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Catholics say that our future sins are not forgiven (unless we confess them in the future) and say that John 20:23 (and maybe other verses which I can't remember), uses the past, i.e. "forgiven", so ask how future sins can be forgiven. I was wondering what information there is on the verb "forgiven" here, and in other verses.

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This question came from our site for professors, theologians, and those interested in exegetical analysis of biblical texts.

    
When Jesus died and rose again all of our sins were in the future. We cannot argue about which denomination is accurately reading the Scriptures. Only one precept seems to permeate all Denominations and that being that God's forgiveness is based on confession of sin and repentance from it. –  Bye Apr 20 at 18:09

7 Answers 7

This question presumes salvation is dependent on the act of confession of sins instead of the act of belief in Jesus death and resurrection being adequate for salvation. I'm not sure that is biblical.

"If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." — Romans 10:9

That's not to say Christians don't need to confess their sins, repent, and change their ways — this is a fruit if salvation. Just that the bible doesn't teach that if we accidentally forget to, or don't have time to, confess a particular sin, that our salvation is affected.

Furthermore while the priests of the old covenant had to continually do an act that would atone for the sins of Israel, Jesus, the priest of the new covenant, is a priest of a covenant where Jesus' act did it once and for all:

"Unlike those other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices every day. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when he offered himself as the sacrifice for the people's sins." — Hebrews 7:27

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This isn't as complicated as it seems. We probably all know Romans 6:23, which tells us that the wages of sin is death. Paul wrote this in 2 Corinthians 5:14:

one died for all, and therefore all died.

We, having sinned, deserve death. Jesus, who did not sin, died in our place. Therefore, Paul explained, "all died". There is no longer any penalty for sin, since the full penalty was paid once and for all on the cross.

In other words: every sin has already been completely forgiven. Past, present, future...confessed and unconfessed...whether anybody wants such forgiveness or not, the price has been paid.

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Its not just Catholics that reject this doctrine, but the overwhelming majority of Protestants as well. A small yet loud minority within Protestantism do indeed believe that as soon as Jesus died all "our" (for them, "our" doesn't necessarily mean "our" as we think of it) sins were forgiven, or rather, all the sins of the elect were forgiven. These are the so-called Hyper Calvinists who believe that Jesus only died for the elect and that as soon as he died the elect were fully saved, everything remaining being nothing but mere formality. They deny that salvation is a process that takes place in time at all. But scripturally, this idea simply doesn't work. Ask yourself what sense any of the following passages can make if all our future sins are forgiven at once:

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

"Cleanses," i.e. progressive present, keeps on cleansing, not "were cleansed."

1 John 1:7 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Notice how confessing comes before being forgiven. Of course, in the Protestant view (aside from maybe a few of the "high church" Protestant churches) this confession is understood as being made to God himself in prayer rather to a priest in a confessional.

And last, but certainly not least, the Lord's Prayer:

Matthew 6:9 Pray like this: .... Matt 6:12 Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.

Why should we pray for forgiveness if all our sins were forgiven in one shot? You see, the doctrine that all our future sins are forgiven at once makes Jesus a liar and the Lord's Prayer into pious nonsense.

(All my quotations of scripture above are from the World English Bible, WEB, a public domain updating of the ASV into modern English.)

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I'm pretty sure you're not representing hyper-Calvinism correctly. –  Jacob Apr 22 at 6:28
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This is not properly represented and it is not a small minority of Protestants that believe in Romans 5. Many large groups of Protestants believe when the bible teaches "all" sins they believe that means all ( ALL, adv. Wholly; completely; entirely; av1611.com/kjbp/kjv-dictionary/all.html) And many understand Matt 6:9 as a prayer under the old covenant b4 the cross .And they also understand that 1john 1:7 teaches confession and not the asking of forgiveness as we are cleansed of ALL unrighteousness. There is no condemnation for those in Christ. U might of sighted ur allegations as well. –  rob Apr 27 at 0:23
    
Just because you happen to be a part of that small yet ridiculously vocal minority doesn't mean it isn't a minority. And just because the squeaky wheel is louder and gets the grease doesn't mean its the body of the car. –  david brainerd Apr 27 at 19:18
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And citing KJV Only cult websites as proof you aren't in the minority is counterproductive, I'd say. –  david brainerd Apr 27 at 19:19

Do you need forgiven BEFORE you sin? How can a future sin be a punishable sin if you haven't committed it yet? Jesus does predict specific sins for specific people before they happen (Peter and Judas), however he still urges Peter to...

Matthew 26:41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.

And reconciliation for Peter's sin is not offered until after it is committed.(in John 21 when Jesus reaffirms Peter's love for Him three times-one for each denial Luke 22).So it would seem that God does not treat us as guilty until the sin is actually committed.

I think the better understanding of having future sins forgiven is that God's forgiveness will always be there, like the father of the prodigal son. We don't have to worry about it running out on us in the future.

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All forgiveness of sin acts as an atonement. Now an atonement is a satisfactorily making of amends for a wrong one has done, by paying money to or otherwise helping those who have been wronged for a wrong or injury. An example of this would be breaking a window by accident while playing baseball. Replacing the cost of the window and giving a few extra dollars to cover the cost of the interruption of time is satisfactory. Notice how the word covering was used "To cover the cost" so an atonement acts as a covering.

Now consider that you are the one that had the baseball break your window. After the window is replaced, and you have received a little extra money for your time. What is your natural response? It's a done deal, and it is most likely not going to come up again, but when the kids are outside playing ball, your eye might be taking a look now and again, or you might even call out and ask that the game be moved to another location. Because you remember what has happened, and you don't want it to happen again.

Now consider that the payment is made, but another ball breaks a window. This time you send your servant to the kids to tell them that they really have to move the game to another location. Now the kids do come up with the money again. So OK it's all cool now.

So let us run through this routine of the window breaking and the boys paying for the damage and imagine this routine happening over and over again. Eventually you get to the point that the money that the boys pay no longer satisfies the annoyance.

God had a similar response to this:

Isaiah 1:11 NKJV

To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?” Says the Lord. "I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, Or of lambs or goats.

Now I want you to think of your own personal experience in matters of "making amends for wrongs that you have done." You will find that with enough thought into the matter that all situations that you have personal errors you have had to make amends for fall into two categories. Situations where the error was forgiven, and situations where the error had consequences, and a value was due for recompense.

If I think back to times such as these that where general to me where I had to pay no amends, and I was just forgiven, usually fell to very simple matters such as:

Bumping into someone by accident. So I turn and say "I'm sorry" I get a "No Problem" and all is well. Let's turn the degree of the error up just a little bit. Lets say that I bump into someone and because of this, they spill coffee on the floor, none got on their clothes, but because responsibility and work need performed to "correct the error" and "restore the error to the state before the error occurred" Forgiveness of this matter is not so easy to obtain. If I did this said "I'm Sorry" and assumed that I was forgiven, and started to walk away. Chances are I would hear a correction "Are you going to clean this up?"

Now in an ideal world where all Christians where forgiving, If you were to bump into a Christian and the coffee would spill. Then the Christian would be self sacrificing and would clean up the mess you would receive forgiveness. Yet if you bumped into a non-believer then the law would apply for they would expect you to make amends for a wrong you did. A clear example of this the worldly example of going to the judge with a lawsuit. Where the offended party declares the acceptable sacrifice that is needed to atone for the sin. So it has been written:

John 20:23 NKJV

If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.

For the decision falls to the one that is offended. Therefore if you are a believer it is important that you do not offend a non-believer for when you do you are still under the law.

Matthew 5:25-26 NKJV

Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.

Then for situations where a sin occurs against a believer.

1 Corinthians 6:7 NKJV Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated?

For the three structures towards world peace are in play. The way of the law, when the offender pays the penalty. The way of forgiveness, when the offended pays the penalty. The way of generosity which is from both, when others pay.

So then it is an advantage for believers to separate away from non-believers, as it is suggested:

2 Corinthians 6:17 NKJV

Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.”

So to introduce you to the word repent. An example of this would be for those kids to stop playing baseball around the house that they always break the window. Thinking again to that example, if you where the one constantly having to replace that window. You would want that to stop occurring. Well this also has been commanded for believers.

Matthew 3:2 NKJV

and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

When he says at hand this is not a matter of after death, it is a peace that is offered right now. Yet for "ALL SINS" this is the prayer:

John 17:9

“I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.

So from your own experience and from the actual examples of forgiveness and forgiveness that you can see with your own eyes even on the news channel. You can see who receives mercy, and who does not.

So you might be wondering why does the Death of Jesus pay for all sins? Well it is stated here:

1 John 2:2 NKJV

And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

I love learning how two opposing viewpoints work out in the pure view of truth, so here goes.

We have some insight into this conflict of concepts given to use by God through Paul.

Romans 8:3-4 NKJV

For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

So I want to restate this into a simplified statement: Everyone in the world has the ability to walk by the Spirit, and not by the flesh. All actions performed in the spirit are forgiven, and all actions performed in the flesh are condemned.

So to the questioner I say this, If you continually walk by the spirit for all your future, all of your future sins will be forgiven. Now much in the new testament can be said about the flesh versus the spirit. Yet another polar example has been given to help us understand this polar opposite approach.

1 John 1:5 NKJV

This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.

Now much can be said about the Light and the Darkness as well. So again let us compose all the evaluating concepts into a greater statement of understanding. Everyone in the world has the ability to walk by the Spirit giving light, and not by the dark deeds of the flesh. All actions performed in the spirit and light are forgiven, and all actions performed in the darkness of flesh are condemned.

So let us get a raise of hands from the audience. Who does not ever want to be condemned?

Well hopefully everyone metaphorically raised their hand, because receiving condemnation is not fun in my opinion (even though I now try to also be content with receiving condemnation).

So structurally here are the two lines of thought. If I receive condemnation or not. If I do receive condemnation do I pay the penalty or not.

How do I not receive condemnation? The short easy answer: Love your neighbor as yourself. The detailed answer for the over thinkers like I am. Here goes:

Matthew 5:7 NKJV

Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.

This was not good enough of an explanation for me I wanted "No Condemnation at all". Yep God is Good Check it Out.

Proverbs 28:13 NKJV

He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.

Wait a second! This was given to us in Proverbs! Now I want to show you this awesome comparison in the old testament between Pride and Humility.

Proverbs 16:18 NKJV

Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.

Micah 6:8 NKJV

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?

Yep and Jesus was in agreement check it out:

Matthew 11:29 NKJV

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

So the Big Guy Upstairs wants us to be humble. How does that humility tie into to this light - spirit - darkness - flesh concept?

Well we get another awesome explanation from Jesus through Paul here:

2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

So remember how in Proverbs it was telling us that if one covered his sin he would not prosper. Here we see instruction to boast of weakness. So here is logic: When I boast of my weakness and forsake my weakness the power of Christ rests on me and I obtain mercy.

A personal example that happened to me today. I was a few minutes late to a meeting that I needed to go to. I walked in and declared to the entire room that I was sorry and that I was bad at managing my time so I received mercy. Thanks God.

Now another way to understand this freedom from condemnation is to understand how the flesh spirit polarization leads to the light dark polarization. For we have already seen how the pride humility polarization leads into the light darkness polarization.

So the flesh leads in three directions when in "Denial": Anger, Depression, and Anxiety. So the Spirit of Humility and Faith in God is on one side as the Light, and the Prideful Fleshly reaction in "The Decision to Fix the Threatening Behavior" is on the other side as darkness.

So I want to point out the specified teaching that Jesus gave to help us understand when we are in the light.

Matthew 6:22 NKJV

The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light.

Now where it says "your eye is good" the full meaning to the Greek word is to be "unfolded". So when you see, if your vision is not folded, then you are full of light.

In plain English: When you are thinking of something that does not pertain to the current situation you are in the dark. Yet if you "Sell all of your thoughts and give all your attention to the one that is talking to you." then your thoughts are unfolded and you can clearly see what is going on.

Also as backup to this ideology during the sermon on the mount Jesus gave us a Parable about a Sower. This shows us the "Four Directions of Thoughts" that your mind is in when listening to the "Speaker". Not hearing what is being told to you (birds taking away the word), not caring about what you are hearing, busy thinking about other things, and then the "Good Ground" where the mind is clear and able to hear all that is said.

Fulfilling what he said.

Mark 4:12 NKJV

so that ‘Seeing they may see and not perceive, And hearing they may hear and not understand; Lest they should turn, And their sins be forgiven them.’”

So to summarize: See, Hear, and be forgiven; All by Faith, Humility, and Forgiveness.

So does the penalty need paid? The penalty falls into four classes. No Penalty - Offender Pays - Offended Pays - Gift Pays.

The Level of requirement is based on belief structures and necessity for amends. For example: If I broke Great Grandmas Old Violin. Nobody might pay, it might just stay broke. Yet forgiveness can occur.

The requirement of the Sacrament of Confession by the Catholics The natural person wants to boast to achieve status even though it tears them down. To learn to boast of weakness, a safe environment is needed so the one developing can build the confidence to start their public usage of humiliating statements.

Again: "Anxiety" is a sign of the darkness and its pattern includes guilt. Therefore:

1 John 3:3 NKJV

And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

And it takes time.

Philippians 3:12 NKJV

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.

So Good Luck on your dealings, and a word of advice, "No one plants trees in the fire, and a fire can not burn with no wood. If one is Anxious and you talk to them, they might return to faith, or they might become angry, for all thorns are thrown in the fire. People will dwell in the fires that they start, or in the peace that they prepare." Amen

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"... he who sinned shall bring ... fine flour as a sin offering ... no oil on it ... nor ... frankincense ... it is a sin offering ... bring it to the priest ... a memorial portion ... to the Lord ... It is a sin offering ... The priest shall make atonement for him ... The rest shall be the priest’s as a grain offering (Lev 5:11-13) ... speaking of Jesus ... "For He testifies: You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek." (Hebrews 7:17) Who is in us? To understand the Grain offering read (Leviticus 2 ) –  Only he is good. Apr 30 at 11:33

It is the blood and the redemptive work Christ completed on the cross that forgives sins. To add to that work something man -must- do to be forgiven is to simply make Christ's work unfinished. How can a work be finished, if I still have a function to perform in order to finish that work?

When you stand before God at the throne, you can be sure it's Christ and he alone claiming, "Father I already paid the price they owed." Not how many guilt and fear driven prayers one sends begging God for mercy. The bible says even the demons fear him and tremble.

Remember this:

"8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast." - Ephesians 2:8-9

There's a reason the Holy Spirit led the apostle Paul to write those words and many other phrases that deal with that it is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, according to the Bible alone, for the glory of God alone.

We do not earn forgiveness by asking for it, we were given forgiveness by grace while we were dead in trespasses and sins. I mean I'm pretty limited in my overall experiences with supernatural phenomenon but I've never seen a dead man ask for forgiveness...or anything for that matter. Check out Ephesians 2. It's all practically detailed there.

Are we to confess our sins, yes by all means talk to God about the things you do wrong. But do so knowing you are forgiven just as the Prodigal son was forgiven. That was an amazing depiction of our heavenly fathers relationship towards us. The reason I believe we are to confess sin is as the bibles says. "Confess your sins one to another that you may pray for healing." Meaning we confess to our heavenly father so that we can grow in our relationship with him, be given more abundantly in grace than we already have been, and that we may be given more insight into his mysteries and his will for our lives. We confess because were forgiven not to be forgiven. Because we know as his children his love for us will always out weigh his chastening.

The moment the Holy Spirit enters us. The moment of salvation all of our sin; past, present, and future was washed away. Otherwise Christ would have to come again, die again, and repeat that over and over through out time until every sin was washed away. Afterall, "The wages of sin is death." without sacrifice there can be no atonement.

"What can wash away my sin, Nothing but the blood of Jesus, What can make me whole again, Nothing but the blood of Jesus, O precious is the flow that makes me white as snow, No other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus."

I hope this helped. God Bless

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This is addressed by Paul in Hebrews 10. He says you must persevere even after you are saved to not sin on purpose. The question is, of course, how is one supposed to know what actions are sinful if the Law has been nailed to the cross? But that's a separate question, one which i would like to ask. Should I?

"26If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29How 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? 30For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”d and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”e 31It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

32Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. 33Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. 35So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

36You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37For,

“In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.”f 38And,

“But my righteousg one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.”h 39But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved."

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