgiveness that will be sufficient. The person that has been forgiven of sin need not live in a prison of guilt. You are set free. You can be set free.

Ernest Hemingway in his short story, "The Capitol of the World," tells the story about a father and his teenage son, who lived in Spain. Their relationship became strained. Eventually they separated and the son ran away from home.

Well the father began to search for his lost and rebellious son. Finally in desperation, he put an ad in the Madrid newspaper as a last resort. His son's name was Paco, which is a very common name in Spain, much like John would be in America. The ad simply read like this:

Dear Paco:

“Meet me in front of the Madrid Newspaper Office tomorrow at noon. All is forgiven. I love you.” The next day at noon, in front of that newspaper office, there were 800 "Paco's" seeking forgiveness.

You may be a "Paco" seeking forgiveness. There is an old well-worn statement that says, "Nothing is ever settled until it is settled right. And nothing is ever settled right until it is settled with God." Well, God is ready to settle things, and if you will meet God at the foot of the cross, commit your life to the Lord Jesus Christ, confess your sin, and receive God's forgiveness, I promise you the verdict now and for all eternity will be, "Not guilty."

What is the Lesson we can learn from Defilement? Remember that all of us are capable of falling into sin. Sin damages and destroys lives. But if you confess your sins and turn from your sinful ways - GOD WILL FORGIVE YOUR SINS … GOD WILL FORGET YOUR SINS.

Since your burden of sin has been lifted at Calvary, don’t go back and pick up the burden and start carrying it. Leave that burden at Calvary. It forever covered and you are forever forgiven.

God can and will use you again. What did God think about David after he repented of his sins? “He was a man after God’s own heart.” God did not condone David’s sin; neither did He condemn Him. David finally confessed his sins and God forgave him; then God took him and used him again.


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