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SERMON: Instant Forgiveness; Lingering Consequences

“If we confess our sins, (then) he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

While being transported to basic training as a new enlistee, a young recruit accidentally opened a parachute in the rear of the airplane. He felt intimidated as he opened the cockpit door to confess what he had done. Expecting to be severely chastised, he was surprised by the pilot’s calm response. “Well, son,” he said, “if this plane goes down, that chute is yours.”

Life is often like that. Though others forgive us of our transgressions, we still have to live with the lingering consequences. Often the things we do hurt relationships that leave a lingering sting or we make a bad financial decision that takes us years to pay for. Some people even violate the law and have to go to prison.

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The Bible tells us that if we confess our sins to God, we will be forgiven through the shed blood of the Savior, but that doesn’t mean that God will immediately erase the consequences. As the psalmist says, “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.” – Psalm 51:2-3

Someone in prison may become a devout born again Christian, but that does not commute their sentence by civil authorities. People often ask the question of why do we suffer the punishment for our sins even after God has forgiven us.

He forgives anyone who genuinely repents. Jesus died for our sins, but understand that the sacrifice was to get us right with God, not to protect us from earthy consequences. The thief must still face prison, the child will be disciplined by his parents, and the adulterer still faces the risk of losing everything.

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Look at the story of David. After being guilty of adultery, abuse of power, murder and cover-up, the guilt of his sin clung to him everywhere he went. Then, he confessed his sin to God before a priest and he was instantly forgiven by God.

But while God instantly forgave David, he did not remove the negative consequences of his sins. For the rest of his life, he found the consequences of his sins.

With repentance and confession, God forgives instantly. But He doesn’t remove the consequences of our sin. We have to live with those consequences. Some people think that they can do as they wish and then confess, asking forgiveness and everything will be all right.

It will be right with God, but we still have to face the music composed by our past sinful actions, so careful to remember when temptations come, the price can be high no matter how much God forgives us.

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