You know, for whatever reason, one of the most difficult things to truly accept about what Jesus did is the extent of our forgiveness of sins. For most of my life I thought I was forgiven of all my past sins but my current and future sins were up to me to take care of with God.
Ever heard the preacher say, “You best keep a short account with God?” Sure you have! What he/she is saying is that when we sin, our sinning is piling up between us and God and we better shorten the accounting between us and Him or else…
This made so much sense to me in the past. In fact, I’m sure I was one of those preachers who said to keep “short account with God.” This raises so many questions in my mind today. For example:
- How short does the account need to be? 3 or 4 sins? Just today’s sins?
- How am I supposed to shorten this account?
- Is a short sin account better than a long sin account? Doesn’t Paul write that the wages of sin is death? That sounds like just having one sin on one’s account spells death.
So what is the truth about forgiveness? Is our forgiveness complete or is it contingent on our ability to shorten our sin account? You may have never even considered this question because, like me, you were so indoctrinated with a religious system that taught you were forgiven based on your ability to remember your sins and ask God to forgive you of your sins. If that’s the way it works, then what about the sins we forget to ask forgiveness from? Are those forgiven? If daily/constant confession of sins is required for continual forgiveness, then let’s really consider what that means. That means that we better remember each and every sin and list each and every sin to God otherwise we’re left with “unconfessed sins” which, by this definition, are “unforgiven sins.” And what does Paul say is the wages of one of these sins? DEATH.
So is that the way it works? Are we forgiven of sins as we remember them and ask God to forgive us of them? NO! Bible teachers today might answer “yes” but none of the Apostles did. They knew better! If your forgiveness was contingent upon your memory and your confession of each sin, consider the following. Hold out your right hand. In your right hand pile all the sins you’ve ever committed! Pretty tall pile right! Now hold out your left hand. In your left hand pile all the sins you’ve remembered to confess and get forgiveness from. I’m willing to bet that the pile in your left hand is must less than the pile in your right hand. Again, if your forgiveness is contingent upon your memory and your confession of each sin, then, more than likely, you have unforgiven sin on your account and Paul says you deserve death.
You must ask yourself, “Is this the good news of the grace of God?” Is the good news that you must now keep track of every sin you ever commit and ask God to forgive you of each one in order to have a clear record with God and not deserve death in Hell? The truth is so much better!
I John 1:9 says that when we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS! That means that whenever you recognized your true condition in Adam (sinner) and admitted you couldn’t do anything about it and placed your faith in Jesus, he forgave you and cleansed you from ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS! Do you see that? When you were saved, you were cleansed from ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS. Ask yourself, “If I have been forgiven and cleansed from ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS, how much unrighteousness (sins) do I need cleansing from?” Do you see it?
John goes on to say in 1 John 2:12, “I write to you dear children because your sins have been forgiven for His name’s sake.” Two quick thoughts:
- “your sins have been forgiven” – Do you see the past tense? It’s actually perfect tense in the greek. This means that your forgiveness happened in the past and the forgiveness remains for the present and future! It’s also passive, meaning you didn’t do it! So God forgave our sins in the past and we remain forgiven today and forever.
- “for His name’s sake”- this is so cool to me! John is saying that God forgave our sins for His own name’s sake. Sure we benefit from it–definitely. But it is for His own name’s sake. Now think with me. If God does something for His own name’s sake, how thoroughly do you think He did it? How permanently do you think He did it? How completely do you think He did it? Do you think that God forgave all our sins for His own name’s sake and the very sake of His name is now in the hands of our memory to remember every sin and confess it to God in order to remain forgiven? I don’t think so!
So, how forgiven are we? However much God values His own name is how forgive we are for we have been forgiven for His own name’s sake. What about future sins? Were not all our sins future sins 2000 years ago on the Cross? We are forgiven! As difficult as it may be to believe, you are 100% forgiven of all your sins, past, present & future! That, my friends, is some really good news!
So stop listening to the “keep short accounts with God” lines. If you believe Jesus, you have no sin accounting with God! Celebrate your freedom in Christ.