Receiving God’s Forgiveness: Trusting in Christ’s Righteousness

Presented by Fr. Steve Tompkins

This session addresses the failure to receive God’s forgiveness by considering those who remain “under the law.” These notes outline the basic flow of the teaching and contain the full text and reference for scriptures and quotations. At the bottom of the notes are resources for further exploration of this topic.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 

It is often harder for us to receive forgiveness from God than to forgive even our worst enemies” (Leanne Payne, Restoring the Christian Soul through Healing Prayer, 141).

Remaining Under the Law

Leanne Payne identifies several potential root causes that may prevent a Christian from receiving God’s forgiveness. Remaining under the law is the first issue she addresses, and the one we will focus on here. As she states: “The man ‘under the law’ will always feel guilty. He does not receive forgiveness because he is still trying to be ‘good enough’ on his own merit; he strives to be perfect on his own” (141).

How and why does the Christian, who has been set free in Christ, end up striving as though still under the law?

Firstly, this is the default stance of all of fallen humanity. It is deeply ingrained in our hearts.

·  We have a fundamental drive toward autonomy.

·  We are slow to change.

·  Many Christians have the impression that we are saved by grace initially, but then must live by our own efforts.

Secondly, many of us discover within us that we have a compulsive drive toward perfectionism.

Thirdly, we need to remember that we have a very real enemy, Satan the accuser.

In sum, the old voices of the world, the flesh, and the devil conspire together to trap us under diseased heart-habits that rob us of the joy of forgiveness.

The good news—as Paul tells us in Romans 10:4—is that “Christ is the end (or fulfillment) of the law, so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.”

·  We need to receive this truth with a deliberate act of will

·  Discerning and repenting of pride is essential

·  Receiving forgiveness requires humility

·  Receiving forgiveness leads to freedom, joy, and spiritual renewal

“The law, as someone has said, is a fence to make us be good. In Christ, the fence has been removed. The walk in the Spirit replaces the fence. In listening-obedience to Christ and His Word, we are trusting always in His righteousness and doing what we hear Him say. In this way, we do indeed fulfill (not just the letter but) the spirit of the law” (Leanne Payne, Restoring the Christian Soul, 142). 

Resources on this topic:

Chapter 9 of Leanne Payne’s Restoring the Christian Soul through Healing Prayer, “Third Great Barrier to Wholeness in Christ:  Failure to Receive Forgiveness” “Removing Barriers to Wholeness:  Receiving God’s Forgiveness” lecture and prayer live audio recording from an MPC school held in Wheaton, IL in 2019.