Forgiveness Applied by the Spirit: 2 Thessalonians 2:13
The Holy Spirit is the person of the Trinity who actually applies forgiveness to our lives. The Father laid the plans and the Son accomplished the atonement. But our sins are not actually forgiven until the Holy Spirit does his work.
When we first come to faith, the Spirit reconciles us to God by forgiving all the sins we have committed up to that point. He also gives us new spiritual life by regenerating our spirits, as Jesus talked about in John 3:5-8. Acts 11:18 speaks of this experience as “repentance unto life” because regeneration and faith will always involve sorrow and confession of our sinfulness. This idea is confirmed in many passages, such as 1 Corinthians 6:11.
And the Spirit continues to apply forgiveness to us throughout our lives. He is the one that maintains our faith, that leads us to daily repentance, and that continually applies forgiveness to us. We see this in places like Romans 8:1-16 and Galatians 5:5. As just one example, consider what Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 2:13:
God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:13).
Here, Paul wrote that believers are saved by the works of the Spirit that cleanse us from sin and unrighteousness, that is, the works of the Spirit that apply forgiveness to us. And the Spirit continues to apply forgiveness to us as we continue to believe in the truth.
The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit all demonstrate saving grace toward us. And this has at least three implications for our lives. First, when we sin and appeal to God for forgiveness and other aspects of salvation, we are right to make our petitions known to all three divine persons. Second, when we receive these blessings, we should give thanks to all three persons of God. And third, we can take great confidence in our salvation, knowing that all three persons of the Trinity love us and work to ensure our redemption. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all working together, for our benefit, to solve the problem of sin.
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