Previously I have written about one of the great challenges in my life; the overcoming of an embedded theology that had taught me a partial form of grace. In my early twenties, God began to mold my perception on grace to fall more in line with His Word, and so today I am going to write more about that.
I have heard it said multiple times from a variety of pastors and spiritual leaders (most regularly in pentecostal/charismatic churches) that even after a person receives initial forgiveness from sin, the grace of God will only continue to flow over sins that are confessed before Him. This idea caused me much distress in my teen years. I would immediately confess any time I got angry with someone, cursed, or did something I thought might possibly be sinful. This constant anxiety over sin took attention away from the one who died for these sins and brought it back onto my own faults and inadequacy. I was even afraid to die unexpectedly because I thought that there be unknown sin in my life that wasn’t forgiven. Friends, I am here to tell you that when you believe upon the sacrifice of Jesus, admit your sinful status before God, and accept His forgiveness, ALL your sins, past, present, and future are brought under the waterfall of grace!
“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
Now I understand that those who believe each new sin needs forgiveness anew have a fundamental misunderstanding of the fullness of the grace of God. They look at our new covenant with Jesus as a modern way to enact the old covenant. You see, in order to receive forgiveness, Jews had to bring a spotless sacrifice yearly to atone for unintended sins of the previous year. The sacrifice of our messiah on the cross is so much more effective that not only does it stop the need for yearly sacrifices, but it even atones for all our future sins! All throughout Paul’s writings we see these themes of justification, imputed righteousness, and salvation by grace through faith. These all gifted to us by God: placed over us as a beautiful, undeserved, garment.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
For who is the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation? Is it for everyone who keeps the law of Moses? Is it for everyone who confesses all their sins? Is it for everyone who fasts and prays lengthy prayers? No, it is for all who believe! (Romans 1:16) Under the new covenant of grace, we are justified not by our ability to keep the law but by our faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ!
In the past, whenever I have made this claim I have consistently been met with the same response. Among the learned, I am met with the accusation that I am an antinomian. I am not. Among the more humble I am simply asked the question, “So you’re telling me that it doesn’t matter when we sin?” Both have the same concern at their core, that because our forgiveness is a gift that sin cannot outweigh, sin then becomes a non-issue. Usually my response is, “By no means!” to refer them back to Paul who dealt with the same exact question:
“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? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Romans 6:1-4
I firmly believe that the reason sin still has so much power over believers is because they misunderstand the work done on the cross. Because of Jesus’s sacrifice, you can be relieved from the guilt and condemnation that comes with sin! All of your sins have been taken care of, not just the ones you confessed in the past. Now this undeserved grace and gift of righteousness becomes the foundation and power to live rightly before God. Let me use an example to help me better communicate the fullness of this statement.
When we were young, my brother and I had our fair share of quarrels. Often when our arguments reached the breaking point we would levy the same insults at each other. I would scream, “You’re stupid!” and he would return with, “Yea well you have no friends!” It’s comical looking back at it, because neither of these things were true; but the more we said them to each other, the more we believed them. They began to effect the way we saw ourselves and our behavior started to mold to fit this new self-image.
When believers begin to understand that before God they stand righteous, the more their behavior will mold to fit this new identity! When faced with sin, the most effective way to overcome it is not by believing that you can do it on your own, or telling yourself, “I know I shouldn’t be doing this,” but by reminding yourself that you have been made the righteousness of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
And so today I am here to remind you of this very thing. You who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and believe that by his death on the cross and resurrection from the grave your sins have been washed away, you have been made the righteousness of God. All of your sins, past, present, and future have been atoned for! Relax in the peace of His forgiveness and know that before God you are without fault. Let this seep into your soul and mold your behavior into that which is glorifying to God!
If there is anyone reading this thinking to themselves, “I too want to be made right before God,” I want you to know that God is presenting to you that offer even now. You, because of your sins, have condemned your soul to death, but God, not wishing that any should perish, sent His son to die in your place. Jesus suffered a horrific death on a cross, though He had committed no wrong, in order that He might bear the punishment for your sin. God saw this payment as sufficient, and so Jesus was resurrected from death and now lives forevermore, interceding on your behalf. There is no other way given to humans by which they can be saved. All you need to do to receive the gift of forgiveness is believe and confess Jesus as savior of your soul. If you have more questions or would like further explanation, feel free to contact me. God bless.