I heard “one of those messages” this morning. It was from a guy I respect very much but he said something that just didn’t sit well. He said we are forgiven for our past sins but not our future sins unless we confess our sins. I have all kinds of fundamental issues with that kind of statement but instead a diatribe of “opinion” here are the verses.
Acts 10:43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (ESV)
Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, (ESV)
Colossians 1:13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (ESV)
Hebrews 10:17 then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” 18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. (ESV)
Jesus died for our sins 2000 years ago. All of our sins were future. He suffered all the wrath of God for our sins. His forgiveness is unconditional. We only receive in faith.
But what about:
Matt 6:14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (ESV)
Remember this was part of the sermon on the mount. Jesus was showing the people how much they needed a saviour, how much they needed Grace. This statement was in this context:
Matt 5:20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (ESV)
I am sure that no one can claim success in their own righteousness. The good news (the Gospel) is that Jesus gave us His perfect righteousness.
But what about:
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. (ESV)
This statement was written in this context:
1 John 1:6 If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. (ESV)
If you are in Christ you are in the light. You are not in darkness. The audience of this chapter in John is written to those who said they did not need Jesus because deceptive gnostic teaching.
I can go on and on with point and counter point but let me change course a bit.
Here is a definite truth: There is no condemnation in Christ! If you are feeling condemned, it is from the devil not from God. You have been forgiven of all your sins, even the ones you haven’t committed yet. That isn’t an excuse to see what you can get away with. If you are a child of God that would be a torturous existence since your new nature is divinely implanted and joined with the Holy Spirit. To live like that is a total contradiction of your new nature.
So why do so many leaders, teachers, etc. keep coming back to the issue of sin? I think it has to do with how they are wired and fear. Think about perspective. For example think about how the five fold might look at sin.
Apostolic: Why do we talk about such a tiny little thing compared to the awesome power of God? I just don’t get it. It is a waste of time. God is too good and Grace is too big to be distracted by anything of the enemy. (this would be me)
Prophetic: Sin among us will impact our future. Our prosperity and influence will be affected by any current investment. We need to lean forward and see a brighter future apart from sin.
Teacher: Actually there is a precedent for discussing behavior based on what Paul tells many of the churches. Living in a flesh mindset will result in poor decisions and destructive outcomes. Living in the Spirit is a reality based on Biblical insight.
Evangelist: Jesus paid for it all! Stop sinning! You are free so be free indeed!!!
Pastor: Sin is destructive to the assembly. We need to set examples for others. We need to realize our position and influence on others. If we let this get out of hand there will be chaos.
The truth is people aren’t all the same and some may “need” to confess. Others may “need” to declare. Others may just reside in the heavenlies all the time.
If you are an overachiever, compulsive in nature, a perfectionist, you already condemn yourself for everything. You never get it right in your eyes so you beat yourself up all the time. For this type of person you need to look to Jesus and declare you are righteous. Tell the devil to take a hike and stop beating yourself up. Confess that God loves you and is delighted in everything you do.
If you are a people pleaser, a lover of all, a gift giver and free-thinker you can’t fathom disappointing God. How could you? So if you slip up you quickly confess because you just can’t help it. It is natural for you to pour out your soul to God. It’s OK. Just let it out, look to Jesus and declare He loves you. Look to the Holy Spirit and see His power inside of you.
If you are creative and imaginative, a self-starter, a ball juggler, the life of the party, you probably don’t hang out in self-condemnation land. You probably slip up, take notes on how you made a mistake and move on. Again look to Jesus and say thank you for His righteousness. He convicts you of it and you live from it.
If you are a dominating person, a natural leader, a power person you probably see sin as a stupid waste of time. If you make a mistake you rebuke the enemy and stomp on his head for a while and move on. Your confession is “nice try” and you look to Jesus and thank Him for Grace. There is power in the blood!
I believe Paul really understood the diversity of people.
1 Corinthians 9:19-23 Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it! (The Message)
So I understand that people are different. People are in different places in their walk. Still we should never react out of fear, ever. We should never react out of condemnation, ever. The language of Heaven, the nature of God is optimism. Grace is all we need. Sin consciousness gives a platform to the enemy. We need to be Jesus conscious. He saved us and He keeps us. We may find ourselves being “all things” to all men sometimes but let us respond out of His strength and not ours.