God’s Forgiving of Sins has Conditions

2 Chronicles 7:11-15 ESV

“Thus Solomon finished the house of the Lord and the king’s house. All that Solomon had planned to do in the house of the Lord and in his own house he successfully accomplished. Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place.”

If My People

In the time of Solomon, the house of the Lord was a physical temple built by human hands according to God’s instructions. The house of the Lord now is not a physical building but it is a spiritual building, and we who believe in Jesus are the living stones of that building with Jesus Christ as our chief cornerstone. We, like living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (see 1 Peter 2:5; cf. Romans 12:1-2).

We who have died with Christ to sin and who are living to Christ and to his righteousness, in the power of God, are going through a process called sanctification in which God is making us holy. And as part of that process he disciplines us and he allows us to suffer and to face trials and tribulations in order to humble us, and to teach us his ways, and to strengthen us in our walks of faith, and to teach us to rely on him and not on ourselves. But how we respond to those trials determines the effects of them on our lives.

[Rom 5:3-5; Phil 3:7-11; 1 Pet 1:6-7; 1 Pet 4:12-17; 1 Thess 3:1-5; Jas 1:2-4; Matt 5:10-12; Lu 21:12-19; 2 Co 1:3-11; Heb 12:3-12; Jn 15:1-11]

If we humble ourselves before the Lord, and if we pray and we seek God’s face, and if we turn from our wicked ways, no matter how small or big, then our Lord will hear from heaven, and he will forgive our sin. But does that fit with New Testament teaching? I believe it does. For our Lord sets conditions for his forgiveness of our sins to take place even under the New Covenant.

For one, we must confess our sins and we must walk in the light as Jesus is in the light. And confessing sin is not a mere verbal acknowledgment of sin but it is agreeing with God and having the same mind as God about our sins, which includes our need to turn from our sins to follow Jesus Christ in obedience to his commands. For if we say we have fellowship with God while we walk in sin, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin (see 1 John 1:5-10).

That Isn’t All

But that isn’t all. If we say we know Jesus, but we do not keep (obey) his commandments (his instructions to us, his church), then we are liars who do not live by the truth. We don’t really know him, which means our sins are not forgiven us. And if we keep on sinning in practice, in deliberate and habitual sin, we also don’t know the Lord, for no one born of God makes a practice of sinning. And whoever does not practice righteousness, and whoever does not love his fellow humans, is also not of God (see 1 John 2:3-6; 1 John 3:4-10).

And then let’s look at some other verses. Jesus said that if anyone would come after him he must deny self and take up his cross daily (daily die to sin and to self) and follow (obey) him. For if we hold on to our lives (of living in sin and for self) we will lose them for eternity. But if we die daily to sin and to self for the sake of Jesus, we will be saved for eternity. And he said that not everyone who says to him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one DOING the will of God the Father who is in heaven (see Luke 9:23-26; Matthew 7:21-23).

And then we are warned in several passages of Scripture against making sin our practice, i.e. against deliberately and habitually committing sin against our Lord – such sins as sexual immorality, sensuality, idolatry, fits of anger, drunkenness, orgies, and the like. If we make a practice of sins such as these we will not inherit the kingdom of God, meaning our sins are not forgiven because we did not turn from our wicked ways and we did not seek God’s face (his divine character and will for our lives).

[Gal 5:16-24; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10; Eph 5:3-6; Col 3:5-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Heb 10:26-31; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Jn 15:1-11; Rev. 2-3; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

So, yes, what this passage in the Old Testament teaches is repeated for us in the New Testament, under the New Covenant. So, if we do not humble ourselves, and pray, and seek God’s face, and turn from our wicked ways, then he will not hear from heaven, and he will not forgive our sin.

I Will Lift My Eyes

An Original Work / December 12, 2012
Based off Psalms 121-125

I will lift my eyes to my Lord Most High.
My help comes from Him, who saved me from sin.
He will not let your foot slip, and He who watches will not sleep.
Our Lord watches over you, and your life He will keep.
I will lift my eyes to my Lord Most High.
My help comes from Him, who saved me from sin.
I give thanks to Him.

I will lift my eyes to my God in heav’n.
I look to the Lord. My sins, He’s forgiv’n.
Because of His great love for us, He made us alive with Christ.
Through the kindness of our Savior, He gave us new life.
I will lift my eyes to my God in heav’n.
I look to the Lord. My sins, He’s forgiv’n;
My home, now in heav’n.

Praise be to the Lord, who is on our side.
Our help found in Him. He gives peace within.
Those who trust will ne’er be shaken. God will supply all we need.
Our Lord has done great things for us. He’s our friend, indeed!
Praise be to the Lord, who is on our side.
Our help found in Him. He gives peace within.
I can count on Him.

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