“I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake.” I John 2:12
If you attend testimony time at any decent Bible believing church, it will not take long to hear thankful saints praising God for their salvation. Grateful brethren will testify how God delivered them from the misery and bondage of their sin. Undeserved forgiveness will be mentioned over and over as the Lord is honoured for his mercy and grace and love.
So often when we think of forgiveness our context is limited to the benefits that result in our lives. God is the Forgiver and we are the forgiven. Jesus paid the ultimate price in order for our slate to be wiped clean. We are the ones that now enjoy the blessings of a heart free of offences against God and the everlasting life that results.
In the midst of our frustrating knack for self-centeredness, what we often fail to notice are the benefits that the forgiveness of our sins brings to God. As the Apostle John notes, “your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.” The transaction that left us free from sin was not only for our benefit – the Lord did it for his name’s sake as well! Consider the return God receives for this work:
Our Love. The entire gospel plan is about God loving us and giving us the opportunity to be forgiven through his work on Calvary. Because God has given us a free will, the one thing he wants most in return he has chosen to wait upon us to give – our free and unconditional love. He is not willing that any should perish and that all would come to repentance – but he refuses to “make” anyone believe (despite the contorted views of Calvinism). Forced or orchestrated love is not real love. The nature of genuine love is that it must be freely and willingly given – forgiveness prods our hearts to love the Saviour in a way that nothing else can.
His Glory. The Old Testament sacrifices involved phenomenal labour on man’s part that in the end permanently absolved no one of their sin. The subsequent lesson in the New Testament is that only God could provide, offer, and accomplish a sacrifice that would once for all settle the sin question. Forgiveness is so completely and totally a work of God alone that it boggles the mind that any man would even attempt to snitch a bit of the credit for himself. Repeatedly the Bible slams the door on the concept that any good work could play even the smallest part in our forgiveness. ALL the glory goes to the Forgiver and not one iota of the credit belongs to the forgiven. Our sins were forgiven for his name’s sake alone!
The Angels’ Awe. As we read Scripture from a human centered perspective, often lost to us is the big picture that the angels were created first. Humanity is the side show to the authorities, dominions, principalities and spiritual powers in high places that have existed for eons before us. Because the angelic realms operate by sight rather than faith, it appears that forgiveness is not an option in their kingdom. Any disobedience among the angels has always been met with the harsh realities of God’s holiness and judgment. When the Father of Spirits made this new life form a little lower than then angels, it must have boggled their minds to see Adam sin and yet be extended grace. For six thousand years these ministers of God have watched the depravity of mankind, the love of the Saviour and the grace he has mercifully extended to humanity with utter wonder. These beings who enjoy looking into the truths of the gospel will one day stand in heaven side by side with redeemed mankind giving glory to their Father and our Father. The God who forgave our sins knew the reaction it would one day provoke in his other sons who sit beyond the reach of forgiveness – that they would love and praise and worship his name because he extended forgiveness to the lowest of the low.
His Credibility. The Accuser of the Brethren appears to enjoy pointing out our faults and God’s perceived inequities. Lost men have long pointed the finger at what they perceive to be an unjust God who has allowed his creation to devolve into a depraved mess. With the allegations flying thick, our Saviour took the most decisive step possibly by decreeing the maximum eternal death penalty for sin and then by paying that penalty himself! All blame and fault has been forever put to rest and the credibility of God established for eternity when he forgave our sins for his name’s sake!
My sins were innumerable and I was without hope facing an eternity of God’s wrath. There was nothing in my hand I could bring to impress the Creator. My only hope was the blood of the cross and when I humbled myself before my Lord, the gift of his forgiveness became mine – but it was never about me. All was for his name’s sake!
“Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name's sake.” (Psalm 79:9)