Recently, I heard a minister make the following statement: “If I commit the sin of adultery, I am not an adulterer. I’m a child of God who committed the sin of adultery and my heart is going to hate that. If I commit a sin of stealing, I am not a thief, I’m a child of God who committed the sin of stealing. You see, I don’t get my identity from what I do…”
This comment was made by a minister who advocates the position that all present, and future sins of believers are already forgiven in advance, which of course never need to be repented of because they are already forgiven.
I find it interesting that he said regarding adultery, “my heart is going to hate that”, yet repenting to God and seeking his forgiveness is out of the question in his theology.
When the heart is conscience of sin, we need to come to God for cleansing from sin. The apostle John tells us, “if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God”. ~ 1 John 3:20-21
Many Christians have embraced a false doctrine about sin because they have embraced a false doctrine about grace. Grace does not eradicated us from the responsibility of repenting of our sinful conduct when we knowingly sin against God. Instead, grace gives us the power to not sin when we yield to God.
The apostle John says, “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: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world”. 1 John 2:1-2
Jesus is our advocate with the Father when we sin, and he is the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins. Make no mistake about it, when you as a believer knowingly sin, you need cleansing and that is why Jesus is your advocate with the Father.
Now, in view of this, consider the words of the apostle Peter, who speaking to Christians says the following:
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? ~ 1 Peter 4:12-17
Peter tells believers, “let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.”
Notice that Peter uses the terms “murderer” and “thief”. The notion that if a Christian steals, commits adultery, murders, yet he isn’t a thief, adulterer, or murderer is not consistent with the sound teachings of scripture.
The popular grace doctrine that teaches Christians that they never need to repent because all their present and future sins are forgiven in advance is dangerous because it denies the real effect that sin can have on a Christian.
Sin hardens the heart and sin that goes unchecked in the life of a Christian can cause them to eventually be hardened against God. The writer of Hebrews says the following to his fellow Jewish brethren, who he referred to as “holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling”.
Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end... ~ Hebrews 3:7-14
The notion that we, who are Christians, are already cleansed from all future sins and never need to repent again, even if we commit adultery or murder is not the doctrine of scripture.
In 1 Corinthians 5:1-2, the apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit confronted the Corinthians for the sin of fornication in their midst.
It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. ~1 Corinthians 5:1-2
If Paul inspired by the Spirit of God, reprimanded the Corinthians regarding this sin, then why do those who claim to be “grace teachers” not understand the severity of such sins in the life of a Christian? According to Paul’s letter to Titus, God’s grace teaches us to “deny ungodliness and worldly lusts”.
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. ~ Titus 2:11-14
Paul then tells Titus, “These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee” ~ 15.
Paul’s rebuke of the Corinthians moved them to repentance. In 2 Corinthians 7, Paul says the following to them:
For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow works repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world works death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter. ~ 2 Corinthians 7:8-11
Paul later expresses his concern about the lack of repentance of some among them.
For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults: And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:20-21
The ideology that sin is no longer an issue which Christians need to address because all “present and future sins” are already forgiven is nowhere taught in the scriptures. The teaching of scripture is that the “provision” for the cleansing of all sin has been made, but the one who lives in sin, or refuses to confess his sin, cannot be in fellowship with God.
If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. ~ 1 John 1:6-7
Those who teach a twisted view of grace claim that the book of Hebrews teaches that Jesus forgave us once for all, therefore all sins, including present and future sins are already forgiven in advance. According to this rational, if a Christian man commits adultery, that sin is already forgiven and cleansed even while he is in the act of committing the sin.
Such is not grace teaching. Rather, it is the doctrine of demons.
The Bible teaches us that Christ’s sacrifice was once for all. This does not mean that God can’t see our sins when we sin, or that sin doesn’t affect our fellowship with God. Neither does it mean that we do not need to repent when we know we have sinned. It simply means that there is no longer any need for the continuation of sacrificial offerings which were offered for sins under the law.
Jesus’s sacrifice will cleanse us, and keep on cleaning us when we sin if we continue in faithfulness towards Christ. Jesus is a priest forever after after the order of Melchisedek (He is both Priest and King at the right hand of God). There will never, ever, be a need for another sacrifice or another priest. Christ is sufficient forever!
The “once for all” texts in the book of Hebrews have to do with the efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice for the cleansing of sin. Those texts do not communicate the idea that all future sins have already forgiven in advance, resulting in Christians being absolved from any accountability for their future sins. Remember the author of Hebrews warns his fellow Jewish believers, whom he referred to as, holy brethren and partakers of the Heavenly calling, of allowing their hearts to become hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
Those who teach a twisted view of grace sometimes like to quote the text “But
he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit” ~ 1 Corinthians 6:17, to support their claims. However, this text is not in context of the ideology that present and future sins are already forgiven. Notice the two verse before 1 Corinthians 6:17
Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:15-16
Paul is not teaching that we are immune from the effects of sin because we are one spirit with the Lord in verse 17. Paul is contextually addressing the severity of fornication and the need to abstain from it because of our union with Christ. Thus, Paul says, “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body” ~ 18.
What Paul is teaching is that when a Christian sins against his own body by fornication, he sins against Christ, because his body is a member of Christ. As Christians, our bodies belong to the Lord and we are called to glorify God with both our body and spirit. It is with this in mind that Paul proceeds by saying: What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Finally, we need to remember the teaching of Paul in Romans 6. Paul begins by saying:
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? ~ Romans 6:1-2
Being dead to sin is a reference to our calling in Christ. In the next several verses (3- 10) Paul teaches about the power of the death and resurrection of Christ over sin, which we are called to experience by faith in our daily lives, but we must walk in fellowship with Christ.
The power of Christ’s death and resurrection becomes our victory over sin through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit who helps us yield to righteousness rather than yielding the impulses of sin in our flesh.
Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? ~ Romans 6:11-16