Why do we need Forgiveness?
By: Scott Morton
This is an important question to ask. Many people feel they do not need forgiveness for anything they do. The belief is they can be good enough to earn a good standing in the eyes of God. If you think about some things people say, you can see how this thinking has become a "normal" way to think. When someone dies that is considered to be a good person, the belief is everything they did has earned them a position in heaven. There is never a mention of needing to ask for forgiveness in any manner.
The issue is we all need the forgiveness of God. We are all considered sinners, as we cannot measure up to the standard of God's righteousness. The Bible talks about the reason we are all in this condition and what needs to be done in order to receive forgiveness from God.
In the Beginning
In Genesis 1, we see the creation account. God, in a six day process, performs all of the things being discussed in this chapter. During the 6th day, we see He creates man. The verses show what is said about man:
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.  And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
God created man in a certain manner. Man was created in the image of God. The questions is can/does God sin? The obvious answer to this is no, God does not have sin in His make-up. Paul records the fact that God does not lie (Romans 3:4). In fact, it is recorded that those that commit sin are of the devil, who had committed sin from the beginning (1 John 3:8).
God does not sin and is righteous. This is why He judges the world and can be a real judge, as there is no sin in Him. This means man was initially in this condition. In Genesis 1, man was made in the image of God and did not have sin in his nature.
While Adam was in the garden of Eden, there was one simple instruction he was to follow:
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:  But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
The instruction given to Adam is to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Every other tree in the garden was good for food and he was allowed to eat of them. This is something that on the surface appears to be simple and there should not have been a problem in being able to follow this command. However, the command ends up being broken in the very next chapter:
Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?  And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:  But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.  And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:  For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.  And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.  And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
Here is the account of the fall of man. The serpent (who is Satan- Ezekiel 28:13, 2 Corinthians 11:3) came to Eve and discussed the command of God. Since there was one command given, it should have been easy for Eve to know what had been said. The questioning of God's Word led to confusion on what had actually been said. She ends up being told they would not die, but would become like gods and would know good and evil. She decides to break the simple command given and eats from the tree. Adam, who is able to see the consequences of the action that happened, takes from the fruit as well and ends up in the same condition.
The result of the fall
Genesis 3 discusses how there is a change in Adam and Eve as a result of their actions. It records their eyes were opened as a result of eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The opening of their eyes is because they now have the knowledge of good and evil. This is referred to as a conscience, which sometimes is represented in cartoons as having a little angel on one shoulder and a little devil on the other shoulder. What happens is both sides of an issue are presented and a person has to make a decision based on which side they feel is right.
It is clear they knew they had done something wrong. The first thing that occurs after their eyes are opened is they realize they are naked. In order to combat this they attempt to cover this up for themselves and make some aprons out of fig leaves. Man is making an attempt at trying to cover up the sin committed and hide the actions from God.
God comes to them in the garden and knows something is wrong. He starts questioning Adam and Eve about what happened. The process of passing the buck starts, as Adam blames Eve and then Eve blames the serpent. There is no personal acceptance of what had occurred. God then hands down a sentence based on these actions:
And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:  And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.  Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.  And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;  Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;  In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
There is a punishment given to all who were involved in this. Nobody is exempt from God's judgment. The righteousness of God is a standard that none of those involved in this could stand up to. He does take animals and performs a sacrifice to clothe them with animal skins, instead of the fig leave aprons they had created to be clothing. God gives this judgment down and then kicks Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden. This is because the perfection of the garden is representative of the righteousness of God. God cannot be in the presence of sin and this ends up causing there to be a problem. Since sin cannot be around God, he gets rid of the sin from his presence.
What happens to man?
The change in Adam creates a change in mankind. This can be seen in Genesis 5, which discusses the generations of Adam:
This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;  Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.  And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:
We had already seen how God had created man in His image. Being in the image of God means that Adam had the attributes of God. When he sinned, there was a change that had occurred. Adam was no longer in the image of God. The change produced carried down to the next generation, as is shown in Genesis 5. The passage here speaks of Seth and identifies he was made in the image of Adam. Seth now had the same problems as Adam.
The change here is the addition of a sin nature. There is something inside of man that causes a person to sin. This is what had been added to Adam, passed down to Seth, and has continued to pass down through all generations of man, including us today. There is a sin nature inside of man that needs to have forgiveness occur in order to have a good standing before God.
How does the sin nature work?
In order to understand why we need forgiveness, it is also important for us to know how this sin nature works. In order to see how the sin nature works and leads individuals to sin, we need to understand the following passage:
1 John 2:15-16
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
This passage in 1 John shows what is true about the things of this world. It classifies all things into three categories: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. These are the three things in which every sin can be classified. This is what leads to the failure of individuals to stay 'sin free', as these things are present in the world.
In Genesis 3, we can see how these things are related to the fall of man:
1 John 2:15-16
Lust of the flesh
Good for food
Lust of the eyes
Pleasant to the eyes
Pride of live
Tree to be desired to make one wise
Adam and Eve had these things happen to them in relationship to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They ended up experiencing all three things, which is what demonstrates the complete make-up of sin. This is why Paul gets into a discussion in Romans 7 about the things dwelling in the flesh that lead to him making bad choices and doing things he does not want to do. The sin nature acts on the things present in the world today and helps to cause individuals to make bad choices.
Ironically, the Lord Jesus Christ faced all of these temptations as well. He went into the wilderness for a period of 40 days and the Bible records He was tempted of the devil. The temptations He faced were the same ones we see in 1 John. Jesus Christ successfully resists all of the temptations and does not commit any sin. This is because we can see what James says about God:
Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:  But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
James records God cannot be tempted with evil. These temptations would never have worked to try to get God to commit sin. God has nothing to do with sin in any way. It also records the fact that God does not tempt people. This is something people often try to say when they are faced with something. God does not tempt individuals in any manner.
James also gives a process that a person goes through related to temptation. The temptation a person faces creates lust in the individual. The lust starts to entice the individual and conceives in the individual. This produces sin in the life of the individual and leads to the problems caused by sin.
Hasn't there been anyone good?
This is the question most people pose when dealing with this issue. They think there could have been someone good enough to meet the favor of God and not be in need of forgiveness. However, look at what some individuals have said.
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.  Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.
And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,  And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
<To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.> Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.  Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.  For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.  Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.  Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
From these three individuals we can see one fact. There has not been anyone good enough in the eyes of God. Everyone needs to have forgiveness in the eyes of God and we will start to look at this issue in more detail (see next issue).
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: