“How Do We Know We Are Forgiven?” - Fr. Stevan Bauman
“How Do We Know We Are Forgiven?”
Sunday, July 16, 2023
Fr  Stevan Bauman

Today is drawing on the gospel reading that is about forgiveness of sins.

“They brought to him we heard a man sick of the palsy”. What's the palsy?
Does any have the palsy?

“It’s complete or partial muscle paralysis, often accompanied by loss of sensation and uncontrollable body movements are tremors and then feeble condition or debilitated state resulting from a weakening or debilitating influence.”

What an excellent description of preparing the way for sin and of it's consequences, opening the door for debilitating influences, welcoming them into a heart and mind, using the voice of our conscience and suffering, the customary result, and in a feeble condition or debilitated state, leaving us susceptible to palsy, that is sin.

What was the Lord’s response? “And Jesus, seeing their faith, said unto the sick of the palsy son, be of good cheer. Thy sins be forgiven thee.” We should be sure to cultivate such friends; friends with such faith. However, the people present said this is blasphemy, who can forgive sins, but God.

People often grant that God can forgive but expressing confession and in conversation that they can't forgive someone who has wronged them or they can’t forgive themselves for something they have done or allowed to be done. Father, I know God forgives me, but I can’t forgive myself.

I typically say, “Why should you? Why should you be able to do that? Granting forgiveness is Godly power. Have you achieved a godly state of mind and heart? Until then you should ask God to forgive you or the other person, and accept that he has done so, rather than trying to do it by yourself, alone, without Him.”

Don’t assume you have or should have godly power. Nor be surprised when you don't achieve the results that you expect. On the other hand, perhaps you've been forgiven and have denied it or forgotten it. Or you’ve just gone back to your habitual state of mind. Perhaps you feel unforgiven because you haven't repented completely now. Perhaps you're still harboring remnants of a grudge or virulent animosity towards someone who has done you wrong.
Or continue to judge someone for something you imagine they have done or are doing or thinking, perhaps about you. Don't worry about forgiving anyone yourself, just appeal to God for mercy and for the openness to receive his forgiveness and to allow it to flow one onto others.

Here is how it works. In the prayer by the priest at the opening of Matins, “Praise, Oh Lord our God who has granted unto man, forgiveness through repentance and has shown us as an example of the knowledge and confession of sin that leadeth to forgiveness, the repentance of the prophet David. The repentance of the Prophet David then is our goal.

What did he do? Remember what David did and the extent of his repentance, prayer, and fasting from which flows psalm 50. We’ll say more about that in a moment. Granted that God, not we, have the power and he wants to forgive us. What does it mean to receive forgiveness? How do we prepare for this and how do we know that we have received it?

We heard in the scripture, “But that you may know that this Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins”, said God. “Then saith he to the sick of the palsy, arise, take up thy bed and go unto thy house. And he arose and departed unto his house.” How simple. He recognize his ailment. He allowed his friends to carry him to Jesus. His request was obvious. Whether he or they spoke or not, he accepted the word of God, and then unquestioningly, put it into action.

Unfortunately for most of us, we may believe, but we still cling to the causes of our infirmity. not fully repenting or fully accepting forgiveness. It’s really quite amazing that we could be forgiven for things that we have done that were actually wrong, harmful, hurtful to others. We hate to admit that we have done such a thing. I am not like that. I didn’t want to hurt someone. And yet unless we accept the fact that we have done that, how can we be forgiven? How can we truly confess?

Paraphrasing the fathers, especially Saint Isaac, the Syrian, how do we know when
we have received remission of sins?


When we become conscious that we hate our former sin with our whole heart, and we govern ourselves in external actions in a manner opposed to our former way of life. Repent means turn away.

There's a man I baptized in prison. He was enforcer for the white supremacist brotherhood and had fulfilled that duty. And he came to the Orthodox count letter up in Michigan and transferred down to Pendleton where I met him. The guards were afraid of this man. He was in shackles. They had weapons. When they brought him down to me, they were afraid.

It was really quite remarkable. He was just standing there and he looked okay. So we talked and he continued with our count letter and decided as he had already decided before he came down here that he wanted to be Orthodox. So we talked about his way of life and he did would leave the brotherhood. And he did which exit which meant getting beat up. They could hit everything except the face.

He then signed an affidavit I wrote which the Chaplain notarized, confessing and renouncing his former attitudes, which the Chaplain notarized. And he chose Saint Moses the Black for his patron, taking the name Moses in baptism and he’s held to his change of heart several years now it’s been.


We not only confess, but when do, we know we have received remission of sins. He showed that in his life.


Yet to when we not only confess but we no longer love the origins of the passions. Or the good feelings and excitement that come from remembering or stimulating them. Judgment, lust whatever it happens to be, we often go right up to the edge, doing as much in our memory as we possibly can, going here far, just so I can enjoy this much but I won’t go too far.

When you’re so close to the edge, it takes just a little nudge from the adversary to tip you over the edge. So long as a man carries in himself the drunken debauchery of his sins, everything that he does appears comely in his eyes. We delude ourselves. We think we're OK. We can be immersed in sin. Accept overtly, publicly, committing it, and think we’re okay.

Do not sin habitually, oh man, expecting that you can enjoy the sin or thought of, and then repent and receive forgiveness. Remember, the death will not delay. Do not craftily seek the means to draw nigh to the pleasure of sin with a naivish mind. The man who loves the origins of the passions, is an involuntary bondsman and against his will he is enslaved to the passions. He who hates his sins will cease to sin.

And he who confesses them will receive forgiveness.


When we act with compassion towards others, it's a sign we have been forgiven. When we act with compassion even to those who have offended or wounded us. A sign of compassion is forgiveness of every debt.

For when we humble ourselves before God and man, remember David and Nathan the Prophet. Nathan came to David after David's entry into fornication and murder. Nathan recounted the story to the king about a man of means who deceitfully stole and killed a poor man’s only sheep.

Kindling the king's anger, David replied, as the Lord liveth, the man that has done this thing shall surely die. And Nathan replied, “Thou art the man!” For the description applied to David's own deeds, David immediately recognized this and acted in accord with the instruction we are receiving today from the fathers.

And David said unto Nathan, “I have said against the Lord. Simply put, no explanation or justification. I have sinned against the Lord.


We know that we have evidence that we have received forgiveness when we respond with thoughts proper to humility. Do not despair, but in thoughts proper to humility find forgiveness of your sins. Who am I to expect to wield godly power? I have sinned against God, Lord, remember me in Thy kingdom. Amen.


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