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  • Writer's pictureHendrik Nel

What does forgiveness really mean?

In Isaiah 1:18 the Lord tells the people of Israel:

“… Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool.

Sins that have been committed, are in the past. It’s over, it’s done. It happened, it’s past tense. The only way we can take our sins away is to change the past. You and I cannot change the past. When we sin – abusing my position to offend others, unjustly condemn, badmouthing – it’s done and it’s there in the past. Even if someone forgives me for what I did to him or her, it doesn’t change the past. But fortunately, God can change the past! He created time and can take it away as well.

At the wedding in Cana, Jesus performs His first miracle. He turns water into wine. To make wine drinkable, it must be aged. But the water that Jesus turned into wine, didn’t age. It thus didn’t have a past. It had to be given a past and aged so that the wedding guests could drink it. Through a miracle, God creates a past for the wine. If God could give a past where there was none, then He could remove a past that was there. The Bible is filled with God’s promises that He will wash away our sins, remove them (Ephesians 1:7, Romans 3:23, Matthew 6:14, Acts 3:19). He does not deny that there was sin. But he changes the past and the future reality. Not only are we forgiven, it’s as if we hadn’t sinned at all.

Through forgiveness the impossible becomes reality, the guilty becomes innocent, the infected become clean and pure, the rejected become the beloved, and our sins that were scarlet turn white as snow. Every day, receive from God your changed, pure and clean past – a past as beautiful and white as snow.

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