Future Sins: Forgiven or Not?

August 20, 2011 at 4:45 PM 6 comments

I was reading an article the other day in which an individual made the statement that not only are the sins in our future not automatically forgiven (the ones we have not yet committed), but to hold to such a view is blasphemy (my paraphrase).  I was a bit dumbfounded because I have always understood that my sin – all of it – past, present, and future, was dealt with at the cross.

I have long understood that there are people who do not believe in unconditional eternal security, meaning they stand in opposition to the “once saved, always saved” doctrine.  I guess what I had not considered was the idea that I have future sins that God’s forgiveness does not cover until I get there.

God, because of who He is, sees the beginning from the end and the end from the beginning.  Because He is God, He is perfectly able and capable of seeing all of this at the same time, as difficult as that may be for us to comprehend.

In my life, I cannot see the end from the beginning, unless we are simply talking about a piece of my life that is already in the past.  Of course then it is clearly visible.  God goes way beyond this.  Not only does He see the beginning from the end of every person’s life, but He sees every decision I’ve ever made and sees what would have happened had I chosen another path or direction rather than the one I did choose.

In truth, God sees every aspect of my life from the very second I was born until I exhale my very last breath all at the same time because all of my life is always in His present tense.  If then we are talking about future sins that are allegedly not automatically forgiven (presumably until I get there and actually commit the sin), please consider that while there is a future for me, there is no future for God because He is always in the present.  Does this make sense to you?  If not, it’s likely because I have not explained it well enough.  Please bear with me.

I took some time to cruise the Internet searching this subject out and it is amazing how many times I came across people who believe that the Christian’s future sins are not automatically forgiven.  This belief is usually held by those who also do not believe in eternal security.  Of course, they would say they do believe in eternal security, but that they do not believe in unconditional eternal security.  The problem of course is that either “eternal” means just that, or it means something else, something that falls short of actually being eternal.  In that case, Jesus applied a different meaning from what we know as eternal.

So on one hand, there are those who believe that my future sins are not already forgiven, and I can conceivably lose my salvation, and on the other hand, there are those like myself who believe that every sin I have ever committed, or will ever commit were not only seen by Jesus, but taken into account as He died on the cross.  There is nothing in my life that is hidden from God and there are too many Scriptures in support of that truth.

Here’s the problem, as far as I see it.  If a person believes in the idea that my sins – all of them – were not automatically forgiven the day I received Jesus as Savior, what Christians have then is really conditional salvation.  It can’t be understood in any other way, at least the way I see their position.

This is not to say that people who believe that my future sins are not automatically forgiven believe that salvation can be lost easily.  It means that they believe that over time, if a Christian does not regularly confess (or repent of) sins they commit in their life, they will initially lose fellowship with God, and if they remain on that path, will finally lose salvation.  They will, in effect, become unborn again and will revert back to the time when they were not “saved.”  The Holy Spirit’s seal referenced by Paul means nothing in that case.

While they might argue that this is an oversimplification of their belief, this is really it in a nutshell.  Certainly, they claim they do believe in eternal salvation, but they would also have to admit that this eternal salvation in which they believe is really a form of conditional salvation.  In other words, as long as they continue to do the right things (in this case, repent of, confess sin, and ask for forgiveness), their salvation is secure.  Apart from this, they do not enjoy eternal salvation at all, in spite of their arguments to the contrary.  Some have stated that there is no way to actually know whether you have salvation until after you leave this life.

Admittedly, this is a very difficult subject because people are vehement about what they believe.  They draw the line in the sand and will fight to the death it seems over this particular doctrine.  Why shouldn’t they because the doctrine of eternal security of the believer is the basis of Christianity.  Either we have it and cannot add to it in any way, shape, or form or we only have it when we add to it through confession and repentance.

Before I go any further, let me say right now and without equivocation that I do not believe Christians should ever have a cavalier attitude with respect to sin.  I fully believe that my sin – whenever I am made aware of it – should be immediately and sincerely confessed to the Lord.  I also believe that whenever possible, reparations should be made if I have sinned against another person.  That may include something as simple as a heartfelt apology, or something else depending upon what I have done.  Sin should never be dealt with lightly and certainly never overlooked. But what we are talking about is whether or not the sins I will commit in (my) future are automatically forgiven by God.

If they are not, then the only sins that were forgiven when I received Jesus were the ones in my past (and present, if I had conceivably sinned while receiving Him as Savior and Lord) and those in my past that I have confessed since then.  Is this what the Scriptures teach?  Well, you and I both know that people on both sides of the aisle use Scripture to prove their position don’t they?  I can take Scripture and use it to assess and prove my point and someone on the other side of the fence can use the same Scripture to assess and prove their point.  How can we know for sure?  This is where a bit of fear and trepidation comes into play.  Just as I should never be cavalier about sin, I should never be cavalier about His Word and my interpretation or understanding of it.  I should always approach His Word with the utmost reverence.

Let’s see if I can’t sort my way through this subject.  Again, we are going to start with the idea that God is outside time.  He is not governed by time as I am.  He is not limited by time as I am.  To Him, my entire life is always in His present tense.  There is nothing in my life that He doesn’t see until it unfolds.  It is all laid bare at the same time.  That much we know.

Think about something.  If my future sins are not forgiven until I get there, then as soon as I commit a future sin, it is already in my past.  The argument then becomes, does God’s forgiveness extend to my future sins, or does His forgiveness extend only to my future sins when they become my past sins, or are none of my future sins forgiven (even after they’ve been committed) until I commit and confess them to Him?

As I stated, I believe that it is my responsibility to confess my sins as I realize them, but I obviously cannot realize that I have committed a “future” sin until it becomes a “past” sin.  If I fail to confess that future-turned-past sin, am I in danger of eventually losing my salvation?  That is really the key question as far as I can tell.

I am guessing that there are sins in my future.  I have not lived them yet and I don’t know what they are going to be, but I know that since I am not perfect because the sin nature still resides within me, I will likely commit future sins.  As I sit here composing this article, I am not aware of any past sins that need confession.  As far as I can tell, I am right with God.  I can think about past sins, the ones God says He does not remember, but I cannot go into the future and “borrow” sins by contemplating the sins I might/will commit.  If I do, then in effect, those sins are momentarily in the present, and then go into the past.  It is almost as if future sins are theoretical.  In theory, I will commit future sins, but as soon as I do, they become sins of my past, yet they are always in God’s present.  Again, this is not to minimize sin at all.  It is to attempt to put things in their proper perspective.

The big question here then is does the redemption I have through Jesus forgive all my sins, or does it only forgive sins in my present (a misnomer) and past?  That is the key question that needs to be answered, so let’s see what the Bible says.

Let’s first look at Colossians 2:13-15.  “And you, being dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”  I have emphasized part of it as you can see because it is important.

Paul is telling the Colossian believers (and all believers by default) that:

  1. I was dead because of my sin
  2. I have been made alive in Jesus
  3. All my sins have been forgiven
  4. God wiped out the written law that serves to identify our sins because it was completely fulfilled by Jesus (nailed it to the cross)

Paul is really comparing two things here.  He is comparing what I was to what I am now.  I was dead, but now I am alive in Christ.  Before I came to know Jesus, my sins were unforgiven, but now that I am in Christ, my sins are forgiven.  This certainly seems to say to me that all of my sins are forgiven.  That would include every sin in my life, whether they are sins of my past, or any future sins.  Once again, the responsibility of each believer is to confess known sin as soon as we realize we have sinned.  But Paul seems to be saying that God’s forgiveness covers all of my sin.

This next part is very important and it required a bit of word searching to discover meaning.  Notice Paul says “being dead.”  That word “being” as used by Paul is the participle of “to be,” which shows a continuous state of being.  In other words, Paul is saying that we were in a continuous state of death prior to receiving salvation.  You get that, right?  It makes sense.  Apart from Jesus, we are continually dead because our sin has made us that way and keeps us that way.

Paul then tells us that something far greater exists than our sin which has made us and keeps us dead.  He speaks of our being made alive.  That “something” is forgiveness.  In other words, and this is the really cool part, the phrase “he has made alive” is essentially one word in the Greek text. It is an aorist active indicative verb.  Yeah, I know, who cares, right?  Let’s understand though – regardless of what it’s called – that it means that Jesus did His work one time and that one time was enough to cover all sin as an ongoing aspect of my salvation.  You remember the words, “It is finished” that Jesus spoke from the cross?  What He meant was that He accomplished what was necessary, once for all, in order that our sins – all of them – would be forgiven when we receive Him as Savior and Lord.

Equally important is the use of the word “having,” by Paul.  These are aorist participles meaning that they are done deals.  They have been accomplished.  So when Paul says, “having forgiven you all trespasses,” he is saying that when we received Jesus and the salvation He and He alone offers, His forgiveness is applied to our lives, which means that “all trespasses” have been forgiven; every sin we will ever commit.

Understandably, this line of thinking can lead to a life of licentiousness if misunderstood and I have a sneaking suspicion that this is why some people don’t like it.  In effect, they believe that this leads to a life of sinning freely and even encouraging others to do so as the natural consequence of thinking that all of my sins; past, present, and future are forgiven.  However, I fully disagree.  It is not a natural consequence of thinking this way.  It is an unnatural consequence of thinking this way.

The people who say they are Christians and continue to live as if they are not, really can’t be authentic Christians, can they?  That lifestyle does not seem supportable by Scripture.  James speaks about it as does Paul and John in his short epistles.

Simply because some people seem to think that as a Christian, I am no longer condemned (Romans 8), therefore I can live any way I want to live is wrong, yet does not negate the truth of the doctrine of (unconditional) eternal security.  What it does do is prove that they have misunderstood the application of that truth to their lives.

A person who is authentically saved will not want to sin.  They will not think to themselves that they are saved and will go to heaven when they die, so they can live like the devil now.

Paul tells me that I am sealed with the Holy Spirit.  “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption,” (Ephesians 4:30).  He also tells me this interesting fact:  “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His,” (Romans 8:9).

I have read articles by folks who believe that while we are sealed, apparently, we are strong enough (through self-will) to actually break that seal.  They take passages like John 10:28 – “and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand” – and wind up adding to that by saying that while no one can snatch me out of His hand, I can exercise free will and leave.  I would strongly disagree, unless of course we believe that God will simply sit back and allow us to walk away.  In that case, what is the purpose of being sealed?  Is my free will (such as it is) strong enough to break God’s seal?  I don’t think so…

We can also point to passages like the one in Isaiah 43:25, which states, “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.”  Of course, someone will come along and say, that’s true, but those are sins in the past.  But haven’t we established that my entire life is in God’s present.  How can there be a past or a future where God is concerned?  There is only a past and a future where we are concerned.

We could almost argue that the people who think that eternal security is conditional have a problem with pride.  Think about it.  They believe they can and are actually helping God maintain their salvation.

When they sin, they probably look and act as if they have eaten a bowl of lemons.  These people are often extremely rigid, yet they see their rigidity as holiness.  They believe when they stand before God, He will pat them on the head and tell them how marvelous they are and how tremendous they were in this life that they worked so hard to maintain their salvation. Those same people will look back pitifully at others who did not work as hard as they did to maintain their salvation and possibly even lost it, but were not aware that they did so until the afterlife.

Pride is a very tricky thing.  We condemn the beliefs of people in cults because we believe they are adding to Scriptures.  Our heart goes out to them personally because they believe in some measure, they must earn their salvation.  We don’t earn our salvation, yet what of the people who believe that they must work to maintain it and if they fail to maintain it, they could possibly lose it?  Isn’t that the same thing as earning it?  I believe it is…

1 John 1:7 tells us, “But if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

Ephesians 1:7 says, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.”

I’m aware that John’s verse uses the word “if” as though that makes it conditional.  In reality, John is saying as we walk in the Light, because we just learned from Ephesians 4:30 and Romans 8:9 that I am sealed by the Holy Spirit and I no longer live in the flesh.  If I no longer live in the flesh, while this does not mean I will never sin again, it means I obviously am in fellowship with God.  Why?  Because since I have received salvation from the Lord, “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses [me] from all sin.”  John says “all sin.”  God’s forgiveness is uniformly applied to the entirety of my life, once for all.

Those who repudiate unconditional eternal security use passages like 1 John 1:9, which says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  I have actually already covered this with respect to confessing sin.  Please note, John does not say that we have to ask for forgiveness.  In fact, Christians do not need to ask for forgiveness because it has already been applied.  John is telling us that we need to confess our sin, which is completely different.  Jesus taught people to pray the Lord’s Prayer in which they were to ask forgiveness (“forgive us our debts”), but that was before the cross!

Confession of sin is in respect to our fellowship with God.  When we sin, the Holy Spirit will let us know that we have done so and this feeling of guilt (or grieving the Spirit) prompts us to recognize our sin.  When we recognize it, we should immediately confess it.  This is in effect, fully agreeing with God that we have done something wrong.  “Yes, Lord, I agree completely with you.  I have sinned and I’m confessing that to you right now.  Thank you so much for your forgiveness and thank you that your Holy Spirit lives within me to keep me on the straight and narrow.  I praise you Lord for your faithfulness, even when I am not faithful.”

There is a growing segment within Christendom that believes that when we sin, we should beat ourselves up.  We should feel like scum.  We should treat ourselves as the worms we are, yet is this Scriptural?

What about the Prodigal Son?  He sinned terribly.  He demanded his inheritance (while his father was still alive!), went out and partied like there was no tomorrow, then sunk to the lowest level possible, by feeding pigs, not a good thing for a Jew.

Yet, what happened to the young man?  He came to his senses and realized that maybe his father might be willing to take him back if he went to him groveling and offered his services as a slave, not even a son.  So that’s what he did and when he saw his father, it is interesting to note that his father ran to his son and embraced him.

The young man had his speech ready to go.  He told his father he would come back as a slave, not a son.  His father would have none of it.  He gave him a robe, put a ring on his finger, sandals on his feet, and took the fattened calf and slaughtered it.  Why?  Because of the fact that the father had his son back!  His son, who was once dead because of his actions, was now alive.  The forgiveness that the father had extended to his son was always there!  Please note that the father was constantly looking for the son to return, which meant that he was always ready to pick up the relationship again. When the son tried to show his father how repentant he was and was willing to grovel to be accepted, his father dismissed it!  He had already forgiven the son.  The son needed simply to return.

The son was prepared to come back and work his butt off for his father and he was willing to be treated no better than a slave.  The father would not allow it and treated his son as his son.

Notice the older son though – and you can read about this in Luke 15:11-32 – who was hard at work in the field.  He was annoyed that his brother had returned.  After all, the younger son took off and he, the older son, continued working, slaving away for the father and never asked for anything.  Unfortunately, the older son did not even know his father because he misunderstood the father’s expectations.  The older son believed he had to work for his father’s affections and appreciation.  Meanwhile, the father simply wanted to have a real relationship with both of his sons.  While the younger son had learned the truth about his father, the older son never learned that truth and in essence was living as the slave that the younger son said he would be for the father.

I fully believe that God is extremely quick to apply His forgiveness to our life when we confess our sins to Him.  He wants to be and remain in fellowship with us and does not like it when we are out of fellowship with Him.  We should not take that lightly or use it as a reason to sin!

The reality for me seems to be that eternal security is just that: eternal.  It also appears to be unconditional.  There are no strings attached either to receive it or keep it.

It’s funny, but I read where people liken the doctrine of eternal security to Roman Catholic indulgences.  In reality, it’s the other way around.  Those who believe they are in danger of losing their salvation are the ones who are constantly having to “look over their shoulder” as it were, always having to maintain their salvation by their own works.  If they do not continue to work to maintain their salvation, they are in danger of losing it.  Isn’t this what Roman Catholicism can be interpreted as teaching?  Indulgences are merely another way of maintaining salvation that allow the penitent to spend less time in purgatory, which is by the way, another form of “payment” to maintain salvation.

I doubt seriously that this article is the final word on the subject (and it shouldn’t be).  Not a chance.  Hopefully though, I have given you some food for thought.  If you disagree with me, that’s fine.  Take it to the Lord in prayer.  There is no point in arguing with me about it to try to convince yourself that you are right.

Thanks for reading this and may the Lord bless you in your relationship with Him by opening your eyes to the tremendous riches we have in Jesus.  Riches that are beyond compare and will not be fully realized until we are with Him.

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Martial Law and the Coming World Leader Lordship Salvation: Right or Wrong?

6 Comments

  • 1. Linda Kniffel Feezor  |  May 19, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    I couldn”t find much information on this topic to defend it so thank you.

  • 2. baptdeacon  |  August 20, 2011 at 5:52 PM

    Unconditional eternal security – Amen!

    • 3. Brad  |  August 21, 2011 at 3:13 PM

      Thanks for your work on eternal security. The problem with modern Christianity is there is a lack of logic. You demonstrate logic in your article! To deny unconditional eternal security is to logically believe that somehow, someway, effort on my part will be the deciding factor…it’s works pure and simple. Sola fide means sola fide!

      • 4. modres  |  August 21, 2011 at 5:15 PM

        That seems to be the main point, as far as I can see, Brad. Thanks for emphasizing it for us. I agree, it really is that simple.

  • 5. Nelson Swiger Jr.  |  August 20, 2011 at 5:30 PM

    Thanks, really enjoyed this. I want to take this another step and get your input. Maybe a follow up article.

    I have had many of debate with those that seem to believe in eternal security, but believe that you can at some point reject your salvation and then you are no longer under the blood. I believe the Bible teaches that if someone rejects their salvation that they were never saved in the first place.

    I really would like your take on this. Thanks!

    • 6. modres  |  August 20, 2011 at 11:35 PM

      Hi Nelson, I agree with you and I wrote a book on this very topic called, “The Anti-Supernatural Bias of Ex-Christians.” It’s pretty lengthy but I arrive at the same conclusion you do; those who SAY they were Christians, but end up walking away from Christianity for one reason or another were NEVER authentic Christians at all. They would disagree, but since many of those folks wind up becoming atheists, it’s pretty difficult to believe that they once believed in the God they said they worshiped. While they may have firmly BELIEVED they worshiped God, the fact that they now believe He does not exists tells the true story. I have also found that most individuals who wind up walking away from Christianity have a very poor understanding of exactly what it means to be an authentic Christian in the first place.


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