The central message of the Law and the Prophets is to repent. The New Covenant brings us into the next stage, which is forgiveness. Therefore forgiveness and repentance are foundations of the gospel message that we preach. Luke 24:47 – Repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in His name to all nations.
The forgiveness of sins is one of the primary purposes of the crucifixion. It was on the cross that Yeshua offered forgiveness to mankind. Luke 23:34 – Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. Our faith in the work of the cross is based on our assumption that this prayer was answered positively.
The Middle East has a culture of vengeance. In both Islam and in Ultra-Orthodox Judaism, the emphasis is on obedience to Law, without the balancing factor of forgiveness. Jeremiah prophesied that forgiveness would come through the New Covenant.
Jeremiah 31:31& 34 – The days are coming when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel . . . For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.
God says here that He will both forgive and forget. In the Middle East conflict we often hear the phrase, “We will not forgive, nor forget.” This slogan is said with pride. To forgive is almost seen as a sin.
There are three kinds of forgiveness, which form a kind of spiritual triangle.
I. Asking God to Forgive Your Sin
When we see the holiness of God, we become aware of our sin. When we realize that God punishes sin, we become aware of our need to be forgiven. When we understand that God is willing to forgive us by grace, we are given faith.
I John 1:9 – If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.
When we repent of our sins, we are forgiven. Repentance involves asking God to forgive us of our sin, and making a commitment not to sin in the future (with God’s help). Repentance therefore is the solution to sin.
When we ask God to forgive us of sin, we have victory over sin. Ask yourself right now if you have some sin for which you need to repent and ask God to forgive you.
II. Forgiving Others Who Have Hurt Us
In the prayer that Yeshua taught His disciples, most of the elements were already found in Jewish traditional prayers from the first century. However, He added a new emphasis on our willingness to forgive others.
Matthew 6:12, 14-15 – “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Yeshua made our receiving forgiveness of sins contingent on our forgiving others. This is both a threat and a promise. Unless we forgive, we will not be forgiven. On the other hand, if we will forgive others, we will be forgiven.
Our forgiving others is a demonstration of how much we really believe in the cross. If you believe that God has forgiven you, you almost cannot help but forgive others. The lack of forgiving others is a proof that you really have not believed.
When we do not forgive someone who has hurt us, we hold the memory of the pain in our consciousness. We are hurt over and over again through the repeated memory of the past. When we forgive the person who hurt us, we open the door for God to heal us of our inner hurts.
Ask yourself right now if you need to forgive someone. Your healing will not be far behind.
III. Forgiving Yourself
When we sin, our conscience becomes defiled. We may know that God has forgiven us, but we still feel unclean, unworthy, and unwanted. Repenting deals with the sin, but it does not help us with the guilt. The only solution to the problem of guilt and condemnation is faith in the blood of Yeshua.
1 John 1:7 – “The blood of Yeshua the Messiah His son cleanses us from all sin.”
The blood of Yeshua is like a spiritual soap that cleans our conscience. Guilt is like dirt. Our conscience is like a carburetor. If there is a little dirt in the carburetor, the whole engine will stop working.
Hebrews 9:14 – “How much more shall the blood of Messiah…cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”
Sigmund Freud said that the root of all psychological problems is guilt. He just did not have any solution. Victory over psychological problems comes through faith in Yeshua, freeing us from every guilt complex.
Romans 8:1 – “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Messiah Yeshua.”
If you believe that Yeshua forgave you on the cross, you must AGREE with Him and forgive yourself. Exercise your faith right now. Believe that through Yeshua you are forgiven, clean, and free from guilt.
Asher serves as president of Tikkun Global family of ministries and congregations, dedicated to the dual restoration of Israel and the Church. He is founder of the Revive Israel five-fold ministry team, and oversees both Ahavat Yeshua and Tiferet Yeshua congregations in Israel.
He and his wife Betty share a passion for personal prayer and devotion, local evangelism and discipleship in Hebrew, and unity of the Body of believers worldwide.
Asher was raised in a conservative Jewish home and holds degrees from Harvard University, Baltimore Hebrew College and Messiah Biblical Institute. He has authored numerous books, tracts and articles.