Lesson 3 - Jesus, The Way To Forgiveness

Lesson 3 - Jesus, The Way To Forgiveness

Jesus, The Way To Forgiveness



We have seen that Jesus is The Way To A Better Life, even here on earth. But much more importantly, Jesus is the way to forgiveness for our sins!

To understand why we need forgiveness and how Jesus provides the way to forgiveness is the purpose of this lesson. It is important, then, that we begin by properly defining sin...


Many people have The Wrong Conception of sin. They think it is nothing more than a violation of human relationships; that an action is sinful ONLY if it is frowned upon by society, violates their own conscience, or is harmful to someone else.

Such a misconception of sin leads people to a misconception of how the problem of sin can be corrected. For example, some believe that correcting sin involves nothing more than making things right with other people. With this misconception, they think they are forgiven of all past actions if they simply change their behavior.

But what is The Biblical Definition of sin? The Bible actually defines three different types of sin. First, there is the direct violation of God's Law. The apostle John describes sin in this way:

Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. (1 John 3:4)

For example, where God's law tells us not to steal, we sin when we steal something. This is commonly referred to as the Sin Of Commission (where we commit something that displeases God). Another kind of sin is found in James' epistle:

Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin. (James 4:17)

This is the Sin Of Omission, where you fail (omit) to do that which you know to do. For example, when I know Jesus tells me to love my enemies, I sin when I do not display love towards them. The apostle Paul mentions yet another kind of sin:

But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin. (Romans 14:23)

For lack of better words, this is the Sin Of Violating Your Conscience. In this case, the thing you are doing may be right in and of itself, but if you cannot do it with a clear conscience, you are sinning! The example found in Romans 14 pertained to someone who because of earlier religious training before becoming a Christian had difficulty eating meat without a guilty conscience. Paul would have the brother whose faith is weak to abstain from eating meats, and even calls upon brethren who are strong in faith to be careful not to put any enticements in the brother's way which might wound his conscience.

So we see that sin is more than simply a violation of human relationships (though it often involves that); sin is a serious matter that involves God and His Will! How serious is sin? By considering the consequences of sin as described in the Bible, we begin to appreciate its terrible nature. As Paul wrote in the book of Romans:

For the wages of sin is death... (Romans 6:23)

This "death" of which he speaks is ultimately described as the "second death" which involves eternal torment for those who die in their sins:

"But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (Revelation 21:8)

Why is sin considered so bad that unforgiven sinners must experience such torment? To understand why, we must appreciate...


God's nature is such that it is very difficult for a sinner to be acceptable before Him. First, God is supremely holy. His holiness makes any "truce" with sin impossible. The Psalmist understood this aspect of God's nature:

For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, Nor shall evil dwell with You. The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity. You shall destroy those who speak falsehood; The LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man. (Psalms 5:4-6)

Because God's holiness cannot tolerate sin, sin serves to separate man from God:

But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear. (Isaiah 59:2)

Not only is God supremely holy, He is also supremely just. His justice demands that sin be punished accordingly. As examples of the strict justice of God, notice what happened to the sons of Aaron when all they did was offer in sacrifice something God had not commanded:

Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. And Moses said to Aaron, "This is what the LORD spoke, saying: 'By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified.'" So Aaron held his peace. (Leviticus 10:1-3)

Even Moses and Aaron, the servants God used to lead the children of Israel, had to learn the hard way that sin must be justly dealt with. When they struck the rock instead of speaking to it as God commanded, they lost the right to enter into the promised land of Canaan:

Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them." (Numbers 20:12)

And since we have already seen that the ulimate penalty for sin is eternal torment, all this tells us two things:

  • How holy God must be!
  • How terrible sin must be!

As we begin to realize these things, we should see that man is in a terrible predicament. For you see, the Bible has judged that all of mankind is guilty of sins:

...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23)

And the very nature of God (holy and just) demands separation of sinners from God and punishment for our sins!

Can man do anything to help himself? There are no "works" that a person can do to make himself innocent of the guilt of his or her sins. For example, a man who commits murder is not made innocent of that crime by living the rest of his life by the law! Yet many people think that they save themselves by balancing their good deeds against their sins!

But sin of any kind is so repulsive to God's holiness that His justice requires punishment. Look again at the sins referred to earlier:

"But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (>Revelation 21:8)

Whether the sin is fear, lack of faith, lying, or murder, the "second death" is reserved for those who are guilty. Do you think that your sins are few and therefore not worthy of such punishment? Even is you commit just one sin, the nature of sin in the sight of a holy God is such that you are as guilty as one who broke every law:

For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. (James 2:10)

Since we are all sinners (Ro 3:23), it appears that we are all doomed to suffer God's justice! Is there any way that God can be both holy and just and yet allow sinful man to be "reconciled" to Him? Yes, there is, and Jesus is The Way!


God has provided the way by offering Jesus as a "propitiation" for our sins:

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

The word "propitiation" originally referred to an act or sacrifice that a man offered designed to appease a god. As used in the Bible, it refers to that which God has done (not man). In other words, what man cannot do for himself, God has done! He has offered His Son Jesus on the cross as a means to appease His justice. Such was foretold by Isaiah nearly 700 years earlier:

But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5-6)
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:10-12)

Notice that by the act of Christ's suffering the punishment due us for our own sins, we are forgiven of them. As Paul would later write:

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. (Ephesians 1:7)

Through Christ's death on the cross, we can come back to God, having been forgiven of our sins! In this way, God is able to:

  • Preserve His holiness when we are in His presence (for our sins have been forgiven by the blood of Christ)
  • Maintain His justice (for our sins have been properly punished by the death of Christ)
  • All the while demonstrating His love, grace, and mercy!

And so, Jesus is "The Way" to forgiveness of sins, for He has been made a "propitiation" for our sins! But how does one receive the wonderful blessing of having Jesus as the "propitiation" for our sins?


After His death for our sins, and following His glorious resurrection from the dead, Jesus charged His apostles with the commission to spread the good news:

And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 16:15-16)

We read in the book of Acts of how the apostles carried out this "Great Commission". In chapter two, just ten days after Jesus ascended into heaven, we find Peter proclaiming the gospel for the first time. After presenting evidence that Jesus has truly risen from the dead and ascended to the right hand of God, Peter comes to climax of his sermon:

"Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." (Acts 2:36)

Yes, this same Jesus they had crucified only fifty days earlier was the actual Lord and Messiah they had been looking for. Evidently many people believed what Peter said, for we read next:

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37)

"What shall we do?", they cried. What can anyone do, who has realized that they are sinners in need of salvation? What Peter told them is what we should tell anyone today:

Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38)

Peter told these people who evidently believed (as evidenced by their question in verse 37) that they needed to repent and be baptized. In similar fashion, when Saul of Tarsus (later known as the apostle Paul) had seen Jesus on the road to Damascus, and had been praying and fasting for three days afterward, he was told by Ananias whom the Lord had sent to him:

'And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.' (Acts 22:16)

Just as Jesus commanded in (Mark 16:16), when someone wanted to be saved through the blood of Jesus Christ, in the New Testament they were told to be baptized for the remission (forgiveness) of their sins upon their believing in Jesus and repenting of their sins. Faith (which includes confessing Jesus as Lord, Ro 10:9-10), repentance and baptism were the conditions by which one could receive Jesus and enjoy the blessings of forgiveness of sins!

Receive Jesus in baptism? Yes, as the apostle stated in his letter to the Galatians:

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (Galatians 3:27)

Note well: "as many of you" (no more and no less) "as have been baptized into Christ" (as Jesus, Peter, etc., commanded) "have put on Christ" (have received Jesus and all the blessings He offers).

Thus, in obedience to the Lord in faith, repentance and baptism we can take advantage of the wonderful grace of God, Who offered Jesus for our sins!


I leave with you the fact that Jesus is "The Way To Forgiveness"; indeed, the only way, for no other way has by offered by God by which we can be reconciled to Him. As Jesus said:

"I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6)

And no other way devised by man solves the dilemma between man's sin and the holiness and justice of God!

Have you accepted Jesus in the way He commanded and His apostles taught? Have you trusted in Him for salvation (faith), made the decision to turn from your sins (repentance), and been immersed for the forgiveness of your sins (baptism)?

If not, why not? Let Jesus be your way to forgiveness today!