The Blood of Christ and the Forgiveness of Sin in the Judgment Hour
Forgiveness in the New Testament is always associated with faith in the blood of Christ. Any repentant sinner who puts his faith in the atoning sacrifice (the blood) of Christ upon the cross will be legally forgiven and adopted into the family of God. This legal transaction of forgiveness must always precede the moral action of regeneration and sanctification by the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Legal adoption into the family of God is made possible, because we are legally accepted in the Beloved by means of the redemption from the penalty of the Law through the shedding of His blood. The forgiveness of sin is then possible because of God's unmerited grace alone through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Look at the following text:
Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ..Having predestinated us unto the ADOPTION of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath MADE US ACCEPTED in the Beloved. In whom we have REDEMPTION THROUGH HIS BLOOD, the FORGIVENESS OF SINS, according to the riches of His GRACE.
Without a legal adoption there is no legal relationship with God. The Law must be dealt with first. All legal barriers must be broken down before the personal love relationship of the parent with the child may be established. Thus the LEGAL union of the adoption must precede the actual fellowship with the adopted child and the parent.
Notice the text in Colossians 1:12
"Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the INHERITANCE of the saints in light: Who hath DELIVERED us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son: In whom we have REDEMPTION through His BLOOD, even the FORGIVENESS of sins."
First repentant believing sinners are given a legal inheritance by having been delivered from the power (authority) of darkness and translated into citizenship in God's kingdom through faith in the REDEMPTION obtained by Christ's shed BLOOD. We can then have the FORGIVENESS of sin. Without faith in the blood, there can be NO FORGIVENESS. The legal reconciliation must precede the moral reconciliation.
I John 2:12 makes this equally clear, "I write unto you, little children, because your sins are FORGIVEN you for His name's SAKE". Here we see the legal benefits associated with the name of Christ are procured because Christ's sinless life and atoning death upon the cross have provided the legal right for God to forgive the believer.
I John 1:7 reveals that Christ is our legal advocate because He has made legal propitiation for our sins by the shedding of His blood to satisfy all the demands of God's Law for a sinless life. He is the "propitiation" or debt cancellation for even the sins of the whole world: The fact that John states that Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world shows us that he is referring to LEGAL propitiation because not all the world has been personally forgiven of their sins unto eternal life. Only those who personally believe in Jesus' atoning death are personally benefited by the atonement and receive the forgiveness of their sins and the gift of eternal life. They pass from death unto life because Jesus died the death that we deserved to die so that we do not need to die, but rather we live because He died for us.
Again in these verses we see that the LEGAL propitiation PRECEDES the personal FORGIVENESS. Faith in the blood precedes forgiveness and fellowship with God.
"But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the BLOOD of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and (LEGALLY) JUST to FORGIVE us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an ADVOCATE with the Father, Jesus Christ the RIGITEOUS: And He is the PROPITIATION for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the WHOLE WORLD."
Notice Ephesians 4:32
"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, FORGIVING one another, even as God for CHRIST'S SAKE hath FORGIVEN you."
"For the sake of" means the "cause" of God's forgiveness is Christ. Without the legal merit of Christ there could be no forgiveness effected. The basis of our acceptance with God is Christ's righteousness. We are accepted and accounted sinless because His perfect life is acceptable to God and is imputed unto us as if we were as sinless as Jesus Himself.
Now we can come to the most obvious legal reference to forgiveness. Colossians 2:13
"And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having FORGIVEN you all trespasses; BLOTTING OUT the handwriting of ordinances that was against us (indictment, i.e., the list of our sins), which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross."
In this text we see that all are born naturally dead in sin, but that we are able to be FORGIVEN because the LEGAL INDICTMENT that was against us has been cancelled and nailed to the cross. That LEGAL INDICTMENT is a record of all of our sins and failures and shortcomings. It is completely abolished and disposed of for one who believes in Jesus and continues to believe unto the end.
Paul's letter to the Romans was written to show that God accounts all who put their faith in the righteousness of Jesus and ask forgiveness of their sins as if they were perfectly sinless and being righteous by the imputed righteousness of Christ. Following the comments on justification by faith, Paul shows that the definition of justification is FORGIVENESS.
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by His grace through the REDEMPTION that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a PROPITIATION through faith in His BLOOD, to declare His righteousness for the REMISSION of sins that are past, through the FOREBEARANCE of God; To declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus... Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are FORGIVEN , and whose sins are COVERED. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not IMPUTE sin."
Here again we see that the LEGAL PROPITIATION of our sins by Christ's having lived a sinless life and died an atoning death on the cross had to precede the FORGIVENESS of anyone's sins. Without Christ's death God could not have forgiven our sins. God cannot overlook or ignore His Law. Our legal debt to the Law had to be propitiated and put away through the shedding of Christ's blood.
Romans 5:8 "But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His BLOOD, we shall be saved from WRATH through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were RECONCILED to God by the DEATH of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the ATONEMENT."
Here we see that God has made provision for our reconciliation while we were yet enemies. This shows us that LEGAL reconciliation of all the world is being referred to rather than personal reconciliation unto eternal life. BUT once we are personally reconciled unto God through personal faith in Christ and repentance for our sins, we are then saved by His life, because we have now personally received the atonement for our sins.
I will stop here unless there is further need to go on and cover the many other references to the legal nature of the atonement through the blood found in the other epistles and Revelation. I have not even mentioned that marriage is not marriage unless there is a legal bond preceding the personal union of the marriage partners. And also I have not mentioned the analogy of Romans 7 which tells us that personal fellowship and "marriage" to Christ can take place only after the "old man" or sinful nature of the believer in Jesus is accounted to be legally dead in Christ and set free from the condemnation of God's Law that holds us in bondage to the sinful nature. We are set free from the verdict of death because of our faith union to Christ who died and was then raised from the dead for us.
The terms of the covenant must always be met before sinful man can be brought into fellowship with God. The Legal demands of God's Law must be satisfied before the personal fellowship of the believer with God can be consummated. Jesus met all of these demands in His perfect sinless life and atoning death for us. This theme is presented over and over in the proclamation of the Gospel. Thus "without faith (in the blood of Christ) it is impossible to please Him".
Only in the cross of Christ can we glory. His doing and dying have made possible our forgiveness and our personal reconciliation with God and enabled us to receive the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit to become partakers of the divine nature.