All too often, we Christians want to complicate Christianity. We come up with rules we think must govern what it means to be a Christian. We make up rituals and rites and all manner of complication that have nothing to do with the Christian life.
If you have not read the earlier posts on this subject, find the “Categories” list in the right-hand column of this page and click on “Christianity 101.” This will pull up all the previous posts so you can read through them in order.
One of the least understood subjects in Christendom, in my experience, is God’s forgiveness. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, part of the prayer we raise is for God to forgive us. He extends that forgiveness as a part of our salvation, yet I continually hear Christians asking God for forgiveness.
Do we doubt that He actually forgave us at our salvation? Do we not think Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross and subsequent resurrection was sufficient to win our salvation?
But, David, I’ve continued to sin since my salvation.
Yes, I’m quite sure you have, as have I and every other Christian. But do we need to put Jesus back on the cross? Do we need to be saved all over again?
No! Salvation is a once and done deal. If you do not understand that, please let me know in a comment, and I’ll dedicate a future blog to this subject.
The God who made us and provided for our salvation knows us—better than we know ourselves. He knew when He allowed His Son to be placed on that cross that we would continue to sin even after we were born again. And He made provision for that continued sin.
The Apostle John addresses this subject in the book of First John. Verses eight and nine of the first chapter read as follows in the New American Standard Bible:
If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
There’s no point trying to hide sin from God. He knows about it before we even commit it. All we do when we do that is deceive ourselves and build a wall between ourselves and God.
The only way for a born-again Christian to deal with sin is to confess it to God. When we do that, verse nine above says He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
It doesn’t say anything about doing some kind of penance or fingering a bunch of beads on a string or lighting a candle. It says confess our sins to God. Obviously, we must make that confession with a repentant heart. Otherwise, we’re just playing a game and pretending to confess. But as long as our hearts are repentant, the confession is all God asks for.
He takes it upon Himself not only to forgive us but also to cleanse us. What does that mean? His cleansing is the process by which He conforms us to the image of His Son, as He promised in Romans 8:28 & 29.
Cleansing is not an instantaneous item. There’s a saying that we have been saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved. “We have been saved” refers to our rebirth when we accepted Jesus as our savior. “We are being saved” refers to the ongoing process of cleansing us and conforming us to the image of Jesus. “We will be saved” refers to our ultimate perfection when we finally meet Jesus face to face.
This is all God’s doing. Our part is to turn to Jesus for salvation, which we have already done if we are born-again Christians, and to confess our sins as God brings them to our attention. That’s it. When we do those two things, God does all the rest.
Please feel free to leave a comment agreeing, disagreeing or asking questions about what is written here. Feel free also to leave your email address if you’d like a personal reply to a question or disagreement.
If you abide in Me and My word abides in you, then you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.
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David, you’ve provided one of the best descriptions on the subject of forgiveness I’ve had the pleasure to read.
Great insights as always David! Thanks for setting me straight on that. Was great to see you on Sat, I felt like a huge weight was lifted. Happy birthday dear friend!
Thank you, Charity. I’m so glad we’re part of each other’s lives.
Thank you for this. I’ve had individuals tell me that asking God for forgiveness shows a lack of faith, and to me, not asking shows a certain degree of presumption that makes me uncomfortable. 🙂
Glad I was able to help.
Again, so glad you wrote this. This explains the process or journey of our lives. Jesus was slain before the foundations of the world; therefore, we were forgiven before we were ever put on this earth. We were in Him when he died and forgiven when he paid the price. Now that we know we are forgiven, we can focus on growing up to maturity as His sons.
Right, June. Thanks for your comment.
Thank you, Jesus, for the eternal gift of salvation. Would that I could refrain from sinning, however.
You won’t in this life, sweetie, but it’s a worthy goal.