Examples of primary doctrine are Jesus died on the cross for forgiveness of our sins and was raised from the dead for our expectation of eternal life beyond this realm of existence for all who believe upon Him as their savior and Lord... We are to lead as obedient as lives as we can according to biblical teachings, etc. Examples of secondary doctrine are whether one believes in pre, mid or post-tribulation “rapture” or harvesting and gathering of the saints. Believing in primary biblical doctrine is essential in securing one’s spiritual salvation, while points of view or opinions in secondary doctrine really have no bearing in the end as to one’s salvation.
However, one who is militant in their belief concerning secondary doctrine can run into spiritual dilemmas, sometimes even dangerous. Consider a person who is vehement in their belief of pre-tribulation rapture. If the Lord does not return when they expect Him to, they run the risk of losing their faith in God and His promises.
This month we’re going to study a secondary doctrine with two main schools of thought. Belief in either of them has nothing to do with security of salvation, unless, that is, a person has a militant viewpoint about one of them...our future sins being already forgiven. I want to admit right here that I have changed my mind about this doctrine since I wrote my November 2014 blog "Can Unrepentance Affect a Christian's Salvation?" This has come about after studying the subject more deeply. I'm sorry for any confusion I may cause with two blogs that are so opposed in opinion. It attests to the fact that we are all in a constant state of learning!
This first school of thought claims that when Christ died on the cross, all sins, past present and future have been forgiven for those who depended upon Jehovah or later Jesus Christ as their deliverer from the second death. So far, so good. But it also claims that, because of this, there is no reason to ask for forgiveness when we now sin, because forgiveness has already been granted us. Christ’s work of forgiveness was finished on the cross. After all, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:13,14 ESV It says, “having forgiven us all our trespasses...” Such people who tend to hold to this interpretation also tend to believe in unconditional eternal security (another secondary doctrine).
But outside of only being part of the story, this thinking can be potentially dangerous to a Christian.
Throughout the New Testament epistles, the writers were warning against taking liberty with God’s grace to satisfy their own carnal desires. I believe it was this that Paul had to deal with the assembly at Rome, “The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:20,21 “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” Romans 6::1,2 NIV
Some who believe all of our sins have already been forgiven may be more prone to live a more lax and apathetic spiritual life, because they downplay the Holy Spirit’s voice of conviction. In Hebrews 10:26 and 27, we read an even more solemn message to those who think they can practice an unspiritual lifestyle because they are covered by God’s grace, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” Make no mistake. This epistle was written to believers. The word “knowledge” is epignosis and means “Full discernment; acknowledgement”. “Deliberately sinning doesn’t mean a sin here or there. It means practicing a lifestyle of sin...being a slave to sin.
Is Christ’s work of forgiveness done? If so, why is He in heaven right now interceding and mediating for us? Actually, He is interceding for us in several different ways...to make a way for believers to have access to the Father, etc. But He is also the perfect Mediator for our sins. “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." 1st John 2:1,2 The problem in understanding all this is that, on one hand, Jesus Christ purchased and atoned for all the world’s sins on the cross. But at the same time, He is still actively being our Advocate, Mediator, Intercessor in heaven as we sin now and in the future. In other words, the means by which we are forgiven has already been done, while the act of being forgiven does not occur until the sin takes place. Remember, this is all only my opinion! It’s nothing to get excited or upset about.
So, how are our present and future sins interceded for and forgiven? I believe it is through confession. 1st John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sin sand purify us from all unrighteousness.” “Unrighteousness” here means the unrighteousness of sin. In other words, the sin itself. Again, keep in mind, John’s audience was Christians (including himself, because he writes “we”).
Also notice the order in which the forgiveness process occurs in this verse: 1) We confess our sins 2) He forgives us and cleanses us from that sin. Praise God He forgives us with that atonement of blood that was shed on the cross! Again, some might say, “Why confess my sins if they’ve already been forgiven?” I don’t know about you, but if I commit a sin and am confessing it, I am automatically in a humble state before the Lord. The Spirit has convicted me, and I am ready to try my best to repent of that sin.
Romans 3:23-25, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” Former sins that had been committed up to the time they accepted Christ as their savior.
I will not venture to guess how God will deal with unconfessed and unrepentant sin pertaining to salvation. That is still a mystery of God to me.
It may seem as if I’m splitting hairs in this blog. I have written it because I have seen with my own eyes people who have taken God’s mercy and abused it....taken His precious forgiveness and trampled on it without discernment or conscience.
Some may say that believing future sins are not forgiven can also cause a spiritual dilemma, because believing in that school of thought can be proof of a lack of faith in the sovereignty and certainty of God’s forgiveness. Speaking for myself, if my opinion expressed here is wrong, I’d rather err on the side of safety! My placing such emphasis on confessing my sins and asking forgiveness for them can in no way hurt my relationship with the Godhead. I will not be abusing God’s grace. Furthermore, keeping the need for forgiveness in the back of my mind should hopefully prompt me to live a holier life of humility. The only way my point of view could be harmful is if I allowed Satan to convince me that if I just happened to miss an opportunity to confess a sin, etc. that it would “put a mark” on my record that could not be erased. For God’s forgiveness is always there (and the slate wiped clean) for any who are willing to admit their sins. That is what 1st John 1:9 says.
Till next month, may God bless you mightily.