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  • Writer's pictureJohn Nolan

How To: Find Forgiveness and Cleansing (Receiving God's Mercy)

Updated: Jun 29

The subject of God's mercy and forgiveness is without doubt one of the most wonderfully comforting themes you will find as you study the Bible. The thought that Almighty God looks upon us with kindness and understanding in the midst of our struggles, brings hope and joy into our hearts and lives. How To: Find Forgiveness and Cleansing (Receiving God's Mercy) is a step by step guide for those who want to enjoy freedom from sin and shame.

Administrative and Experiential Forgiveness
Cleansing and Forgiveness

Todays Scripture

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)

Sins Entrance Into the World

God's original relationship with Adam was one of a Father teaching His son, preparing him for the day when he was mature enough to take over the family business, namely the rulership of the earth.

(Genesis 1:26) Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

But within the Garden of Eden God set boundaries and limits that Adam was not allowed to cross, that He might teach Adam the importance of submission and obedience. The blessing of obedience was abundant life within a beautiful paradise, but crossing over the boundaries God had set would result in the loss of paradise and spiritual death.

(Genesis 2:15-17) Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

But a little further on in Genesis we read how Satan came into the Garden and deceived both Adam and Eve, and they fell from God's state of grace and into sin and spiritual death and were cast out of the Garden. Read (Genesis 3:1-24)

Adam and Eve's disobedience and sin resulted in Spiritual Death and they passed on their fallen nature to every generation of mankind that was to follow.

The rulership and dominion of the earth for which Adam was being trained was usurped by Satan, who is revealed as the ruler of this world system. Satan's influence and control over men has caused terrible suffering both within mankind and upon the creation for 1,000's of years.

(Ezekiel 18:20) The soul who sins shall die.

(John 10:10) The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly

(John 12:31) Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.

(1 Corinthians 15:22) For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive

God is a God of Justice

Judges Gavel

As our Creator, God has the right and also the responsibility to choose how He wants us to live in His Creation. He decides how He wants us to treat each other as well as how He wants us to treat Him.

If we, as the people He has made choose to hurt rather than heal, to destroy rather than build and to disrespect rather than honor, then it is fully within God's rights as our Creator to bring correction, discipline and judgement.

God reveals Himself to us as our Heavenly Father, and teaches us that it within the role of every father to bring correction, discipline and judgement within his own family.

He is Creator and the Judge of all the world, and is ultimately responsible to ensure that Justice prevails within His Creation. God must punish wrong doing and reward right behavior so that the weak and the poor are not taken advantage of by the strong and powerful.

(Genesis 18:25) Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

To satisfy God's requirement for justice, a price had to be paid for the sin committed.

God cant just sweep sin under the carpet and say "Let's not worry about it this time, just make sure you do better in the future!"

If God did that even once, He would no longer be a God of Justice.

But there was no one who was untouched by the stain of sin that came through Adam and Eve's fall in the Garden of Eden, as all mankind had been sold into slavery to sin by their thoughtless actions. We too are their offspring and we all share the same fallen nature as they did, and are unable to change from being sinful to becoming righteous without God's help.

For this reason God Himself had to provide the way for man to escape from slavery to sin and transform our inner nature to one that is able to love God and walk with Him in righteousness. Receiving God's mercy in our lives is the first step in this process.

(John 14:6) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me

God is also a God of Mercy

Supporting Others

(Micah 6:8) He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?

(Romans 9:15) For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.”

God is our Heavenly Father and from Him flows everything that is good and just in the world. God's mercy is freely offered to mankind through faith in Jesus Christ.

God longed to restore the loving relationship He had with mankind before their fall and to reveal the greatness of His love and mercy toward us. Since no man was righteous and without sin before Him, God chose to send His only begotten Son into the world, to pay the ultimate price and redeem(buy back) mankind from sin and back to God. God's mercy toward mankind cost Him the life of His most precious Son.

(John 3:16) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life

Both God's Justice and Mercy Were Fulfilled at the Cross

In the supreme act of love God fulfilled both His requirement for Justice and His desire for Mercy by making His own Son a sacrifice for the sins of all mankind.

Jesus Christ was uniquely qualified to fulfill God's eternal plan for the Redemption of Mankind, as He was born as a man into the world, yet without the fallen nature that we shared from Adam.

Read (Matthew 1:18-25)

Jesus lived a perfect sinless life and resisted every temptation that Satan tried to entice Him with in life. Jesus then went willingly to the cross for you and I, that He might forever break the chains of sin and death that held mankind bound.

After giving up His life on the cross He rose victorious over death on the third day, and now offers the gift of eternal life to all who believe in and obey Him. Jesus Christ is the visible image of God's mercy and love toward mankind.

Confession, Forgiveness and Cleansing

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)


When a thief is caught by the police and brought before a judge to be tried for his actions, one of the first things the judge asks is "How do you plead? Guilty or Not Guilty?" If the thief honestly admits his crime by writing a confession and pleading guilty the judge is far more likely to consider the possibility of leniency in sentencing him because the thief has shown remorse for his actions.

However, if the thief continues to deny his crime, even though he was caught red handed climbing out the window with the silverware in his bag, the judge has seen no remorse for his actions.

The judge in this instance could confidently expect that the thief may soon re-offend if given the chance, and the judge would be far less likely to show leniency in sentencing.

In the same way God, who is the Judge of all mankind, requires us to acknowledge and confess our sins before Him, that He also may show us the forgiveness and mercy Jesus won for us on the cross!

Acknowledging our personal sin means seeing it from God's point of view and not merely the view of man. When we acknowledge sin we agree with God that what we did was wrong and we ask for God's mercy that came through Jesus' sacrifice for us.

(Psalm 32:5) I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah


Our personal sins continue to multiply throughout life and become a burden that we carry, especially when our conscience reminds us of them. The weight of our shame robs us of life's enjoyment, and we are left with a sense of foreboding when we consider that we must all stand before the judgement seat of God.

If only there was a way for our sins to be dealt with and for us to find forgiveness before God!

Thankfully, it was for that very reason that Jesus Christ chose to come into the world as our Savior and Lord, and the visible expression of God's mercy to mankind. It is through Jesus Christ alone that forgiveness is available to everyone, no matter what we may have done in our life.

When God forgives our sins He pardons/remits them, just as a judge in a courtroom can pardon the accused being tried for a crime, and as an accountant stamps a bill owed as PAID IN FULL. He is able to do this freely for all those who truly believe in Jesus Christ, because the punishment for our sins was PAID IN FULL by Jesus on the cross, and we who receive God's mercy are able to be pardoned and go free.

How wonderful it is to have the burden of our sin lifted off our shoulders and carried to the Cross by our Savior Jesus Christ!

Cleansing From Guilt and Shame

When we fall in sin, often the first indicator is an uncomfortable feeling in our conscience, which is an inner voice that helps us to identify whether our behavior/intentions are acceptable or not.

We may ask for God's mercy and forgiveness and receive a judicial or administrative pardon based upon our confession of sin and remorse, and yet sometimes we may not FEEL forgiven. That is because our conscience does NOT always directly reflect God's forgiveness or His unforgiveness, but can also be influenced by other factors such as prejudices we have developed in life.

*For a greater understanding of the conscience, I highly recommend this teaching series by acclaimed Bible Teacher David Pawson: What is Conscience

The cleansing of our conscience can come at the same time we receive God's mercy and forgiveness, but in my experience this does not always happen. We can however confidently continue to claim our cleansing from God as we ask for and receive the inner working of the Blood of Christ through faith and by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The blood of Christ has the power to cleanse our conscience and release us from any sense of guilt or shame, and to help us feel pure and holy again on the inside. Our faith in God's mercy and His Word (The Bible) releases the "cleansing from all unrighteousness" that God has promised us. His Holy Spirit within us responds to our faith and frees us to walk confidently again with God.

(Hebrews 9:14) how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

(Isaiah 1:18) “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.

(1 John 3:20-21) For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God

In Summing Up

Step 1. Confession is agreeing with God's point of view on sin, showing remorse and asking for God's mercy and His forgiveness
Step 2. Forgiveness is seen as a judicial or administrative pardon from God, the Judge of all mankind.
Step 3. Receiving cleansing from all unrighteousness is the practical inner/heart realization of what has already happened judicially, and restores our confidence with God through the exercising of our faith.

Scriptures For Personal Study

(Romans 5:19)

(Ephesians 2:8-9) (Romans 5:1)

(Acts 2:38)

(Acts 5:31)

(Acts 10:43)

(Acts 13:38)

(Acts 26:18)

May we all find God's mercy and forgiveness daily and walk in the glorious freedom that He has prepared for us in Christ.

God Bless

John Nolan


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The How To: Series

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