Questions and Answers On Sin and Forgiveness

by David J. Stewart

       The word "heresy" in the Bible simply means "an opinion."  Many of the doctrines circulating in today's churches are merely opinions, not based upon the Word of God.  In John 5:39 Jesus commanded His disciples to... SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES!!!  It is dangerous to form one's opinions apart from the Bible.  People who express teachings not taught in the Scriptures are guilty of spreading heresy.  With this in mind, it is my aim to answer some common questions concerning sin and forgiveness using the Word of God.

What is the Unpardonable Sin?

The only unpardonable sin is rejecting Jesus Christ as one's personal Savior. Isaiah 1:18 teaches that God will forgive the vilest sinner who repents. It was Jesus in Matthew 18:22 Who taught that we ought to forgive 7 times 70. In other words, unlimited forgiveness for those who seek it. Do you think God is less forgiving? 1st John 1:9 teaches that God is faithful and just to forgive us. Although 1st John 1:9 is addressed to Christians, i.e., the Church; other Scriptures such as Romans 10:13 promise that WHOSOEVER calls (i.e., appeals) unto the Lord Jesus for forgiveness shall be saved.

John 3:16 is the most precious Scripture in the Bible, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Amen! There is no sin which God cannot, or will not forgive, except blaspheming the Spirit of God oncerning Jesus Christ. If you reject Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, then you are fallen from God's grace and there is no other way to Heaven. That's exactly what Galatians 5:4 means when the Bible speaks of being “fallen from grace.” Acts 4:10-12 proclaims that there is no other name by which we can be saved than JESUS CHRIST. Jesus proclaimed this truth Himself in John 14:6. Jesus is precious!

What Does 1st John 3:9 Mean?

1st John 3:9 states: "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." A changed life is the FRUIT of genuine repentance; not a part of the ROOT of saving-faith. If a person is genuinely saved, the Holy Spirit of God comes to live in that person's soul (Romans 8:9). The evidence of one's faith is a changed life for God (James 2:21). Please understand that self-righteous works have nothing to do with salvation (Titus 3:5). We are saved by faith, period (Romans 4:5-6). God takes care of everything else once we are saved, including working in our heart and teaching us the truth through His Word.

Jesus said in John 17:17 that we are sanctified by the Word of God, i.e., by the truth. A professed Christian who lives in unrepentant sin, with no conviction from the Holy Spirit of God, is likely not saved (Hebrews 12:6-8). There is no one as miserable as a believer who lives in sin, because God will tear their heart out with conviction. A person who doesn't have the Spirit of Christ is unsaved (Romans 8:9). That's what 1st John 3:9 means.

What Does 1st John 5:16 Mean... "a sin unto death"

1st John 5:16,17 states: ''If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death."  I have found at least one dozen explanations of this Scripture passage.  I prefer to allow the Bible to interpret Itself.  Romans 6:16 states: "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?"  So here we see that the opposite of the "sin unto death" is "obedience unto righteousness." 

Romans 8:6 states: "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace."  I do believe that John is speaking to Christian brethren in 1st John 5:16.  It is also clear to me that John is not talking about the unpardonable sin, i.e., rejecting Jesus Christ as one's Savior.  It is obvious that the subject at hand involves prayer, because 1st John 5:15 speaks of it.  I think the only logical conclusion is that the Apostle John is speaking about one who has become sick because of sin.  I think a comparison of 1st John 5:16,17 with James 5:14,15 clears up the matter...

"Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him."

This is what John is talking about.  The Bible plainly teaches that some illnesses are caused by one's own sins.  1st Corinthians 11:30 tells us that many believers were becoming sick and dying because of their abuse of the Lord's Supper... "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep."

Galatians 6:1,2 states:

"Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ."

1st John 5:13 tells us the sole purpose why the Epistle of 1st John was written...

"These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God."

One of the evidences of salvation is a changed life which causes a believer to love others with God's unconditional love, especially fellow Christians.  It is our duty to bear one another's burdens, i.e., when they are "overtaken in a fault" as Galatians 6:1 tells us.  So John is likewise advising us to pray for our fellow brethren in the Lord, if we have seen them sin and now they are ill, that God might forgive their sin and let them live.  However, upon examining 1st John 5:16 it is clear to me that this is a personal burden, only applicable to those who have "seen" a brother or sister sin.  I believe Galatians 6:1,2 also speaks of a personal burden, for the relationship of the fallen is close enough to the "spiritual" believer that he may "restore such an one."

Are There Greater Sins and Lesser Sins?

Yes. John 19:11, “Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.”

Howbeit, we are all guilty, dirty, rotten sinners in God's eyes. James 2:10, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” A hypocrite is someone who views another person as being a worse sinner than them self. We are all sinners in need of a Savior (Romans 3:23). Those who point fingers fail to realize that there are 3-fingers pointing back at them (on their own hand). Those people who are hateful toward other sinners, or are unwilling to forgive those who seek their forgiveness, fail to see their own wickedness in God's eyes. There is much self-righteousness in churches today.

Is it Possible for a Christian to Live in Gross Sin?

Yes. 1st Corinthians 5:5, “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” This man at the church at Corinth was living in open adultery in the church (1st Corinthians 5:1). The Apostle Paul has heard of the situation from another city and was disturbed over the lack of Biblical preaching against sin in the church. Paul advised the church to confront the man. Paul said if the man refused to repent, then to turn him over to Satan; but notice that Paul said the man's spirit would BE SAVED in the Day of the Lord.

The Bible is filled with examples of born-again believers who sinned horribly. Romans 4:5 plainly states... “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is COUNTED for righteousness.” Did you read that? ... his faith is COUNTED for righteousness!!! This means that a person can be saved and continue living in sin. Before you get upset, you'd better stop and realize that the Bible is filled with believers who lived in horrible sin. Noah was a drunkard. Samson was a whoremonger. David was an adulterer and murderer. Rahab was a prostitute. Isaiah had a dirty mouth. Jonah ran from God. Peter denied and cursed the name of Jesus. Ananias and Sapphira stole from the church. The church at Corinth had a serious problem with church members committing fornication, fighting against each other and even showing up drunk at the Lord's Supper.

Romans 3:31 clearly teaches that no one has God's permission to sin; but salvation is without works of self-righteousness, and a good thing, because we have NONE to offer God (Isaiah 64:6). Jesus paid it all.

“I've Done Some Horrible Things, Will God Forgive Me?”

Yes. Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

Is it Possible to Live for God Without Sinning?

No. Paul plainly teaches in Romans 7:14-25 that he struggled with sin on a regular basis. The unsaved world has no regard for God nor His Word, so there is no struggle. They are children of the Devil. The best Christian still struggles with sin, but with God's help is able to overcome temptation (1st Corinthians 10:13). Yet, everyone falters at times because we are sinful by nature. Those who deny being sinners are liars and call God a liar (1st John 1:8,10). Sin is NEVER permissible; but the fact of the matter is that everyone is a sinner. No one can live above sin. Those who claim to do so are self-righteous hypocrites (Luke 18:10-14).

As my pastor used to say... We can choose to do right at any given time; but we won't always make the right decision because we are sinners. Galatians 5:25 plainly distinguishes between living in the Spirit verses walking in the Spirit. “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Every born-again believer lives in the Holy Spirit of God, i.e., the Holy Spirit is the believer's spiritual life. Those who are saved ought to also walk in the Spirit of God in obedience to the Scriptures. Many believers don't walk in the Spirit, which is a sin. We are commanded to walk in the same Spirit by which we have our very spiritual life (Ephesians 2:2).

Proverb 26:16, “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.”

Does a Person Have to Forsake Their Sins to Be Saved?

No. Romans 4:5-8, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” God will not impute sin to the man who places his faith in Jesus as the Son of God, the Christ, to forgive his sins. By faith, God attributes Christ's righteousness to our record (2nd Corinthians 5:21). We are saved solely by HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS (Matthew 6:33). We have no self-righteousness to offer God (Isaiah 64:6). We are all guilty sinners in God's eyes (Romans 3:10-23).

Please read, Lordship Salvation—Satan's Biggest Lie.

When Sins are Confessed and Forgiven, are They Also Forgotten by God?

Yes. Psalm 103:11-12, “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us.” The Bible plainly teaches that God will not remember our sins. Hebrews 8:12 and 10:17, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” Amen, what a precious Savior!

Please understand that all sins must be accounted for on Judgment Day. For the saved, they will be judged at The Judgment Seat of Christ (2nd Corinthians 5:10-111). For the unsaved, they will be judged at The Great White Throne of Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15). Romans 14:12 teaches that all humanity will give account individually to God.

Should We Confess Our Sins to God Alone?

To God alone, for only Jesus has the nail-scared hands and feet. Modern perversions of the Scriptures have changed James 5:16 from “Confess your faults one to another” to “Confess your sins one to another.” The Bible never teaches to confess our sins to anyone except God. Instead, we are told to admit our faults. The New International Version [NIV] of the Bible corrupts this Scripture to cater to Catholics, who errantly teach that priests have the power to forgive sin. No they don't. Only God can forgive sin (Mark 2:7). The Confessional Booth is evil. Only God can forgive sin, so only God needs to know your sins.

Certainly we ought to be willing to apologize to those we wrong, and make restitution; however, God is the only One against Whom we can sin. All sin is against God alone, because sin is the breaking of God's Law. A person may wrong their neighbor, or commit a crime; but sin is against God alone, Who is the divine Law-giver. Psalm 51:4, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.” This Scripture was spoken by David, who killed Uriah after stealing his wife in adultery and impregnating her. What a horrible sin! King David committed a crime against Uriah and his family; but David's sins were against God alone, because God said, “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:13) and “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13). David broke God's Law. David later repented. 2nd Samuel 12:13, “And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.”

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