MISUNDERSTANDING: We are only forgiven for past, accidental & confessed sin

Suppose you had to participate in the following activity…

(A) USE THE TABLE BELOW TO WRITE OUT A LIST OF ALL YOUR PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE, ACCIDENTAL & DELIBERATE SINS… 

Lifetime of Sins

Obviously there will be lots of sins from your past that you’ve forgotten you committed. Obviously it’s impossible to predict what sins you are going to commit in the future. And obviously this table would not be large enough.

But for the sake of the activity, let’s imagine that you were able to fill in the table accurately.

(B) GO THROUGH AND CROSS OFF ALL THE SINS WHICH YOU HAVE CONFESSED TO GOD…

Lifetime of Sins Crossed out

Obviously there will still be many sins not crossed out. Some remain unconfessed because you forgot you committed them. Some remain unconfessed because you did not even realize they were sins. And some remain unconfessed simply because you did not find the time. But whatever the reason, all of us live with unconfessed sin on our record.

(C) DRAW A CIRCLE AROUND ALL THE SINS THAT JESUS HAS PAID FOR…

Possibility #1
Many people would only place a circle around their past, accidental, confessed sins.

Lifetime of Sins Crossed out & Circle 1

Possibility #2
Others would place a circle around all their past, present and future accidental sins.

Lifetime of Sins Crossed out & Circle 2

Possibility #3
Some would place a circle around all their past, present, future, deliberate & accidental sins.

Lifetime of Sins Crossed out & Circle 3

So which is correct?

If ‘Possibilitiy #1’ is correct, then no one would make it to heaven.

If ‘Possibility #2’ is correct, it also means that no one would make it to heaven because everybody deliberately sins. Despite what some people might think, nearly all sin is deliberate. We sin because we have a sinful nature which loves sin and craves sin.

Therefore, the only option that makes any sense is ‘Possibility #3’. Jesus died on the cross to pay for sin in full. He wants us to be sure that we are forgiven, sure that we are going to heaven and sure that we have escaped God’s condemnation. This can only happen if Jesus has paid for all our past, present, future, accidental & deliberate sin.

The Bible teaches that we are not forgiven because we avoid deliberate sin, or because we confess our sin. But rather we are forgiven if we place our life and eternity in Jesus hands, trusting Him to pay for our sin in full.

“God not only forgives the former sins you have committed; but looks through his fingers and forgives the sins you will yet commit” – Martin Luther

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ILLUSTRATION: McDonalds

Mcdonalds-95-logoSuppose I walk into McDonalds one day and I ask for a Big Mac. The man serving me politely asks me for $4.80. So I reach for my wallet only to realize that I left it at home. Usually I would walk away, but I am really hungry so I begin to plead with the man serving me. I tell him that I’m really sorry I left my wallet at home. I then ask him if there is anyway that he can give me the Big Mac for free. Of course he says no. But I don’t give up and I tell him how I will never do anything like this again if he could just find it in his heart to give me the Big Mac. So eventually he gives in and gives me the burger.

A week later, I am hungry again so I walk into the same McDonalds store and see the same man that served me last week. Again I ask for a Big Mac, and again he tells me that it will cost $4.80. So again I reach for my wallet and again I have left my wallet at home. Despite the fact that this is extremely embarrassing, I ask him if he can once again find a way to give me the Big Mac for free. It is even more difficult to convince him this time, but eventually he gives in after I explain that this is the absolute last time.

A week later again, I go into the same McDonalds & see the same guy working there. I again ask for a Big Mac and find myself in the same situation. For a third week in a row, I have forgotten my wallet. And this time, no matter how hard I try, the man serving me is not going to give me the Big Mac for free.

But what if I have a friend who feels sorry for me? Without me knowing, he goes up to the man behind the counter and says: “Here’s $1,000. Give that guy who keeps forgetting his wallet whatever he asks for”. That would change everything. The next time I ask for a Big Mac and  realize I don’t have my wallet, the guy serving me is going to ask “Do you want fries with that?”

Why?

BECAUSE MY FRIEND PAID FOR ME!

The same is true for us in our approach to God. So often we ask God for forgiveness, promising that we’ll never ever sin again. But within days, sometimes within hours, we have already broken our promise. So we go to God again, begging for His mercy, once again promising that we’ll never sin again. But over and over again we break our promise.

But what if we didn’t have to beg God to forgive us? What if we didn’t have to keep hoping to catch God in a good mood? What if we didn’t have to keep promising to do something that we know we can’t do?

Christians can be sure that they are forgiven because Jesus actually paid for their sin in full. It would be unjust for God to punish them for their sin, when Jesus has paid the price for them to escape God’s punishment.

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