Christianity 201

Have All Your Sins Been Forgiven?

A special supplementary article by Russell Young

The Word of God does not reveal that all sins, including those that a confessor will commit have been forgiven, although this is a common understanding. Certainly, all of those committed before confession of faith have been forgiven and forgotten. (Col 2:13) The consequence of the confessor’s appreciation of this fact is great. Those who carry sin must answer for it at the judgment seat of Christ.

Hebrews 9:15 states, “For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.” (Heb 9:15 NIV, Italics added) Peter has presented that the believer “has been cleansed of his past sins.” (2 Pet 1:9 NIV) “Past sins” were cleansed so that we might receive the Spirit, who provides eternal salvation. (2 Thess 2:13; Titus 3: 5─6) “He redeemed us…so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” (Gal 3:14 NIV) It is the Spirit who is to lead in righteous living and the avoidance of further sin. The sins committed before confession of Christ’s lordship (Rom 10:9─10) were cleansed through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness; avoidance of sin following is availed through the life of Christ being exercised through his presence in the believer.

John has made the need for confession of sin following redemption clear in his epistle. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jn 1:9 NIV) Confessed sin at this point is advocated by Christ as high priest. “I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” (1 Jn 2:1 NIV) The first application of the blood of Christ was to remove the barrier of sin that separates from God so that the Spirit might be obtained; following applications of his blood are advocated or pleaded by Christ with the Father for sanctification and transformation. Sinning is rebellion against God and brings his wrath since he has provided everything that is necessary for life and godliness (2 Pet 1:3) and disobedience will bring God’s wrath. (Eph 5:6)

Some would like to believe that their cleansing need was solely satisfied by Christ through the imputation of his righteousness; however, the believer’s need is on-going and righteousness is being “awaited.” (Gal 5:5 NIV) Paul wrote: “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” (Rom 5:9─10 NIV, Italics added) It must be appreciated that Christ came to destroy the work of Satan…all of it. (1 Jn:3 NIV) That is, he had to cleanse the believer of his past sins and to fit him or her with the Spirit so that they might be competent to meet God’s “righteous requirements” concerning their practices, and have life. Paul wrote: “And so [God] condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” (Rom 8:3─4 NIV) Further, he wrote: “We have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live by the sinful nature you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Rom 8:12─14 NIV) The life of Christ, as Spirit (2 Cor 3:17, 18; Col 1:27; Gal 2:20, 4:6), must be lived (Rom 8:4; Gal 6:7─8) within the believer. “Christ in you [is] your hope of glory.” (Col 1:27 NIV)

Through his baptism the believer pledges to maintain a good conscience toward God. (1 Pet 3:21) He or she has proclaimed that they are committed to practice death to sin. It indicates an intent through a pledge. This does not mean, as stated above by John, that the believer will not sin, but that the body is to be reckoned to have been crucified. This being so, he cannot sin because a dead body does not have life to sin. “If we have been united with him in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.” (Rom 6:5 NIV Italics added) The “if” makes this a conditional statement revealing that the resurrection is available if death to sin takes place. Paul affirmed this teaching concerning his own hope. To the Philippians he wrote, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Phil 3:10─11 NIV) Christ’s suffering was for victory over temptation. (Heb 2:18) Paul proclaimed that he had to “press on” to gain the resurrection (Phil 3:12 NIV); so must the believer. Those who “overcome” will inherit the New Jerusalem. (Rev 21:7).

To further this understanding, John has written, “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” (1 Jn 2:6 NIV) The only way that a person can walk as Jesus did is to obediently submit to his leading. Christ lived without sin in the body that the father had prepared for him in the womb of Mary and he can do it in the body of the believer. There is both a life to be lived and a death to be lived if sin is to be avoided and victory gained.

Some might say, “We all sin! How can we avoid it?” To understand the means to victory over sin requires and understanding of the ministry of Christ as Holy Spirit and as High Priest. As Spirit, the Lord enlightens, leads, and empowers the obedient for victory. However, he or she must be obediently led. (Jn 10:27; Heb 5:9) When a person has been convicted concerning the commission of a sin, he or she is to confess it to be forgiven. When warned of its presence before commission, it is to be avoided. The believer is to “work out [his or her] own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Phil 2:12) The practice of sin cannot be taken lightly. The writer of Hebrews has admonished, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth (including conviction by the Spirit), no sacrifice for sins is left, but only the fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire.” (Heb 10:26─27 NIV)

As high priest, Christ advocates for the one who has sinned (1 Jn 2:1), provided it has been confessed or is committed in ignorance. Those who deliberately practice sin—”walk in darkness” (1 Jn 1:6), who have been informed (convicted by the Spirit) of its presence and deliberately continue to sin, will not enjoy the advocacy of Christ. “No sacrifice for sins” is left for them. (Heb 10:26) When sin is recognized it is to be humbly confessed so that it might be forgiven. (1 Jn 1:9, 2:1) All sin is offensive to God and as high priest the Lord will intervene on behalf of the believer when he or she confesses sin or when he or she sins “in ignorance.” (Heb 9:7; see also 8:5) The believer cannot confess that which he doesn’t know.

When Christ said that his burden was not heavy, he was referring to the fact that he works gently with the believer, the person who has faith in him and seeks to obey him. His purpose is to make the believer a sacrificial offering acceptable to God. (Rom 15:16) It is to transform the believer from having a heart and soul that brings pain to God (Gen 6: 5─6) to one that is acceptable. As Spirit he convicts of the sin that he is addressing in the believer’s life, although other sins might be being practiced through the believer’s ignorance. All sin is offensive to God and the Lord, as High Priest and knowing the weaknesses of people (Heb 2:17─18), will advocate for a person concerning those sins that are unknown or have not been revealed. Believers are God’s “workmanship” (Eph 2:10 NIV) or “masterpiece” (NLT) and through a re-birth he is re-creating them in his likeness. (Rom 8:29)

This is not the depiction of grace that is often presented. However, the life offering of Christ is a gift of grace, the pardon of past sins is a gift of grace. Release from the Old Covenant which kills and access to the New which gives life (2 Cor 3:6) is a gift of grace. The gift of the Holy Spirit along with his sanctifying and transforming ministry is a gift of grace. The advocacy of Christ as High Priest is also a gift of grace.

To make clear that not all sin has been forgiven, the Word has addressed the issue of hypocrisy. Hypocrites are those who like to live a lie (Rev 22:15), who walk in darkness (1 Jn 1:6). They say one thing, that Christ is their lord (Rom 10: 9─10), and live according to their own leading. Christ said that the servant who is unfaithful would be treated as the hypocrites. “He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mt 24:51 NIV) They had confessed Christ as lord and had tasted his goodness; otherwise, they would not be classified as hypocrites. Their sin and disregard for righteous living will not be pardoned; the cost will be great.

Peter spoke of others who have left the straight way and have wandered off, loving the wages of wickedness. (2 Pet 2:15) They had escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior and have again become entangled in it and overcome. He says that they are worse off than they were at the beginning. (2 Pet 2:20).

John wrote, “If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life.” (1 Jn 5:16 NIV) That prayer is to relieve his brother, a fellow believer, of the consequences of his sin. It appears that without such a prayer, death awaits. (See also James 5:20)

Paul concluded his first epistle to the Thessalonians with the admonition that it “was God’s will that they should be sanctified” and listed numerous unrighteous practices following which he cautioned his “brothers” that “the Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you.”

Paul admonished believers in Galatia not to be deceived. “Do not be deceived: God will not be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Gal 6:7─8)

Further, those who dismiss their sin with the understanding that it has been forgiven must make sense of Biblical teachings concerning judgment, the need for righteous living, unfaithful living, living by the natural spirit, the ministries of the Spirit and of Christ as high priest, of wrath following justification, and of separation from God.

Those who walk indifferently in the world supposing that their sins have been forgiven regardless of the things that they do will face consequences for their actions. “For we all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (2 Cor 5:10 NIV) Those who encourage or allow rebellion and wickedness through their teaching will also bring destruction on themselves. (2 Pet 2:1)

Peter wrote of teachers who would introduce destructive heresies by denying or rejecting the sovereign Lord. If he is not seen as being sovereign over the believer and honoured through the

Spirit, he is not seen as being the sovereign Lord. This understanding is crucial. Adam and Eve did not recognize the sovereignty or authority of God and through Satan’s deception ignored his command. The Israelites would not accept his sovereignty and despite his constant chastisement and blessings, and the weakness of their flesh, went their own way. Christ has been availed to live his life in the flesh of believer’s and those who do not recognize his sovereignty will also join the many on the broad road that leads to destruction.

The epistle of 2 Peter reveals the fate of those who “despise authority” and live corrupted lives through their sinful nature, those who have rejected the leadership of the Holy Spirit, or sovereignty of Christ. Their failure to recognize the holiness of God and his righteous requirements will lead to their destruction. Peter has concluded his letter by reminding his readers that some people distort Paul’s writing, as they do other Scriptures, to their own destruction, and cautions them to be on guard not to be carried away by the error of lawless men–those who deny the laws of Christ (1 Cor 9:21) or the law of the Spirit of life. (Rom 8:2) — and fall from their secure position. (2 Pet 3:16─17; Jn 8:35) The adoption of lawlessness through the practice of sin (1 Jn 3:5), which is failure to obey his commands, will bring about the end of the known world. Isaiah prophesied, “The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth’s inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left.” (Isa 24: 5─6 NIV) His commands were to be fully met by those who live according to the Spirit. (Rom 8:4)

Not all sin has been forgiven and as the Lord stated, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. (Mk 3:29) “Anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or alien, blasphemes the LORD and that person must be cut off from his people.” (Num 15:30 NIV)

Sin must be addressed; it will not be overlooked and has not been given full pardon; however, forgiveness can be availed through Christ for those walking in the light and seeking forgiveness for their transgressions.

Russell Young’s column appears on alternate Tuesdays. He is the author of Eternal Salvation: “I’m Okay! You’re Okay!” Really? available in print and eBook through Westbow Publishing, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble; and in Canada through Chapters/Indigo. 9781512757514

To read all of Russell’s contributions here at C201, click this link.

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