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Are we forgiven of future sins?

Today’s Question: I was reading a book by a popular Christian minister who taught on grace, and in the book he says that all our sins, including future sins, are totally forgiven. He went on to say that we do not need to ask forgiveness for our sins since we are already forgiven. Something about this just doesn’t seem right. Can you give me your view about this?

Bible Answer: You have reasons to be concerned about this teaching. There is no place in the entire Bible that says our “future” sins are forgiven. On the contrary, the Bible teaches that we are forgiven of “past” sins. Consider the Epistle of Peter. He addresses a believer who is not growing in character and says, “He is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins” (2 Peter 1:9). Notice the tense of forgiveness. The believer is forgiven of “past sins.”

            This Christian author is confusing “forgiveness” with the “atonement.” It is true that Jesus died for the “sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). And since not everyone has been born yet, Jesus had to die for future sins as well. In fact, every sin we now commit is on the future side of the cross. This doesn’t mean, however, that God has pardoned everyone. He has only made provision for forgiveness of all sins. He has not forgiven all sins. For example, the world’s sins have not been forgiven. If they were, how could God judge the sinner since they would be forgiven? So the atonement of Christ does not equate to forgiveness—not until a person accepts the sacrifice of Christ.

Concerning the believer: we are forgiven of past sins and not future ones. How can you be forgiven of something you have not yet done? God can’t forgive future sins, since they have not been committed, yet.

John, writing to believers says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9). Now these greasy grace teachers erroneously say that John was writing to sinners, but this is untrue. Notice the pronoun John uses: “we”. He includes himself with those that need to “confess our sins”. If the pronoun is not enough proof consider who John addressed the letter to, “I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name” (1 John 2:12). He was writing to God’s “dear children.” Not to the world. And speaking of forgiveness he tells them that they “have been forgiven.” The words “have been” are past tense. He did not say your future sins are forgiven. No. Just you have been forgiven. God has forgiven the believer of his past sins.

Then what should a believer do when he sins? He should “confess his sins” and God “is faithful to forgive” him of his sins. John did not say that if you sinned, “Don’t worry or mention it before God because you are already forgiven.”

The teaching you read from this man gives an unbiblical and dangerous approach to forgiveness. It gives the believer the false impression that present, immoral conduct is not important since Christ forgave that immoral conduct a long time ago. Jude warns against any such misuse of grace, “For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord” (Jude 4). These godless men believe in grace—in fact they really talk much about grace—however, they “change the grace of our God into a license for immorality.”  We must always be on guard against any abuse of grace. Grace should be “used” but not “abused.”

What is the real point of telling someone not to ask for forgiveness? What good will come from this? It’s only going to lead people to not take sin seriously. Confession of sin makes us more aware of God’s holiness. And the church is already lacking in holiness; we don’t need this unbiblical teaching to weaken holiness.

So the Bible teaches that if we sin we need to humble ourselves and ask God to forgive us, and be aware that God is gracious, and because of the atonement, we can rest assured that He will forgive us for Christ’s sake.

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