God uses believers to forgive sins

JESUS SPEAKING

                Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

                When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.  Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.  So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you!  As the Father has sent me, I also send you.”  And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20: 19-23.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

             Jesus, although flesh and blood was no longer bound by the physical world.  He simply manifested himself in the center of a locked room.  They were scared and hiding from the Jews who wished to kill them too, and so Jesus gave them his peace (the presence of God in your life today is a source of peace.)  With his breath he gave them the Holy Spirit, and with it, all of the authority that God had given him.  They were given the authority to forgive the sins.  This scripture is the reason why Catholic Priests have confessionals; from this scripture it would appear they are correct in doing so (the ‘hail Mary’s’ and penances are not in the bible however.)  Those who are Christ’s Apostles, the ones who are sent out in to the world, have the authority to forgive sins (not in themselves, but by God through them.) (This does not include simply Catholic Priests, but all those who have given their lives to Jesus Christ.)  [Word of caution:  From the fullness of scripture, it is apparent that the types of sins that are forgiven are those that are not repeated on a regular basis.  Many in the Catholic faith (as well as other faiths) abuse drugs and alcohol, engage in promiscuity, adultery, premarital sex, and go to church confessional and believe they have been forgiven.  Then they leave and continue sinning until the next confessional.  Those sins are retained, because there is no repentance.  Repentance is the turning away from that sin.  Jesus continuously forgave sins with a warning; “Go and sin no more.”]

             ‘Sin’ is a medieval term that just means ‘missing the mark.’  Archers used to get drunk and compete in archery contests.  When they missed the target it was called a ‘sin.’  I played basketball in high school, and I shot thousands of jump shots, but every time, I was aiming for something; just like those medieval archers were trying to hit the mark.  Christians as well have a target; the target is Jesus Christ.  As believers we are called to aim for Him; to be like Him; to be pleasing to Him.  We are human, but that doesn’t mean we can throw up our hands, continue on in sin without restraint, and be forgiven for those sins.

             Today, many are struggling with sins, but many more are struggling in a life of sin, and that is a very big difference.  If your life is filled with unrestrained sin, in any area, you can turn away from that sin and be forgiven.  If you choose you can find an apostle, a priest, pastor, even a coworker who is filled with God’s Spirit, and confess your sins to them.  When your confession is coupled with true repentance, God himself has forgiven you of that sin (or that life of sin.)  You are clean, you are pure, and you are forgiven.  [Note:  Many people do not feel the need to go anywhere but directly to God to ask for forgiveness; the Lord’s prayer for instance says, ‘Forgive us our sins,’ and is directed straight to God.  Because of Jesus, believers can speak directly to God, and in turn, be directly forgiven by Him; but a person who confesses to an Apostle is also asking for God’s direct forgiveness, because it is not the Apostle that is forgiving, but God through them.  There are some benefits to confessing sin to another human being; sometimes confessing to a physical person can be more tangible.  [[One Final Note:  Many persons who confess their sins to God believe they are forgiven, but there can be another part that needs completion before that forgiveness is permanent.  Often times, we must also ask the person we have sinned against for forgiveness as well.  An example would be; if we stole money from someone twenty years ago, and then we come to Christ and ask God for forgiveness for that sin, we are obliged to repay the money we took from them (when it is in our power to do so; also, get counsel before making amends; some amends can do more damaging than good.)]]

             “Heavenly Father, we come before You and we ask that You Forgive us our sins, and that if need be Lord, you give us the strength to go before another believer and ask them to forgive us under the power of Your authority.  Lord we ask that You would bring to our remembrance anything that we have done in which we are in need of forgiveness.  Also Lord, if we are Apostles, give us the boldness to stretch out to others who need forgiveness, and to not be ashamed to grant the forgiveness You have given us the privilege of bestowing upon them.  We love You Lord, we thank You, and we praise You, and we ask and pray all of these things, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

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