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You are forgiven

A woman distraught over her sins finds Jesus’ love and forgiveness at the cross.

She sits across from me. Hunched over. Shoulders slumped. Hands covering her face. Sobs convulsing her.

Patiently I watch. I wait. It’s taken weeks to get to this point. Weeks of listening and learning about her scarred past. Her failures. Her regrets. The sins that haunt her. Their life-crippling consequences that scream at her every day, “You are nothing but a failure! A waste of space!”

It’s been weeks too of my wielding God’s holy law as a scalpel. But the scalpel was always brushed aside. Excuses were made. Blame was shifted to others. Anger was directed at me for being judgmental. But not this time. This time the Spirit’s sword slices deep—between soul and spirit (Hebrews 4:12,13). This time her heart is laid bare. She is left—empty. Dead.

I wait a few moments more until her sobbing subsides. She sits up and lowers her hands before wiping away her tears with the tissue I gave her. Then she pours out her heart. “I have sinned! I can blame no one else. I have wrecked my life. I have wounded my family and hurt anyone who has tried to help me. I have failed my Lord. I am so sorry for what I have done! Can the Lord ever forgive me?”

I share another tissue. Then slowly, gently, I reach out my hand and cover hers. I look her straight in the eye and announce, “The Lord God has washed away every last filthy stench of your sin in the blood of Christ. You are forgiven!”

There is a moment of confusion in her eyes. Then relief. Joy. Peace. Then words of thanks, thanks, and nothing but thanks keep tumbling from her lips!

Even as she keeps thanking me, we race into the Scriptures for proof that what I just said is true.

  • “Come now, and let us reason together, says the LORD. Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be as white as snow. Though they are as red as crimson, they will be like wool” (Isaiah 1:18).
  • “He will have compassion on us again. He will overcome our guilty deeds. You will throw all their sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19).
  • “But if we walk in the light, just as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:7-9).

I point to the cross that hangs on the wall and to the One who shouldered all her sins. All her guilt, all her shame—Jesus paid for it in full (see John 19:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

Then by faith we kneel together outside Easter’s empty tomb. She weeps again, but this time they’re tears of joy.

Our time together has come to an end. She gets up, hugs me, and thanks me yet again before walking out the door. But for what? All I did was tell her, “This is love” (1 John 4:10).

The Scripture references used in this article are from the Evangelical Heritage Version.

Author: Glenn L. Schwanke
Volume 110, Number 02
Issue: February 2023

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