We're going to talk today about the two laws of pardon. The Scriptures reveal different instructions on how to obtain forgiveness. To those who are outside of Christ, to the alien sinners we see these instructions.
- Acts 2:38
- Acts 22:16
For someone who is not a Christian, who has not been forgiven of their sins, we can call this the first law of pardon.
To erring Christians guilty of sin we read these instructions. An example of this is found in Simon.
- Acts 8:22
And, we see that he did ask Peter to pray for him, thus we believe that he was forgiven of sin.
- 1 John 1:19
Thus, we can see the difference between these two methods of pardon which can be described as God's two laws of pardon.
For the alien sinner, there is the first law of pardon.
- Hear the gospel
- Believe that Jesus is the Christ, who died for our sins
- Repent of sins
- Confess faith in Christ
- Be baptized for the remission of sins
We might call this the first law of pardon. And the second is for the erring Christian, which might be called the second law of pardon.
- Repent of sins
- Pray to God
- Confess sins to God
As we evangelize, we often spend much time explaining the first law. As Christians seeking to maintain our relationship with God, we should be equally concerned with the second law.
So, let us take a closer look at the second law of pardon.
What Must Christians Do to be Pardoned?
The Christian must repent.
Note that repentance is required in both laws of pardon. As in the case of Simon, repentance is required for the erring Christian.
- Acts 2:38
- Acts 8:22
What does it mean to repent? Literally, it means, a change of mind.
"...signifies to change one's mind or purpose" and "this change of mind involves both a turning from sin and a turning to God." — Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary New Testament Words
Thus, it involves deciding to stop sinning. It involves a change of mind that I'll stop sinning. Stopping the sin isn't necessarily repentance, it has to start with a desire to stop. Just as the alien sinner is called to do so in becoming a Christian. So, the erring Christian must make a decision to stop sinning, to return to the Lord.
Repentance is produced by "godly sorrow."
- 2 Corinthians 7:9-10
Godly sorrow is a heart of recognition that I've done wrong and need to repent. Worldly sorrow is sorrow that you've perhaps been caught, but no desire to change. It is a sorrow for having sinned against God.
- Psalm 51:4
He says I am worthy of death. When you speak against me, judge against me, it is because I am guilty. He recognized his sin. David has a sorrow that he has sinned, not that he got caught, but that he was sorry for what he had done. He wanted to do better, to change. He pleaded for God's forgiveness.
Repentance is also prompted by God's goodness.
- Romans 2:4
Knowing that God is a God of mercy is a motivation to repent. Awareness of God's grace and kindness should lead us to repent. Frequent meditation on the Word of God will help in this regard as we come to understand God's grace, mercy, and love. Repentance will be manifested by a remarkable change.
- 2 Corinthians 7:11
It led to a change of action, they sought after a godly sort and turned back to God and went back to the right way. When someone repents we see a change.
A change such as:
- diligence and zeal to do right
- indignation for our sins
- and a desire to make right.
So, the first step for erring Christians, for those who have sinned after becoming a Christian, is to repent of their sins.
We must pray.
So, Peter told Simon when he sinned after having believed and was baptized.
- Acts 8:22
Let's compare this to God's first law of pardon. Baptism is an act of faith, in which we make an appeal.
- 1 Peter 3:21
Prayer is also an act of faith, as we appeal for forgiveness. Yet alien sinners are commanded to repent and be baptized.
- Acts 2:38
While erring Christians are commanded to repent and pray. The difference, between these, is understandable.
Before baptism, one is not a child of God.
- Galatians 3:26-27
- John 3:3-5
After baptism, prayer is a privilege for those who are God's children.
- Galatians 4:6-7
The Aramaic term here, Abba, is for father, it is a personal term, My Father. As a child of God, you have the ability to cry to God. Before baptism, we aren't a child of God and cannot pray to Him, but after becoming a Christian we are children of God and can call to Him. Praying is effective for the Christian because of our two intercessors. Jesus, who understands our feelings.
- Hebrews 4:14-16; 7:24-25
Jesus understands our feelings. He knows what we are going through and makes intercession for us. The Holy Spirit, also, in a sense, acts as an intercessor for us to communicate our feelings.
- Romans 8:26-27
Sometimes, in prayer, we don't know what to pray for, we don't know what we need. We don't know how to communicate, thus, the Holy Spirit communicates on our behalf. Christ, of course, is our intercessor, but the Spirit will help us to communicate with the Father.
As we pray, we must do so with humility. Compare the difference between the Pharisee and the publican.
- Luke 18:9-14
God favors the humble and contrite in spirit.
- Psalm 34:18
- Isaiah 66:1-2
Having repented, the erring Christian humbly needs to pray.
We must confess.
So, John wrote to Christians, to experience God's forgiveness, we must confess our sins.
- 1 John 1:9
Let's compare this to God's first law of pardon where confession is commanded, but not the confession of sins. Instead, confession is made concerning Jesus Christ.
- Romans 10:9-10
This is a confession of the belief that Jesus is the Son of God. For those outside the body of Christ, the alien sinner needs to make this great confession that Jesus is the Christ.
For the Christian, what we confess is something different. We are to confess our sins.
- Acts 8:37
The word, confess, comes from the Greek word homologeo.
"...to speak the same thing; to assent, accord, agree with," denotes, "to confess, declare, admit" by way of admitting oneself guilty of what one is accused of, the result of inward conviction,"— Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary New Testament Words
Regarding sin, it means to admit sin openly and honestly without hiding it or offering excuses for it.
- Daniel 9:4-6,10-11,15
Notice that Daniel on behalf of the nation admitted to the sin of the people. He made confession. That's how we are to confess to God, specifically. We need to pray specifically. God knows what we did, but we need to make confession, putting into words, our recognition of our sin. Confession of sins should be made continuously. John literally wrote "If we keep confessing our sins..." we need to continually confess our sin, for both known and unknown sins.
- Psalm 19:12
Sometimes we sin, without knowing what we do, and we are to confess asking forgiveness for those as well as our known sin. Confession is always made to God, and sometimes to each other.
- James 5:16
Sometimes, we need help from others. So we make confession to one another, asking each other to pray for us. So as the erring Christian prays and confession of sins should be made.
The Second Law of Pardon is Simple
We are to repent and pray, confessing our sins. To encourage us to be diligent in taking advantage of this wonderful grace, consider what will God do?
As John promised in encouraging us to confess our sins.
God will be faithful.
- 1 John 1:9
This means He will be true to His promise. What promise? The promise found in the prophecy of the New Covenant found in Jeremiah, repeated in Hebrews.
- Jeremiah 31:31-34
- Hebrews 8:7-13
- Hebrews 8:12
Thus, we have the assurance of God's response. God will be just. As John promised in encouraging us to confess our sins.
- 1 John 1:9
This means He will be righteous in forgiving our sins. How can this be? It is true, by virtue of the cleansing blood of Jesus. A cleansing that was alluded to earlier.
- 1 John 1:7
There is that continual cleansing that takes place. Verse nine makes it clear that He continually cleanses us from our sins.
So, God can be both just and the justifier of those who has faith in Christ.
- Romans 3:24-26
Thus, we have the basis for God's response. He is faithful to His promise and is just in his forgiving. God will forgive and He will cleanse us from our sin.
No longer will the guilt of our sins be held against us. He will “...cleanse us from all unrighteousness...”
- 1 John 1:9
The word "all" is reassuring. There is no level of sin that is beyond God's ability to forgive the penitent Christian who confesses their sin. Thus, we have the blessedness of God's response.
With the second law of pardon, a Christian who repents, prays, and confesses will:
- experience the continual cleansing of the blood of Christ
- enjoy the blessedness of knowing your sins are forgiven
Why would any Christian hesitate to obey the second law of pardon? David was a saved man when he committed that sin with Bathsheba, yet he wanted to have that joy of salvation, once again, which he was given with confession and repentance. You can have the same joy of salvation as when you were baptized into Christ. For you rise from prayer as cleansed from sin as when you arose from the watery grave.
If you want to have the same joy, the same assurance of salvation, as that new babe in Christ who comes forth to a new life, then take advantage of the second law of pardon.
- Isaiah 55:6-7
Today if you are here as a child of God who has turned back to sin, we urge you to turn back to God in repentance. If you are one who has not obeyed the gospel of Christ, we urge you to obey Him today.
If we can assist you in repentance and confession of sin, or in becoming a Christian, please contact us.