Salvation begins at the initiative of God. We don’t just wake up one morning, decide we are terrible people because of our sin, and set out to knock on God’s door. The Holy Spirit “quickens” us (old English word for “make sensitive,” like the “quick” of your fingernail). As we are “quickened” or “made spiritually sensitive” to God we are awakened to the possibility of new life in Jesus.
We were dead… now we have been made alive in Christ! And as we are alive, and know the fullness of God through Christ, we find we are also being set free from the guilt that burdens us.
Being set free from our guilt is like being set free from the pull of gravity! It is elating to know our sin and guilt has been taken out of the way. “He forgave us all our sins….”
While “forgave” is past tense (already done) in English translation, the Greek is more definitive. It says, “God has done something in the past (He forgave you) that is continuing to affect and work itself out in the present (we continue to be forgiven).
Some have mistakenly understood that this verse is teaching that all the sins forgiven at the cross that we had committed up until that time. If you continue to mess up after that, then it’s your problem to fix! Those who believe this way find themselves entering a non-stop treadmill of trying to work for salvation, believing they have “lost” their salvation and need to “find” it again!
That is not what Paul is teaching, and it is not what God is doing. When Jesus died for you, remember, ALL of your sins were future. ALL of your guilt was future.
But when the Bible says, “He forgave us all our sins,” this is a proclamation that the penalty due for every sin we have ever committed or ever WILL commit in the future has already been paid for.
I’ve heard it explained this way. It is as though someone placed a $100,000 check in your bank account. It is there. It is good. But until you start writing checks or using your debit card, you will never receive the benefit of the gift.
We are to continue, if you would, “writing checks” on the forgiveness that God has deposited in our “account.” “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just (righteous) to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)