Is There No Forgiveness For Intentional Sin?

Question:  Hebrews 10:26 says that if we sin willfully knowing better there is no more sacrifice for our sins.
Well I have been taught that if you keep sinning over again knowing you’re going to do it, like premeditated sinning I guess you could call it, that’s what the scripture is talking about.  Others say that its talking about rejecting Christ as savior after knowing the truth.   So which is it?

Answer:  Let me let you decide.  Here is the full passage:

Hebrews 10:26, If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?

Does it seem clear to you that the deliberate sinning being talked about here is equivalent to having “trampled the Son of God underfoot”?  And if you view the letter as a whole it is written to a church with many Jewish believers who are considering returning to Judaism.  Context clearly answers your question.

But the other question here is one of choosing to deliberately keep sinning.  How does that affect you?  I think the answer is it hardens your heart and your conscience to sin.  It makes it harder and harder to really come to a place of repentance.  You are damaging your soul and certainly hurting the heart of God.  A true believer cannot lose his or her salvation.  But God will certainly, out of love for you, discipline you until you come to a place of righteousness (Hebrews 12:4-11).  That is not an enviable place to be.

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Why Didn’t Jesus Have to Suffer the Way Unbelievers Will?

Question:  Why was it such a difficult thing for Jesus to die on the cross and pay for our sins? I know that he took the full force of God’s wrath for our sin, but what did that do to Jesus? I know Jesus went through hell, but it was only temporary. All of us die, some very horrible deaths. And then some of us receive payment for our sins forevermore to be separated from God. This is terrible to say, but honestly it seems like a small price to pay considering humans and demons continue paying for their sin forever. I know Jesus was innocent of any sins. How can I see this from a more realistic and Godly viewpoint?

Answer:   I think you’re asking why Jesus didn’t have to pay more of a price equal to the punishment humans receive for rebelling against God.  He only died physically (and though torturous it was fairly limited compared to how some have been made to suffer) and then he was only separated from God for a short time and then entered Paradise upon death.  In other words, Jesus’ penalty seems way less than what others have exacted from them by God.

I have just had some of my own assumptions challenged in this area.  Are we correct in assuming that Jesus’ death has to be equal to the suffering of death that anyone else experiences to adequately pay the price for their sin?  Is the price for sin related to how horribly we die or just that we die physically?  It would seem it could only be related to the fact that we die, not the extent of our suffering.

And was Jesus’ statement that God had forsaken him a statement of the Father’s actually  abandoning him spiritually (so that he experienced a taste of hell)?  What is the actual penalty of rebellion against God?  It might only be physical death and that physical death for the unbeliever leads to eternal separation from God as a consequence, not so much as a penalty.

I don’t know yet how to answer each of those questions I raised, but I think it is important to recognize that Jesus was the only human being who ever lived a completely righteous life in the power of the Holy Spirit, and the value of his life is of infinite value and capable of paying for every human being who believes.  The fact that he would choose to die in our place when he did not deserve to die at all lends even greater weight to his sacrifice.

So we don’t have to see some kind of one-to-one correspondence between how Jesus died and how everyone else dies.  It is more a matter of what God accepts.  God values Jesus’ death as equal to what we would have had to pay corporately.  He feels it is a just payment in our place.  We may not fully understand how that is so, but we know His balance scales are always honestly weighted.  He didn’t give himself an easy way out.

Will God forgive us when we break our promise not to sin?

Question:  Hey! I have a question I have been  wanting to know for awhile now and I was wondering if you could answer it?  Okay, so does God still love you and forgive you even if you have made a promise to stop committing a certain sin but then you break that promise? Will he still love and forgive you after you’ve broken that promise and you still keep making the same mistakes?

Answer:  I suppose we could ask ourselves if we would still love our child after he or she promises over and over to stop doing something wrong.  And even if we would answer yes, we would have to recognize that God’s love for us is even greater than a parent’s love for his child.  I like the passage in Psalm 103:13,14, which says, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”

It is Jesus who taught us that we should love our enemies (Matthew 5:44) in order to have as perfect a love as the Father has (verse 48).  And Paul tells us that when we were still God’s enemies, still sinners, God proved His love for us by letting Jesus die for us (Romans 5:8).  And Jesus taught Peter that if someone sins against him seventy-seven times he must forgive that person.  So it is impossible that God would not do as well or better than what He instructs us to do.  In fact, Romans 8 makes it perfectly clear that for the one who has trusted in Jesus for salvation there is no condemnation (8:1) and that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love (8:37-39).

We are perfectly safe in God’s love.  But because He loves us so much and because we love Him in return, we want to experience obedience to Him as a token of our love.  And we want to trust Him that the commands He has given us are for our own protection and welfare.  So when we recognize that our own promises to do better fail it might be time to try some additional aids to obedience.  For example, it may be that a trusted counselor could help you see a pattern to your disobedience and help you break that pattern.  Or it might be helpful to have someone to whom you are accountable and who will pray for you and encourage you toward obedience.  Or it might be useful to memorize some Scriptures that pertain to the particular disobedience you are struggling with.  Or all of the above. 

God longs for us to have freedom in our conscience before Him.  That is why Jesus came (Hebrews 9:14; 10:22).  That is why we can come to His throne boldly whenever we have need and find grace (Hebrews 4:16).

Getting Over Life-Controlling Issues

Question:  How do I put God in front of life controlling issues or sin patterns I’ve had for awhile?

Answer:  Be accountable to another believer or believers who will love you, pray for you and challenge you to right living.  Admit to God and to another believer that you are powerless to overcome your life-controlling issue on your own.

Memorize scriptures that will re-orient your thinking about wrong patterns of living.

Ask God for strength to obey when you feel the urge to disobey Him and then connect with your accountability team.

Spend time with a trusted spiritual director who can help you experience God’s healing for past wounds that may fuel the sinful pattern.  Make an appointment to meet with a spiritual advisor who can direct your transformation process.

Do not expect overnight deliverance from the issue, but pray for it and keep praying as needed for your life to develop a new pattern of holiness.

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What does God do about our unconfessed sins?

Rembrandt – “The Return of the Prodigal Son

Image via Wikipedia

Question: What does God do with the sins that you have not confessed and repented of in the event of your untimely death? I know 1John 1:9 says that if we confess, but what if you don’t, or have committed sins out of ignorance or unintentional?

Answer: All our sins have been paid for and are forgiven (even the ones we haven’t committed yet). If even one sin were not atoned for by Christ’s death we would still have to pay for it ourselves in an eternity of separation from God. But praise His name they are all covered. The confession and forgiveness that John is talking about is the restoration of relationship in a family way. When I sin I don’t get thrown out of God’s family. God remains my loving Father and my place in His heart is secure. But just as in a human family when we hurt each other, there needs to be reconciliation through acknowledging our transgression against the other and getting forgiveness expressed. In the same way we need to acknowledge what we have done to hurt our relationship with the Father and hear His forgiveness, but our eternal relationship is never in danger. Unconfessed sins will continue to prevent more intimacy with God. Sins done in ignorance or unintentionally will be brought to our attention if God feels we need to deal with them.

Randall Johnson

What is the unpardonable sin?

James Tissot's John and the Pharisees

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Question: : What is the “unforgivable sin” and “the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit”?

Answer: When Jesus heals a certain demonized man who is both blind and mute, the Pharisees say he had authority over the demons because he cast them out by the prince of demons (Matthew 12:22-37). In other words, they accuse him of being in league with Satan and using Satan’s power to cast out demons as a way of tricking people into believing in him. Jesus argues that Satan would thus be dividing his own kingdom against itself and this strategy would lead to his destruction. He claims instead that his power has come from the Spirit of God.

But because the Pharisees have attributed the Spirit’s power working through him to Satan instead, they have blasphemed (spoken evil against) the Holy Spirit. Every indicator in the miracles that Jesus performed pointed to the fact that it was the Holy Spirit and not Satan who was behind Jesus’ miracles. The Pharisees were responsible as leaders of Israel to evaluate any contenders to messiahship. But if they had not had a personal agenda of retaining their own power and influence, they could instead have acknowledged that Jesus’ compassion, the sheer number of miracles, the good results coming from them of people giving God glory, and their changed lives proved that God was behind Jesus’ ministry.

Instead they hardened their hearts against the truth and attributed to Satan what only the Holy Spirit could have done. Consequently, Jesus said their sin would not be forgiven in this age or the age to come, that is, ever. The unforgivable or unpardonable sin is refusing to see the plain truth in front of you of the Holy Spirit’s power and attestation that Jesus is the Messiah. Anyone who is blessed to see the truth this plainly but hardens his or her heart to it and refuses to submit to the truth cannot be forgiven.

If someone you think might have committed the unpardonable sin does demonstrate repentance and faith, you know they did not commit the unpardonable sin, or else they would not be able to have repentance and faith. If someone wants Jesus in his or her life, they can have him. The fact they want him shows they did not commit the unpardonable sin.

Randall Johnson

Is guilt the same as condemnation?

"The Last Judgment." Niche Sculpture...

Image by Cornell University Library via Flickr

Question: Romans 8:1-2 says there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. My question is, if the guilt you feel when you sin, which leads you to repent, is not condemnation and not from God then what is the difference between guilt and condemnation? And what then is Judgment day?

Answer: Condemnation is an objective judgment from God resulting in some penalty being measured out against you for your sin. It could be some illness, death, loss of income and the ultimate condemnation is hell. For those who are in Christ Jesus, who have believed in him for life and forgiveness, the penalty we deserve from God he took for us and we no longer have to pay it. God now never responds to us in condemnation, but views us as righteous in his sight because of what Jesus did for us. He may discipline us, a response of love and favor to help someone become what they’re supposed to be. Discipline is not punishment. It is a desire to instruct and reform. Punishment is only about getting justice, what you or I deserve. Discipline is all about growth in Christlikeness.

Punishment from God is always for objective guilt, that is, real failure to obey Him.  Our objective guilt has been paid for by Jesus.  However, we also feel subjective guilt.  The guilt we feel when we sin is our conscience telling us that what we have done is wrong and an offense against our relationship to the Lord. It is a gift from God to help us move in the right direction rather than keep running away from him and what is best for us. If you feel, in your guilt, that you need to be punished for what you did, you have failed to grasp what Christ has done for you – taken your punishment for you completely. When you feel guilt you should acknowledge to God what you did wrong and ask His help to do better. It should never result in your feeling hopeless, even if this is a repeat of what you have done before. God is eager to mold you into the image of his son, Jesus (Romans 8:29) and he will not cease working toward this while we are alive.

When Jesus comes back we will be made perfect in body and soul and never have to deal with our sinfulness and waywardness again. Those who do not know the Lord will experience Jesus’ return as a day of judgment where they must answer for their sins and their unwillingness to receive Jesus’ forgiveness. They will have to pay for their sins on their own by eternal separation from God.

Randall Johnson