Pardon from sins carries with it the idea of offense. If one has never offended another he cannot receive pardon; indeed he has no need for pardon. Since pardon is held out in the Bible as a precious gift from God to man, it follows that man has sinned against God. Otherwise he could not receive pardon from sins.
Adam sinned against God in eating of the forbidden fruit, and he suffered the consequence of his sin. As the Lord has decreed, Adam died in the day in which he sinned by being separated from the source of life. Adam stands as the representative of the human race, not in the sense that we inherit the guilt of his sin, but in the sense that all have sinned and become separated from God as the consequence of our sins.
“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you that he will not hear” (Isa. 59:2). In this language the prophet assures Israel that they were separated from God, not because he had lost his power to save (verse 1), but because they, themselves, had sinned. Throughout the next fifteen verses he lists the evil deeds of which they were guilty.
However, the Lord has provided that all who turn from sin may be pardoned: “And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord” (Isa. 59:20). This prophesied that Christ, as a Redeemer, should purchase forgiveness for all who turn from transgression. “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God” (1 Pet. 3:18). So it is through Christ that we have pardon from sins, as he reconciles us to God in himself. (2 Cor. 5:19; Eph. 2:13).
Now let us consider for a moment the conditions of pardon. That there are conditions to be met no one could seriously doubt if acquainted with the teachings of the Bible. Faith in Christ is an indispensable requirement of pardon. Through faith we grasp the fact of Jesus’ Son ship and learn to love him because he first loved us. Love leads to repentance, wherein we determine to serve him, putting sin out of our lives. By Baptism we make a formal application of the benefits of his shed blood. The conditions of pardon then are faith, (John 14:1; Rom. 5:1); repentance, (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30) and baptism, (Acts 2:38; 1 Pet. 3:21). One who confesses faith in Christ without putting him on in baptism, simply confesses a dead faith. On the other hand, one who is baptized without confessing his faith in Christ receives nothing more than a useless immersion, since baptism is to be performed upon a confession, (Acts 8:37; Rom. 10:9,10).
Finally, what is the evidence of pardon from sins? Does God give a sign by which we can know we are saved? No, but he has given a promise. He has promised that if we meet the conditions outlined in his word, then he will pardon us from sins. Thus we know that when we obey his commandments we are saved. Pardon takes place in the mind of God. He has told us when he will pardon us, and we should believe his promises. It is a mistake to interpret unusual occurrences, or inward emotions, as signs from God to the effect that we are saved. We may be mistaken in such things, and the matter of salvation is too grave to take a chance. Rather, let us obey his commandments, trust his promises, and rest in the “full assurance of faith.”