Our forgiveness comes immediately when we accept Jesus as our Savior and believe in His sacrifice as payment for our sin. The moment we put our faith in Jesus, our sins are wiped completely away and we stand as a new creation before God. Our newness though is a continual work in progress as we walk with Jesus as our Lord.
Forgiven is our standing before God; being made New is our fresh lease on life—ready to follow God and to live according to His will.
I’d like to share a short Bible story about a man named Lazarus. He and his sisters, Mary and Martha were some of Jesus’ best friends. They lived in a town called Bethany which was two miles over the hill from Jerusalem.
Lazarus had fallen ill and was on the verge of death when his sisters sent word for Jesus to come and save him. Jesus could have rushed right over and kept Lazarus from dying by healing him on the spot. But Jesus took 4 days before arriving on the scene. By the time He arrived His dear friend Lazarus had died, and it appeared that all hope was lost.
That is where our story takes up now:
John 11:38-44, “Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 'Take away the stone,' he said. 'But, Lord,' said Martha, the sister of the dead man, 'by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.' Then Jesus said, 'Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?'
So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, 'Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.' When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come out!' The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, 'Take off the grave clothes and let him go.'”
Lazarus’ healing was a two-part process—he was raised from the dead and brought back to life; decay no longer had a hold on him. That’s the first part—he was healed and set free. He came out of the tomb at the command of Jesus and he stood before the crowd still shrouded in his grave clothes. Being that he was no longer dead, his grave clothes were no longer appropriate for him to wear. The time for mourning was over; it was time for celebration. The grave clothes had to come off in order for Lazarus to move freely and enjoy the benefits of his new lease on life. That’s part two of his redemption.
The same is true for us; Jesus has called us out of the grave of sin and into the newness of life with Him. The clothes of our old self are no longer appropriate for us to wear. It’s time to take off our sin, our shame, our condemnation, our insecurity, our fears, our old self. It is time to embrace the new life He has given us: putting on the righteousness, joy, hope, faith, peace, power, and confidence that are ours in Jesus.
We are forgiven and New. That is our confidence.
This is a picture of a spot at the Jordan River where many people come to be baptized as Jesus commands. They step into the water and let it wash over their bodies, being submersed in it's coolness and then stepping out into the newness of life. This act of baptism symbolizes our death to sin and our life in Christ.