Now one of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went into the Pharisee's house and took his place at the table. Then when a woman of that town, who was a sinner, learned that Jesus was dining at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfumed oil. As she stood behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. She wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the perfumed oil. (Luke 7:36-38 NET)
Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner." So Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." He replied, "Say it, Teacher." "A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed him five hundred silver coins, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?" Simon answered, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled." Jesus said to him, "You have judged rightly." Then, turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house. You gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss of greeting, but from the time I entered she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with perfumed oil. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which were many, are forgiven [Gr. Perfect Tense](2), thus she loved much; but the one who is forgiven [Gr. Present Tense](2) little loves little." Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, "Who is this, who even forgives sins?" He said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." (Luke 7:39-50)
Apparently, Jesus had ministered to this woman on a prior occasion, and she had come with the very expensive perfumed oil to show Him that she understood she had been forgiven much, she loved much. (4) She proceeded to wet Jesus’ feet with her tears, used her hair to wipe them, and then anointed His feet with the expensive perfumed oil. Note in the passage above that the words “forgiven” in the original Greek have different tenses. When Jesus spoke of the woman’s forgiveness, who loved much because she understood she was forgiven of much, He utilizes the Perfect Tense which looks at the action as having been completed in the past but as having continuously existing results. This indicates that Jesus was reminding her that He had previously given her a cleansing of sin for the past, present, and future leading to her right standing before God. That is, she was given eternal righteousness through a one-time act that never needs to be repeated! (3)
The religious leader Simon had not provided any water to wash Jesus’ feet, no customary greeting kiss, nor did he anoint Jesus with common oil. When Jesus spoke of someone believing they have only been forgiven of little He used the Present Tense which looks at a repeated action being required to obtain the result. That is a belief in the need to have a repeated offering of sacrifices of repentance in order to maintain a right standing before God. Simon did not understand that Jesus was providing forgiveness that is not only for your past and present sins but also for all future sins. If we like the Pharisee Simon do not realize that Jesus paid for this great debt of all our sins past, present, and future then we do not realize how much He loves us and consequently, we love little in return.
We love because he loved us first. If anyone says "I love God" and yet hates his fellow Christian, he is a liar, because the one who does not love his fellow Christian whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And the commandment we have from him is this: that the one who loves God should love his fellow Christian too. (1 John 4:19-21 NET)
Does the church today understand that we all have been forgiven of a debt we could not pay? (1) That is, does the church understand that NONE have been forgiven of a little sin debt because all of us have large sin debts that are humanly impossible for us to pay? (Psalms 25:11) How would you be able to tell? Glad you asked! Again, those that realize they have been forgiven much will love Jesus much! (John 13:34,35) Furthermore, do we in the church today realize that the forgiveness that was given by grace (i.e., unmerited or unearned favor) has made us as righteous as Jesus Christ our Lord is righteous. (2 Corinthians 5:21) That is, all of our sins past, present, and future was borne by Jesus on the cross (Hebrews 9:26-28). He paid off the debt for all humanity from the fall of Adam to the present and into the future. All those that have turned towards God and thus away from their sin (i.e., repent (1)) and called upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ from their spiritual heart have received this past, present, and future forgiveness of sin leading to eternal righteousness. (Romans 10:9,10,13) The righteousness of Jesus is imputed to us, a righteousness that we did not earn and can never repay (Romans 8:1-4).
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (John 16:7-11 ESV)
All of us that are born again from above have been convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit which led to our conversion. However, have we in the church allowed the Holy Spirit to convict us of righteousness? A righteousness that is given by faith and not earned by works of the law? (1) If so, why do so many Christians keep going to God asking for forgiveness so that they will have right standing (i.e., believe they are acceptable) to Him? We must learn that the blood of Jesus has cleansed our entire life of every sin we will ever commit! Consequently, we have peace with God knowing that when we do sin we do not go to God repenting and confessing our sins in hope of forgiveness but rather to acknowledge to ourselves before Him, and offer high praises to Him, that the blood of Jesus has already paid for all of our sins, including those we are confessing, for all time! Hallelujah! (Colossians 1:19-22) That is, Jesus is not a one time deliverer but rather our Savior who has saved us spirit, soul, and body (1) in the past, present, and future. Consequently, we need to stop living as if Jesus forgave us all our sins when we were first delivered from sin or saved but we must pay the price for the forgiveness of every sin post-salvation experience. No! No! No! Jesus is our Savior and has saved us, is saving us, and will save us forever! Oh, what a Savior!
You answer our prayers by performing awesome acts of deliverance, O God, our savior. All the ends of the earth trust in you, as well as those living across the wide seas. (Psalms 65:5 NET)
And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. (1 John 4:14 NET)
He is the one who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not based on our works but on his own purpose and grace, granted to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but now made visible through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus. He has broken the power of death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel! (2 Timothy 1:9-10 NET)
So he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. (Hebrews 7:25 NET)
But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 NET)
The word “confess” in the above passage is one word that is a combination of two Greek words that together mean “to speak the same thing”. That is to speak the same thing to God about our sin that He has spoken to us about it. So, what has God said about our sin? Sin kills (Romans 6:23; 5:12), He hates Sin (because it kills) (Hebrews 1:9. 1 John 3:4), and He has paid the price for ALL of the sins we will ever commit (Galatians 3:13. 1 John 2:2). The word translated unrighteousness is not referring to our spiritual condition which is the unchangeable righteousness of Jesus given by grace that is received by faith. (Philippians 3:9) It rather refers to the results of our wrongdoings including the loss of fellowship with God caused by the condemnatory effect of sin, not on God, but rather on us (Genesis 3:6-8 .1 John 3:18-21).
(My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.) But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous One, and he himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the whole world. (1 John 2:1,2 NET)
The Greek word translated as “advocate” in the above passage comes from two words with the first word meaning “to call” and the second meaning “alongside.” This word is used in Greek law courts of an attorney who was retained by his client to plead his cause. The Lord Jesus our Savior in Heaven is the one called alongside the believer to plead his cause when he commits an act of sin. Jesus prays for the believer that the Holy Spirit might bring him to the confession of sin, and then Jesus cleanses that believer in His precious blood, thus restoring the believer to fellowship with Himself. (5)
What we need is a righteousness consciousness in our churches. That is a consciousness of the “humanly priceless” sin debt that Jesus overpaid which cleansed us of all our sin for our entire life! Yes, the blood of Jesus (1) cleaned your entire life of all sin when you accepted Him as your Lord and Savior! It was not by works of the law but rather by grace that we are saved and made righteous! (Ephesians 2:8,9) It is grace that is greater than all of our sins! We cannot out-sin God’s grace! (Romans 5:20) Dear hearts, please hear this, righteousness is a gift of grace that you receive and not the result of something performed to be earned! However, we typically have a sin consciousness in our churches. That is, we traditionally attempt to correct wrong behavior by teaching the right behavior (i.e., do’s and don’ts) which is, in essence, teaching law. When we teach law, we empower sin. Furthermore, history has demonstrated that law is not the cure for sin, grace is the remedy! (Titus 2:11-14. Romans 2:4) Teaching do’s and don’ts only serves to help the people live more unholy lives.
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. (1 Corinthians 15:56 NET)
For all who rely on doing the works of the law are under a curse, because it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not keep on doing everything written in the book of the law." (Galatians 3:10 NET)
You foolish Galatians! Who has cast a spell on you? Before your eyes Jesus Christ was vividly portrayed as crucified! The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? Although you began with the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by human effort? (Galatians 3:1-3 NET)
Tell me, you who want to be under the law, do you not understand the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. But one, the son by the slave woman, was born by natural descent, while the other, the son by the free woman, was born through the promise. These things may be treated as an allegory, for these women represent two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai bearing children for slavery; this is Hagar. Now Hagar represents Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written: "Rejoice, O barren woman who does not bear children; break forth and shout, you who have no birth pains, because the children of the desolate woman are more numerous than those of the woman who has a husband." But you, brothers and sisters, are children of the promise like Isaac. But just as at that time the one born by natural descent persecuted the one born according to the Spirit, so it is now. But what does the scripture say? "Throw out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman will not share the inheritance with the son" of the free woman. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman but of the free woman. (Galatians 4:21-4:31 NET)
For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery. Listen! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you at all! And I testify again to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be declared righteous by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace! For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait expectantly for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision carries any weight– the only thing that matters is faith working through love. (Galatians 5:1-6 NET)
For this is the covenant that I will establish with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and I will inscribe them on their hearts. And I will be their God and they will be my people. "And there will be no need at all for each one to teach his countryman or each one to teach his brother saying, 'Know the Lord,' since they will all know me, from the least to the greatest. "For I will be merciful toward their evil deeds, and their sins I will remember no longer." When he speaks of a new covenant, he makes the first obsolete. Now what is growing obsolete and aging is about to disappear. (Hebrews 8:10-13 NET)
There is only one person that could ever perfectly keep the law and He did - the Lord Jesus Christ! He fulfilled and finished it! (Mathew 5:17,18. John 19:29-31) Then he credited the overpayment to our accounts for our benefit! (1 Corinthians 1:30)
For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came about through Jesus Christ. (John 1:17 NET)
For sin will have no mastery over you, because you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Absolutely not! (Romans 6:14-15 NET) (1)
Realize, we are only transformed by beholding His Glory. When Jesus’ beauty and glory are unveiled from our pulpits and we are rightly told that we are the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ our Lord then we become more like Him. By teaching and preaching this truth we are effectively giving the Holy Spirit the building blocks He needs to transform the congregations thinking so they will live right.
But until this very day whenever Moses is read [i.e., the law is read](2), a veil lies over their minds, but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is present, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:15-18 NET)
Dear friends, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that whenever it is revealed we will be like him, because we will see him just as he is. (1 John 3:2 NET)
because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (Romans 8:29 NET)
For the creation eagerly waits for the revelation of the sons of God. (Romans 8:19 NET)
If in your church you predominately hear someone telling you the right thoughts, words, and behaviors to perform, but Jesus is rarely mentioned, except in a judgmental way, then JESUS is not central but rather the LAW is central (1). That is, righteousness by works is prioritized above righteousness by faith that receives grace. This is a gospel that is different than the Gospel of Peace that Jesus implemented through His death, burial, and resurrection. (Galatians 1:7. 2 Corinthians 11:3,4) It is another gospel, one neutralized through man’s tradition (Mark 7:13), legalism (i.e., a performance-based relationship with God (Galatians 5:4)), or worldly reasoning (1 Corinthians 1:17).
Therefore, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord [by faith that received grace and not by works](2,3), continue to live your lives in him [by faith that receives grace and not by works](2,3), rooted and built up in him and firm in your faith just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Be careful not to allow anyone to captivate you through an empty, deceitful philosophy that is according to human traditions and the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him all the fullness of deity lives in bodily form, and you have been filled in him, who is the head over every ruler and authority. In him you also were circumcised– not, however, with a circumcision performed by human hands, but by the removal of the fleshly body, that is, through the circumcision done by Christ. Having been buried with him in baptism, you also have been raised with him through your faith in the power of God who raised him from the dead. And even though you were dead in your transgressions and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he nevertheless made you alive with him, having forgiven all your transgressions. He has destroyed what was against us, a certificate of indebtedness expressed in decrees opposed to us [i.e., the Law](2). He has taken it away by nailing it to the cross. Disarming the rulers and authorities, he has made a public disgrace of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Therefore do not let anyone judge you with respect to food or drink, or in the matter of a feast, new moon, or Sabbath days– these are only the shadow of the things to come, but the reality is Christ! Let no one who delights in humility and the worship of angels pass judgment on you. That person goes on at great lengths about what he has supposedly seen, but he is puffed up with empty notions by his fleshly mind. He has not held fast to the head from whom the whole body, supported and knit together through its ligaments and sinews, grows with a growth that is from God. If you have died with Christ to the elemental spirits of the world, why do you submit to them as though you lived in the world? "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!" [i.e., a system of rules or law] (2) These are all destined to perish with use, founded as they are on human commands and teachings. Even though they have the appearance of wisdom with their self-imposed worship and false humility achieved by an unsparing treatment of the body– a wisdom with no true value– they in reality result in fleshly indulgence [i.e., law empowers sin](2). Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Keep thinking about things above, not things on the earth, for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ (who is your life) appears, then you too will be revealed in glory with him. (Colossians 2:6-3:4 NET)
(1) Left-click on the underlined phrase to open another article in a different tab with more explanation.
(2) Notes in [ ] added by the author of the article for clarity.
(3) How can Jesus offer this forgiveness past, present, and future prior to the cross? Realize, God the Father exists outside of time and since Jesus is never disobedient the plan of salvation through His death, burial, and resurrection is as good as done. Consequently, Jesus can offer the benefits of the cross early as a sign that He is the promised Messiah that has come to fulfill the promises. In addition, He is the Great High Priest (1) of the New Covenant after the order of Melchezidek.
(4) I believe this is the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11) who was Mary the brother of Lazurus (John 11:2;12:3) and also known as Mary Magdalene (Luke 8:2).
(5) Wuest’s Word Studies From the Greek New Testament for the English Reader, Volume Three, Jesus and the Believer Today, Kenneth S. Wuest, Reprinted 1999, ISBN-13: 978-0802822802