Are you presently trapped in a habitual sin? Or is there any past sin for which you are still feeling guilty? Many of us carry the guilt of our sins with us like a heavy burden, weighing us down. The continual reminder of our sins keeps us from experiencing freedom and from enjoying the relationship with God that we have by faith in Jesus Christ. You and I need to understand how complete and continual is God’s forgiveness of us. And we need to know how to deal with any recognized sin in our lives so that we won’t carry that guilt. In this post, we will look at one woman’s example in Luke 7 to see how Jesus satisfies your heart with forgiveness. This is post #3 in our New Testament Women series.
The bondage of intentional sin
In Luke chapter 7, a Pharisee named Simon invited Jesus to dinner. Hospitality to guests was one of the most important social functions of Jesus’ time. A guest was highly honored even if he was a stranger passing through the town. Once inside, the host’s wife or servant brought water to wash the guest’s feet, though the host might do it for a special guest. Washing was a common courtesy that made one’s guest feel at home. Other customs included anointing the guest with oil, which they used as soap, or providing clean clothing for the mealtime.
The Pharisees were a religious society of ~6,000 men who strictly obeyed the Jewish laws as interpreted by the teachers of the law. They considered themselves to be Israel’s spiritual leaders as they stood against evil in Jewish society. Sadly, many Pharisees had become narrow-minded and petty, more concerned with rules than with relationships, even with God. Most of the rejected Jesus and His teaching.
Jesus continued to teach and confront the Pharisees and the other religious leaders. So He accepted that invitation to dinner from Simon who needed Him as much as the uninvited guest who entered the room.
When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” (Luke 7:36-39)
Jesus took notice of a woman considered worthless in her town by the religious leaders because she was known to be immoral. We don’t know her name. But I like to call her ‘Emma’ to make her seem more like a real person, not just words on a page. One day, I’ll meet her in heaven and find out her real name. So when you read ‘Emma’ in this post, I am talking about the sinful woman of Luke 7.
Social custom allowed people to drop in when a rabbi was visiting. ‘Emma’ must have heard Jesus teach, which might have given her hope for a new life. Overcome by her brokenness and her need for forgiveness, ‘Emma’ gave to Him the most precious thing she had—her alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume.
Recognizing the need for forgiveness
Jesus recognized that ‘Emma’ wasn’t the only sinner in the room. Simon was guilty, also. So Jesus gave a teaching illustration meant for both of them.
Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” (Luke 7:40-47)
Simon viewed this heartbroken woman as dirty and someone to be avoided. Jesus pointed out Simon’s lack of courtesy and respect for Him as a guest. The Pharisees didn’t recognize their own need for forgiveness because they “followed” the rules, yet their hearts were hard toward God and people. That hardhearted prejudice was sinful as well. I heard someone say that “your capacity to love others is directly tied to your capacity to get how deeply you have been forgiven.” When you see yourself as righteous and not needing anything from Jesus (like Simon), you lose compassion for others.
The freedom of forgiveness
We don’t know whether or not Simon recognized his sin and need for forgiveness. ‘Emma’ knew how deeply she needed forgiveness.
Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”(Luke 7:48-50)
Because ‘Emma’ was held in bondage by her sin, she could not have a proper relationship with the true God. Her need for spiritual life remained unsatisfied. Then, Jesus entered her life. He recognized her faith in Him, cleansed her of sin, and gave her a chance for a new life.
We have a lot in common with ‘Emma’ as she washed Jesus’ feet with her tears. Many of us carry the guilt of our sins with us like a heavy burden, weighing us down. The ongoing reminder of our sins keeps us from knowing freedom. It keeps us from enjoying the relationship with God that we have by faith in Jesus Christ. We also have a lot in common with the Pharisee who indulged in the sin of hardheartedness and prejudice, especially if we ignore the sin in our lives.
Like Emma, we don’t need just a teacher of truth. We need a Savior who comes in and does for us what we can’t do for ourselves—to give us complete forgiveness. You and I need to understand how complete and continual is God’s forgiveness of us. And we need to know how to deal with any recognized sin in our lives so that we won’t carry that guilt.
What is sin?
Sin is any violation of the moral character of God or the law of God. We sin by thinking evil, speaking evil, acting evil, or omitting good. Whether we like this description or not, sin is a rebellion in our hearts against God as our authority.
Sin is like an incurable disease that always results in death and separation from God. Our sin separates us from having a relationship with God because He is a holy God. That means He is completely separated from anything that is sinful or evil. There is none of that in Him at all. He is perfect. Holy is who He is.
God hates sin. It pollutes His creation. Because God is holy, He takes action against sin to cause its destruction. The Bible calls that “God’s wrath.” He directs His anger against sin to wipe it out. But God’s love for people and His mercy towards us led Him to prescribe a substitute to take the punishment for human sin and restore spiritual life. At first, it was animal sacrifices. Then, Jesus Christ came to offer Himself as a sacrifice for sin once for all. The sacrifice paid the death penalty for sin, making it possible for us to receive God’s forgiveness. God’s wrath against sin was satisfied.
What is forgiveness?
In the Bible, the term “forgiveness” means “to send off or send away.” Our sin is transferred to a substitute, Jesus, and taken away. In Old Testament times, people were accepted by God and received eternal life in the same way as we are today: by faith in the merciful grace of God. By faith, they were saved. But to get rid of their sins and be acceptable to God, they had to bring their animal sacrifice to the priest. Their sins were transferred to that sacrifice, taken away from them, and they received forgiveness for their sins up to that point. In Luke chapter 7, Jesus declared forgiveness of sins to a sorrowful, sinful woman without a sacrifice. This shocked the other guests. Jesus did this because of Emma’s faith in the merciful grace of God. And Jesus knew His forthcoming sacrifice would cover all of Emma’s sins.
God promised His people that one day forgiveness would no longer be a temporary solution, but forgiveness would be complete and permanent. That happened on the cross through Jesus.
Paul declared this truth in Colossians 2:13-14, two of my favorite verses that are etched in my soul. As you read, let them go deep into yours, too.
When you were dead in your sins…God made you[a] alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge … which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14)
Once you place your faith in Jesus Christ, whatever you have done that was wrong in God’s eyes from the time you were born through the time of your death has been canceled. Taken away. All of it. Past, present and future. Nailed to the cross.
It’s even better than that. 2 Corinthians 5:19 tells us that God is no longer counting people’s sins against them.Since your sins have been taken away, God is longer counting them against you. Just like ‘Emma,’ you are forgiven based on your faith alone. Sins are applied to Jesus who takes them on your behalf. Once you have trusted in Jesus, Ephesians 1 says that forgiveness is something we possess as believers. We receive God’s forgiveness for all our sins (past, present, and future) from the moment we place our faith in Jesus Christ. That is very important for you to know. Forgiveness is complete and continual.
But knowing that does not give us permission to intentionally sin. Intentional sin does not fit with who you are as a forgiven Christian with a new life to enjoy. As long as we live in these earthly bodies, though, we will be tempted to sin. Sin will happen—whether intentionally or unintentionally. So as an already forgiven Christian, you might ask, “How do I deal with sin when I recognize it in my life?”
Great question! Here’s the biblical process for dealing with recognized sin in your life as a Christian:
The biblical process for dealing with recognized sin
Step One: View yourself rightly.
Your identity is not coveter, greedy, gossiper, whatever that sin is. You are in Christ, a child of God, who sometimes covets, is greedy, gossips or whatever.
Step Two: Recognize (confess) the truth regarding your sin.
To confess biblically means to agree with God about what you and He both know to be true. Confession is not a formula or a process. It is not dependent on a mediator. It is not just saying, “I’m sorry.” It is saying, “I agree with you, God. I blew it!” You see your sin as something awful!
Let’s use sexual immorality as an example since that is the context of our lesson. While reading 1 Thessalonians chapter 4, the Spirit of God convicts you that sexual immorality in any form is not pleasing to God. The Bible instructs you to flee it or avoid it. You recognize this sin in your life. You agree with God that your immoral sexual behavior is seeking love and acceptance from the wrong source. It doesn’t fit someone who knows God.
That is confession.
Step Three: Confession is incomplete without repentance.
Repentance means to change your mind about that sin, to turn away from it and to mourn its ugliness. This results in changing your actions. Paul says in 2 Corinthians chapter 7 that godly sorrow brings repentance. Like ‘Emma’ in Luke 7. It’s saying, “I recognize what I am doing is wrong. This fills me with sorrow because it hurts You, God. Please help me to live differently.” That’s how our lives get transformed.
For sexual immorality: You want to live in order to please God, and God wants you to flee from sexual immorality. So you pray, “Lord Jesus, please have your Spirit nudge me when I am not holy and honorable with my body. Help me to say no to temptation and to give up any relationship that is not honorable to you. By faith, Lord, I want you to do that in my life.” That is repentance.
Repentance requires that you change something. You can confess “until the cows come home”—every day—and never change anything. Jesus called for people to “repent” not “confess.”
Step Four: Repentance leads to dependence.
Depend on the living Christ inside you for that change to take place. Our Lord Jesus Christ is not interested in our compliance or outward conformity as much as He desires our obedience from the heart. Dependence on God leads to obedience to God.
For sexual immorality: Memorize 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 and any other scriptures that deal with staying pure and not rejecting God’s instructions. Be sensitive to the Spirit’s nudging when you are tempted to do otherwise. Choose to live a life that pleases God.
Dear reader, our God created us with a spiritual thirst for a relationship with Him. Another human cannot satisfy that thirst. Only God can satisfy the thirsty heart. The complete and continual forgiveness we receive by faith in Jesus satisfies our thirst for love and acceptance. This forgiveness is what motivates us to live a life that pleases God.
As the Bible promises in Psalm 107,
He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. (Psalm 107:9)
What kind of guilt are you carrying right now? Trust in Jesus to satisfy your heart with forgiveness through the goodness of His love. Then, live out that love.
- Live Out His Love Bible Study on Amazon
- Satisfied by His Love Bible Study on Amazon
- The Gospel: God’s Cure for Our Fatal Sin Disease
- Forgiven…No Longer Burdened by Guilt
- New Testament Women: Trust Jesus to satisfy your heart needs
- John 4: Samaritan Woman-Jesus satisfies your heart with TRUTH
- John 8: Adulterous Woman-Jesus satisfies your heart with VICTORY
- Mark 5: Desperate Woman-Jesus satisfies your heart with HOPE
- Mark 7, Luke 13.Shunned Women-Jesus satisfies your heart with KINDNESS
- John 11-12: Mary and Martha-Jesus satisfies your heart with LOVE
- Luke 8: Mary Magdalene-Jesus satisfies your heart with FREEDOM
- Luke 1-2: Mary-Jesus satisfies your heart with GRACE
- Acts 9 & 16: Tabitha and Lydia-Jesus satisfies your heart with COMMUNITY
- Acts 18: Priscilla-Jesus satisfies your heart with PURPOSE