SDA Sabbath School Lessons
Monday July 1, 1996

(John 3:18

What important result of the cross did Jesus uphold to Nicodemus? John 3:18.

Freedom from condemnation implies forgiveness. Because Jesus died for all human sin, He is justly able to forgive those who accept His sacrifice and seek forgiveness. "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8: 1, RSV). Paul proceeds to explain what it means to be "in Christ Jesus." It means to be set free by the Holy Spirit from "the law of sin and death" (verse 2). It means that "the just requirement of the law" is "fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit" (verse 4). Forgiveness, resulting in freedom from condemnation, involves much more than the elimination of guilt incurred by past sins.

What definition of forgiveness would vou deduce from the following passages? Luke 1:77; 4:18; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:13, 14.

The Greek word for forgiveness (aphesis) used in each of these passages means more than a heavenly declaration of pardon. The word means "release from captivity" (William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament). In Luke 4:18 the "deliverance" of the captives is forgiveness (aphesin). The last phrase of the verse translates literally: "to send forth the crushed in forgiveness (deliverance)." Divine forgiveness includes deliverance from the dominion of sin. In the New Testament, forgiveness is salvation, redemption, purification from sin. "God's forgiveness is not merely a judicial act by which He sets us free from condemnation. It is not only forgiveness for sin, but reclaiming from sin. It is the outflow of redeeming love that transforms the heart." -Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 114.

"To be pardoned in the way that Christ pardons, is not only to be forgiven, but to be renewed in the spirit of our mind."-Review and Herald, Aug. 19, 1890.

Forgiveness includes (1) Christ's taking away our guilt by virtue of the fact that He bore it on the cross; (2) Christ's transforming our hearts by the Holy Spirit. God's love is unconditional; He loves both sinners and saints and works for the salvation of all. But forgiveness is never unconditional. Forgiveness is granted on condition that we accept Christ's sacrifice on the cross and ask for pardon of our sins. (See John 3:18; 1 John 1:9.)