Are Future Sins Already Forgiven?
January 17, 2011
Critical for a consistent belief in the doctrine of unconditional eternal security is the belief that all of the believer’s sins are forgiven – past, present, and future. As such, it is a main argument that is used to justify belief in OSAS. As the argument goes, ‘If Jesus paid for every sin, then how can we be judged by God for a sin when it has already been paid for? Therefore, even when we sin, there’s no possibility of it leading to outright apostasy, and thus, a forfeiture of salvation; we don’t even have to ask forgiveness for it because it has already been forgiven.’
Dr Charles Stanley writes:
“God forgave us long before we ever asked for it. He pardons us for sins we will never confess (1 John 1:9).”
Dave Hunt says:
“Salvation is the full pardon by grace from the penalty of all sin, past, present or future; eternal life is the bonus thrown in.”
On GotQuestions.org, we read:
“When we place our faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, all of our sins are forgiven. That includes past, present, and future, big or small. Believers do not have to keep asking for forgiveness or repenting in order to have their sins forgiven. Jesus died to pay the penalty for all of our sins, and when they are forgiven, they are all forgiven (Colossians 1:14; Acts 10:43).”
Writing duo Neil T. Anderson and Dave Park write,
“He has cancelled the debt of your sins past, present and future.” [Anderson and Park, Stomping out the Darkness, 2007, p. 74]
What are we to make of such claims, considering there is not one verse in Scripture that declares future sins are forgiven?
Are we to believe that Christ died for all men, AND that all sins – past, present, and future – were automatically pre-forgiven at the Cross? No – such a view flies in the face of Scripture, and logically leads to universalism (the belief that all men will be saved).
Are we to believe in the lucky lotto of limited atonement, AND that all the sins of the elect – past, present, and future – were automatically pre-forgiven at the Cross? No – such a view would fly in the face of Scripture, and lead to belief in Calvinism.
There is an underlying defect common to both of the above beliefs (Universalism and Calvinism). The defect is this: the belief that forgiveness is unconditional. If we use the Bible as our guide, we cannot avoid the fact that the forgiveness of sins is conditional. That is, when God offers forgiveness, there are conditions which must be met in order to receive forgiveness. These are faith and repentance (the reason I’ve kept the two separate is because repentance presupposes faith). Consider these statements:
“No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3, 5)
“Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” (Luke 17:3-4)
“And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)
“Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out.” (Acts 3:19)
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
These verses are quite clear about the issue: before forgiveness can occur, the condition of repentance must be met. Call me crazy, but I don’t think future sins are forgiven. If they were, why does Scripture say they won’t be forgiven unless they are confessed?
Consider these Scriptures:
“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it – the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 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.” (Romans 3:21-25)
“For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.” (2 Peter 1:9)
These verses make it clear that only our past sins are forgiven (the ones we have repented of).
Consider this verse:
“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 propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2)
Methinks that if our future sins are already forgiven, then our advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous, is in the ranks of the unemployed.
That’s all good and well – I can substantiate the position that declares only repented sins are forgiven, but what about the verses that were cited by the OSASers to substantiate their position? Just because one position can be substantiated by Scripture doesn’t mean that I can just ignore the verses used to prove the other.
Charles Stanley used 1st John, Chapter 1, and verse 9 to prove that unconfessed sins are pardoned. The verse says:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Hmmm, it doesn’t say what Mr Stanley wants it to say, does it? Curious, if this verse was to be stated in the negative, what would it say? It would say something along the lines of, ‘If we don’t confess our sins, he is faithful and just to not forgive us our sins…’
How this verse proves Mr Stanley’s point, I have no idea. To use 1 John 1:9 to prove that unconfessed sin is pardoned makes as much sense as using Genesis 1:1 to prove evolution.
Dave Hunt offered no Scriptural proof of his assertion.
GotQuestions.org cited Colossians 1:14 and Acts 10:43 to support the view that future sins are forgiven. The verses say:
“In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Col. 1:14)
“To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:43)
How exactly do these verses prove that future sins are forgiven? All they prove is that there is forgiveness in Christ Jesus. To use this verse to prove future sins are automatically pre-forgiven is just as silly as using Matthew 1:21 to prove limited atonement.
Anderson and Park offered no Scriptural proof of their assertion.
The three verses that the OSASers used to support their doctrine have one thing in common: they don’t even come close to proving that future sins are forgiven! One thing is clear, though: in order to maintain the doctrine that future sins and unconfessed sins have already been forgiven, one will have to read these ideas into Scripture.
There is no Scriptural warrant for the belief that future sins are already forgiven.