SALVATION IN EPHESIANS

#8 FORGIVENESS

Paul expands the meaning of the redemption we have in Christ and through his blood by adding the words 'the forgiveness of sins'.

There are many images of forgiveness scattered throughout the Bible, but here in this context, Paul is connecting the concept of forgiveness with the concept of redemption, because he wants us to really understand the fullness of the freedom embedded in that  redemption.

So here we must ask 'In what way does the concept of forgiveness enhance our understanding of redemption?'

As we saw last week, 'redemption' refers to release from the spiritual indebtedness and bondage incurred by our sin. Part of that bondage, the Bible teaches us, is the barrier that sin, and its accompanying judgment, erected between God and us. This barrier is first observed in Genesis 3:8 where Adam and Eve, conscious of guilt, were also automatically conscious of a barrier between themselves and God - they hid from him among the trees. In Genesis 3:22-24 we learn that as part of his judgment God  placed at the edge of the Garden of Eden, cherubim with a flaming sword, barring the way to the Tree of Life. From this point on man, the sinner, is banned from eternal life, that is, from life lived in a positive relationship with God.

This sin-barrier, which is also a judgment-barrier, is also evident in the curtain that divided the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place in the Tabernacle and the Temple. The Most Holy Place symbolized the presence of God. Except for the High Priest on the annual Day of Atonement, no one was permitted to go behind this curtain; and it was only after observing strict cleanliness and sacrificial rituals that the High Priest could do so [Exodus 26:31-35; Leviticus 16]. The curtain, on which were embroided golden cherubim, thus symbolized the impenetrable sin-judgment barrier by which everyone is banned and excluded from a relationship of acceptance in the presence of the Holy God. By this curtain we understand that no one can enter the presence of God.

Forgiveness is the removal of this sin-judgment barrier, and in that it is freedom - redemption.

At the very moment that Jesus Christ died the actual curtain in the temple in Jerusalem was ripped in two from top to bottom [Matthew 27:52]. No human hand could do that. It was a massive curtain, estimated to be seventy feet high and several inches thick. God himself ripped away this symbolic barrier to demonstrate and confirm that through the sin-bearing death of his Son, the actual barrier that it symbolized - our sin and the judgment it incurred - was ripped away.

The barrier between man and God has been removed: that is the image of forgiveness as it relates to the concept of redemption. We are no longer held back behind a barrier. We are no longer banned from the presence of God. We have freedom of access to God. This taking away of the barrier is a key meaning of the word most commonly used in the New Testament for 'forgive' - apheimi - I send away.

Because of this those who believe in Christ have, right now, freedom of access to God. [Read Romans 5:1-2; Ephesians 2:18; Hebrews 4:14-16; 10:19-22.]

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2007, 2017