The Liberating Power of Forgiveness
By John Piper
“Your sins are forgiven.” (Luke 7:48)
A woman comes to Jesus in a Pharisee’s house weeping and washing his feet. No doubt she felt shame as the eyes of Simon communicated to everyone present that this woman was a sinner and that Jesus had no business letting her touch him.
Indeed, she was a sinner. There was a place for true shame. But not for too long.
Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven” (Luke 7:48). And when the guests murmured about this, he strengthened her faith by saying, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Luke 7:50).
How did Jesus help her battle the crippling effects of shame? He gave her a promise: “Your sins have been forgiven! Your faith has saved you. Your future will be one of peace.” He declared that past pardon would now yield future peace.
So, the issue for her was faith in God’s future grace, rooted in the authority of Jesus’s forgiving work and freeing word. That is the way every one of us must battle the effects of well-placed shame — not false shame, but shame that we really should feel, but shame that threatens to linger too long and cripple us.
We must battle the unbelief of crippling shame by taking hold of the promises of future grace and peace that come through the forgiveness of our shameful acts.
- “With you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.” (Psalm 130:4)
- “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55:6–7)
- “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)
- “To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:43)
All of us need forgiveness. And we will need it tomorrow. Jesus died to provide it today and tomorrow. Today or tomorrow the reality is this: God’s forgiveness liberates us for our future. It frees us from crippling shame. Forgiveness is full of future grace.
When we live by faith in future grace, rooted in God’s forgiveness, we are freed from the lingering, paralyzing effects even of the shame we deserve to feel. That’s what forgiveness means.