Questions About Forgiveness

Psalm 130:3-4

Are there varying degrees of sin, of guilt, and of punishment? Just as some breaches of the law were weightier than others, so the sins of men and women today are of a greater and lesser degree, depending upon the circumstances. Those who perish without the light of the gospel shall indeed perish forever under the wrath of God, but their punishment will be far less than that of those who go to hell pushing God out of their way (Rom. 2:12; Matt. 11:20-24; Lk. 12:47-48; John 19:10-11). Will there be any forgiveness of sins in the world to come? Some people reading Matthew 12:31-32 have erroneously concluded that our Lord there suggests that there is another day of grace yet to come in which sins shall be forgiven. The text teaches no more and no less than the fact that once this gospel age is over, once the day of grace has ended, once you have breathed your last breath on this earth, there is no hope for your soul. If you die without forgiveness, you will spend eternity in hell without so much as a faint, glimmering hope of forgiveness (1 Cor. 6:1-2). Why is the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost (Matt. 12:31-32) said to be unforgivable? This is a sin committed after a person has received the knowledge of the truth, under the illuminations, convictions, and demonstrations of the Spirit of God; and yet, through the instigation of Satan, and the wickedness of his own heart, knowingly, and willfully, and maliciously denies this truth, and obstinately persists denying it. The person who commits this sin never comes to repentance. Therefor he has no hope of forgiveness, but only a fearful looking for of judgment and indignation (Heb. 10:26-29). What happens when a believer sins? This is a question that perplexes many. If I trust Christ now and am forgiven of all my past sins, what will happen when I sin again? Will the Lord turn against me again? Will I lose my salvation? Will I forfeit my interest in Christ and his salvation? Let us find the answer in the Word of God alone. When a believer sins, much happens in his own heart and experience. He often loses the joyous knowledge of Christís manifest presence. Our communion with him whom we most love is broken. Our heavenly Father chastens us sore. But our standing before God, our relationship with him, and our acceptance with him is not affected at all. Our acceptance with our God is a matter of grace, not merit. It is in Christ our Substitute, not in ourselves. It does not in any way depend upon us and cannot in any way be altered by us (Rom. 4:8; Psa. 32:1-2; 89:30-37; John 10:28; 2 Tim. 2:13; 1 John 2:1-2). Should we pray for the forgiveness of sins? Unbelievers are not told to pray for forgiveness, but to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31). Still the question stands, ďIf our sins are already forgiven, is it right for us as believers to pray for forgiveness?Ē Rather than speculating about it, letís simply see what the Book of God says and the saints of God have done (Lk. 11:2-4; Ex. 34:9; Psa. 25:11; 32:5-6; Dan. 9:19). Will the sins of Godís elect be exposed in the day of judgment or in the world to come? There are many who claim to believe in salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, who yet hold people in bondage with the threat of some form of future punishment (the loss of rewards) and the promise of rewards for doing good. Such doctrine is contrary to Scripture and to every doctrine of the gospel, and dishonors Christ in the most insulting manner (Rev. 21:4). There is no such thing as partial righteousness or partial holiness. The basis of our acceptance with God is the person and work of Christ our Substitute. The notion that he will expose the sins of his beloved bride on her wedding day is preposterous beyond imagination. The purpose of God in election, the purpose of Christ in redemption, and the purpose of the Holy Spirit in sanctification would all fall to the ground if we are found with even one spot of sin in that great and glorious day (Eph. 1:3-6; 5:25-27; Jude 24-25). How can I obtain the forgiveness of sin? "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).††††††††† †††††† 3

Don Fortner