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Q: I don't understand how we can be pardoned, if we are justified. If we are declared not guilty (justified), how can we be pardoned for sins of which we are not guilty?
A: You are absolutely right. If we are not guilty, then pardon is impossible. We cannot, in the judicial sense, be both pardoned and justified. It's impossible--in the judicial sense. Thus, this passage is difficult.

This is not pardon in the judicial, Israelite sense of "You are guilty of sins, and if you confess your sins, then they will be let go." It is pardon in a more general sense, which is "God took our sins away, Himself, via Christ on the cross." The common denominator is: "sins are gone." This is the essence of the Greek word translated pardon, "aphesis," whose English elements are "from-letting." It is to let off from, or let go. It's a broad word and the context must be consulted. I wish it had simply been translated "let go."

God lets go of Israel sins as well as ours, but with them it's a cooperative taking away. Israel helps by confessing and doing good works. It is the taking away of sins in the judicial sense: "You're guilty, but you are really repentant so we'll pardon you." Ours is the taking away of sins in the sense that God placed all of our sins on Christ and we had nothing to do with it. We don't cooperate.

In both cases, sins are let go of. "Letting go" is the generic meaning of "pardon," which ought to never be translated pardon, I don't think, but simply "let go." Why not just translate it what it means? This term "pardon" is confusing because of its judicial associations. Simply translate it "let go" and then we could let the context decide what kind of "letting go" it is (Israel letting go or body of Christ letting go) and not get thrown off by this judicial term. Again, Israel's sins are let go because they confess, repent, produce works worthy of repentance. Our sins are let go because they were taken away at the cross completely free of any contribution on our part.

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I am a spiritual seeker, just like you. I have sampled the religious institutions of humans and found them unable to contain the greatness of God. All my life, I have had deep questions about God and my relationship to Him: Why am I here? Why is there so much evil in the world? Is the universe coming to an end? What will happen to my unbelieving loved ones after they die? How important is it to attend a church? I didnít find answers in church. In fact, most of the churches I attended or visited didn't even want to hear the questions.



How to Quit Church
Why Going to church today is unbiblical, un-Christlike, and spiritually risky

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How to Quit Church Without Quitting God

Why going  to church today is unbiblical, un-Christlike, and spiritually risky

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Flawed by Design
Think your sins are ruining God's plan for your life?
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Martin Zender Goes to Hell
A critical look at an un-criticized doctrine

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The Really Bad Thing About Free Will
A critical look at the "salvation by willpower" doctrine
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Recorded live in a Christian radio station studio, these ten tracks explain the beasts of Daniel, chapter 7, as you've never heard them explained. Are we in the end times? What would happen if Jesus came back today and attended a Christian church? Are the Pharisees alive and well?

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Recorded exactly one week after 9/11, Martin contemplates evil and the part it plays in God's plans. Did 9/11 have to happen? How does this momentous event fit into end-time prophecy? Although this message will take you back to your memories of September 11, 2001, you will be comforted in the realization that God is still in charge of His universe and that we are nearer than ever to seeing Christ. 

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