The Forgiveness of all sin
Does believing that God forgives future sins take the grace of God too far? Surely this is super risky on the part of God? I mean what’s to stop the believer carrying on with sinning in the knowledge that he or she is already forgiven? Look at the alternative though: If past sins are only covered, then you are forgiven up to the point of your confession or repentance only. Meaning of course, that every time you sin – you are no longer forgiven by God!
Under the OT
Under the Old Covenant this was indeed the case. Basically every year at the day of atonement the previous sins were covered by the blood of an animal. Atonement (which means to make amends) was made with an animal sacrifice by a priest and you were forgiven (to send away or let go.)
Leviticus 4:35 “and the priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him.”
Three things needed:
Three things were necessary for forgiveness of the sinner: a priest, a sacrifice and a death (the shedding of blood). Jesus was all three:
Hebrews 9:22 “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission (forgiveness)”
Hebrews 9:14 “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
Therefore, it is very clear that the atonement of sin and forgiveness are linked together strongly. You can’t have one without the other. God doesn’t just paper over the cracks and pretend. If he is to let go (forgive) then it has to be on the basis of an atoning sacrifice.
Jesus died for the sins of people not even born yet!
Hebrews 9:28 “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”
Therefore all my sins were future at that moment when on the cross he cried: “it is finished.”
All my sins were future when he cried out: “Father forgive them for they know what they do.”
1 Peter 2:24 “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”
So, if you believe in Jesus Christ you believe the fact that 2000 years ago before you were even born Jesus took all your sins (all of them from birth to death) in his own body on the cross. Hallelujah!
Forgiveness is a done deal!
If that is the case why is so hard to believe that you are forgiven all your sins past, present and future – as the price is paid?
Indeed, forgiveness is nearly always presented in the New Testament as a single event completed in the past at the cross:
Ephesians 4:32 “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
Note: If God was still forgiving sins then this passage should say even as God for Christ’s sake forgives you.
Here are a few more instances in the New Testament of how forgiveness is a one off event in the past:
Colossians 2:13 “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;”
Romans 4:7 “Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.”
By the way, Paul only mentions forgiveness once in the whole of Romans where he quotes Psalm 32 as above.
1 John 2:12 “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.”
Therefore my friend you can rejoice in the fact that your sins are forgiven!
What happens when I sin?
What happens when you do sin though? Are you still forgiven or have you notched up a debit in your account? For example, say this morning you were doing 95mph down the motorway – in a rush to get to work on time. Did heaven go into lock down and the angels on standby because of the wrath of God directed towards you. Do you need God to forgive you?
Well firstly, Jesus is not going to come back and die on the cross so that you can be forgiven. He’s died once for sin; the atonement is complete. Jesus is no longer on the cross!
1 Peter 3:18 “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:”
Secondly, God isn’t reckoning or counting sins any more:
Romans 4:17 “blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin”
However, what you are doing (driving at 95mph) is dangerous and foolish and has potentially serious consequences: when you sin you are making it much easier for the devil to defeat you and your maybe endangering others lives also. What you need right now is an intercessor or advocate else you may get to heaven quicker than you anticipated!
The good news is that Bible tells us what happens when you sin and its not 1 John 1:9. Its 2 John 1:
“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:”
Therefore God is not passive when you sin – Jesus is acting on your behalf. However, your coach and other advocate the Holy Spirit is going to be whispering or maybe even shouting: “slow down!”
Consequently, If you hear that voice then respond and admit or confess that what your doing is wrong – and of course slow down! That’s all you need to do – you are forgiven already. It’s that simple.
What about 1 John 1:9?
What about 1 John 1:9 which seems to imply that we only receive forgiveness when we confess?
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.
The problem is that this verse has been quoted so many times out of context that we read into it what it isn’t saying. It doesn’t say this:
“if we sin and confess our sins – then he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us form all unrighteousness”.
If we read it in the flow of 1 John 1:8 you will see that the if statement is not making forgiveness conditional but is contrasting between those in verse 8 who claim to be sinless (probably gnostics) and those in verse 9 who freely admit or confess their faults (believers).
1 John 1:8 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins…
Indeed, what is interesting is that the tense of the verbs to forgive and cleanse are not continuous as is confess but are in the greek aorist tense (a single event again referring back to the cross).
Summing up then and making sure you understand the benefits of this comprehensive New Covenant agreement:
The payment for all your sins was made before you were born (1 Peter 2:24 ) around AD 30 by the Son of God Jesus Christ.
You are forgiven of all your sins of you have committed and will ever commit because forgiveness and atonement are linked together. You can’t have forgiveness without blood being shed and that has and will only happen once (Hebrews 9:22).
Note: The danger of believing that past sins are covered only by the cross: is that every time you now sin you can never be forgiven because Jesus isn’t going to die again for you.
How is all this received? Only by faith in Jesus Christ.
Acts 13:39 “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”
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