God's Right to Remit Sin
And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
Most of us think of sin as an outward act that violates God’s law, but Jesus taught differently. Sin is committed in the heart. Jesus said in Matthew 5:27-28, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” 1John 3:15 says, “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” Sin is not what we do; sin is what we are. We are born guilty of sin, and we cannot escape our sinful nature. We lust, we covet, and we commit many other sins in the heart even if we never act on those things. We are all guilty.
Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” Man may appear to other men to be good on the outside, but no matter how good he seems, the fact is that his heart is wicked. Man may not know another man’s heart, but God knows every man’s heart. And in every man’s heart is the lust of the flesh. The Apostle John says in 1 John 2:16, “ For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” John is describing every creature of his world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—those things are of the world and in every creature that is of this world. We’re all familiar with Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Paul said in Romans 7:7, “Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” If there had been no law, there could be no sin, but God gave us a standard, a yardstick by which to measure our actions and our thoughts. If we know God’s law says, “Thou shalt not covet,” then we know if we lust after something someone else has, then we have sinned.
Romans 6:23 says that the wages of sin is death. God gave Adam the law and Adam transgressed God’s law and brought death on all mankind. Adam violated God’s law, so it was God’s right to determine the punishment, which is death to Adam and every son of Adam. If any man of Adam’s race avoids the punishment of death, it is because God, whose law was broken, remits the sin. Remit means to forgive or pardon. And since sin is against God, only God can determine what will enable him to forgive. God’s anger against man’s sin must be appeased, and only God has the right to say what must be done to calm his anger.
Hebrews 9:22 declares, “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” God decided, and rightfully so, that the covering would be the blood of an animal that was without spot or blemish. From the time Adam fell and was banished from the Garden of Eden, it has been a necessity for sinful man to have a covering before he can approach a Holy God. Immediately after Adam and Eve’s transgressed God’s law in the Garden, God himself provided a covering. Genesis 3:21 says, “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” In order for God to have clothed Adam and Eve with skins, the animals had to be slain. Here in the Garden, God is establishing his requirement for the shedding of blood to cover the sins of man. Because sin is against God, it is God’s right to determine what it will take for him to forgive. If someone offends you or betrays you, then no one else can tell you what must take place for you to forgive; only you can make that determination. How man re- enters a right relationship with God is God’s call and no one else’s.
Another word used to explain what God does in pardoning the sinner is “justify.” Justify means to free from sin. In justifying the sinner, God says, “You’re free of the sin you committed against me.” If someone offends you or betrays you, and you forgive him, you are freeing him of the offense or betrayal. You are saying, “The offense is nullified. It no longer has the power to make me angry or hurt.” Only you can decide what it will take for you to be able to forgive. God has decided that it would take the shed blood of a perfect lamb to cover the sins of those he would justify.
Justification is God’s act of making a sinner righteous before Him. God illustrates this act throughout the old testament. From the time Adam fell and was banished from the Garden of Eden, it has been a necessity for sinful man to have a covering before he can approach a Holy God. Immediately after Adam and Eve’s transgressed God’s law in the Garden, God himself provided a covering. Genesis 3:21 says, “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” In order for God to have clothed Adam and Eve with skins, the animals had to be slain. Here in the Garden, God is announcing his requirement for the shedding of blood to cover the sins of man. This first incident of bloodshed in the Old Testament foreshadows Christ’s blood that was shed to cover the sins of His people. But even before Adam’s sin, God had prepared a way to justify His people. Revelation 13:8 calls Jesus Christ the lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Even before Adam was created, God knew man would transgress His law and would need to be restored to a right relationship with his Creator.
In addition to having the right to determine what is necessary for Him to forgive sinners, God retains the right to determine who will be forgiven. God told Moses in Exodus 33:19, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.” Paul reminds the Christians at Rome what God told Moses. Paul says in Romans 9:15, “For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” God’s mercy to those whom He has chosen to show mercy saves them from His wrath. God’s wrath was taken out on His Beloved Son instead of those He chose to forgive. When Christ came down here and died on the cross 1900 year ago, that was long before you were born. But he came because he loved you and because he would redeem you and because he would pay your sin debt. In John chapter six verse 37 Christ said, “All that my Father giveth me shall come to me. And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. I came down from heaven not to do my will nor your will or anybody else’s will. I came to do the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which have sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but raise it up again at the last day.” “Herein is love, not that we loved God.” But, brother, I will tell you this. You don’t love him enough now to be saved. You are saved because he loves you. God is not merciful to you because you are good. He is merciful to you because he is good. God is not merciful to you because you are gracious. He is merciful to you because he is gracious. God doesn’t come your way because you love him. You don’t love him enough now to influence his affections.
The only reason we can love God at all is because He first loved us. God did not have to forgive any of us. But it was His right to do the choosing. It was His right to forgive those He chose to forgive. It would have been perfectly just and fair for God to let all men perish. That God would rescue any of the human race speaks of His mercy and compassion. Man declares that God is not fair if he doesn’t give all a chance for Salvation. The truth is that God doesn’t have to give any of us an opportunity to be saved. The worldview of Salvation these days is that God must let man decide of his own free will if he wants to go to Heaven or Hell. What I want to know is “Does the Creator of the Universe have free will?” Whose will is more important—God’s or man’s?
Actually, God is the only one who has free will. Man’s will is influenced by too many outside forces to be free. Every decision that man makes is influenced by something that causes him to make the decision he does. His decision to eat is influenced by his physical hunger. His decision to go straight home from work instead of spending time with his buddies is influenced by the reaction his wife will have if he goes home late. His choice of career is influenced by factors such as salary, chance for advancement, enjoyment of the work he will do. No matter what kind of decision man makes, his will is not free, but controlled by all kinds of things that influence his decisions. The strongest influence on man’s will is sin. Man’s will is in bondage to sin. Man and sin are tied together with chains that only God has the power to break. Only God’s will is completely free of any outside influences. Man can do nothing that will influence God’s decision to have mercy. Paul declares in Romans 9 that God loved Jacob and hated Esau when they were still in their mother’s womb, neither of them having done any good or evil. No man has had any influence on God’s determination of who is His elect. Paul explains in Titus 3:5, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” God’s mercy was bestowed on us not because of any works we have done—and that includes believing, receiving Christ, walking an aisle, or praying a prayer. Salvation is purely by the mercy God has the right to bestow as it pleases Him. And in 2 Timothy 1:9 Paul tells about God “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” By God’s free choice, according to his own purpose and grace, we became His children before the world began-before we were ever born and could have any choice in the matter. It was God’s right to exercise His choice of a people whom He would redeem, and He made that decision according to his perfect will.
Our heavenly Father God has the right to adopt those he pleases into his family. After all, it is God’s family. He has the free will and the power to adopt whomever He pleases. Paul says in Ephesians 1:4-5, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.” Those are not my words; they are scripture. God’s adoption of His children took place, according to the scriptures, before the foundation of the world. I want you to tell me, if you can, what man was there when the adoption took place to say, “God, I don’t want to be adopted. You have to give me a choice.” Man wasn’t created until the sixth day. There was no man available to protest God’s adoption of his children or to prevent the adoption from taking place. Another word for God’s adoption of His children before time is “election.” Election means choice. Everywhere in the Bible that the term election is used, it means God’s choice of His children, those who will eventually be conformed to the image of Christ. Men don’t elect God. God elects men, and it is his sovereign choice in election. No man can elect himself; he has no authority; he has no dominion; he has no influence on God’s Sovereign decisions, especially those made before man ever existed.
As the Sovereign Creator of the Universe God has the right to enter into covenants according to His own pleasure. Every covenant God entered into with man has been of God’s initiating. Neither Noah nor Abraham nor Moses nor David suggested that God enter into a covenant with them. All of these covenants were made by God with man, and man broke each one of them. They were made for God’s glory and man’s benefit, but man could not keep a single one of them. But the covenant of Grace that God made with His Son before the foundation of the world embraces every heir of promise and has never been broken. Jesus said in John 6:37-39, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. Satan tries to twist Jesus’ words saying “everyone that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out,” but Jesus didn’t say that. He said, “All the Father giveth me shall come to me, and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” He will not cast out the ones God gave Him before the foundation of the world. They are the heirs of promise, God’s elect. It was His right to choose them and His choice was of His own free will, not influenced by any goodness or faith or belief in man that would have inclined Him to save man.
The covenant of Grace made between God the Father and Christ the Son before the world began determined every heir of the promise (every recipient of God’s Salvation). In that Covenant of Grace, God wrote the name of every one of His children in the Lamb’s book of life and gave it to the Son. In Revelation 5, the angel asks “Who is worthy to open the book?” Only Christ the Son, the lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, the redeemer of the elect of God was found worthy. Revelations 5:9 says, “Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” All of those whose names are found written in the Lamb’s book of life were written there before the foundation of the world. God gave them to Christ in the everlasting covenant. Not one name will be added nor will one name be removed. When Christ comes to claim his bride, they will all be present and accounted for.
No one but God has a legitimate right to rule over the universe. He is the absolute sovereign within His own creation, and therefore the one Person to whom all honor is due. Sovereignty is God's moral authority and right to order the universe however He chooses. Only God is qualified to be the ultimate judge of the morally accountable creatures He has created, and to hold them responsible for their actions. Man is responsible for his actions of obedience, not for his choice of where he will spend eternity.
Man has had the notion that he can be like God and make decisions that only God has the right or the power to make ever since Satan twisted God’s word in the garden. Satan contradicted God when he said to Eve, “Ye shall not surely die.” Then he proceeded to tell Eve that eating of the fruit would make her like God, knowing good and evil. She liked the idea, so she ate of the fruit and gave some to Adam who also ate of the fruit. Ever since Adam and Eve fell, man has had the idea that God can’t tell him what to do. And Satan keeps that false idea in man’s head by constantly reminding him that no one can violate his rights. Satan does not want man to recognize God’s rights. He wants nothing more than to keep man in opposition to God. And after a man is born again, his struggle with Satan intensifies. Satan especially doesn’t want God’s children to be obedient; they might be too much of a good influence on other people. The idea that man has a free will to choose eternal salvation is a lie that Satan has concocted in an attempt to keep man in rebellion to God. It is Satan who perpetuates the idea that man can be saved and still live his sinful lifestyle. Christians living in sin sets the example that Satan wants in order to ruin the influence of God’s children and the influence of the church.
God’s right to remit sin, to justify a people, to adopt those He has forgiven and redeemed, is not about man’s choice, it’s about God’s choice. It’s not about man’s free will; it’s about God’s free will. It is God who is the provider of Salvation; it is Christ who made it possible for God to forgive those he chose out of the fallen race of Adam. It is Christ’s shed blood that appeased God’s wrath and covered the sins of God’s chosen and renewed them to a right relationship with God. But man seems to have the mistaken idea that salvation is all about man and that God will allow whatever man’s free will decides. We must put aside the false notion that man is the center of God’s plan of salvation. Christ is the center and the plan is to glorify God. The fact that God’s chosen people are the recipients of His mercy and grace can only be to the glory of a Sovereign God not to the credit of man’s free will