So far I have seen, some kind of sacrifice, direct or indirect, is required to have forgiveness from sin. So, my question is - Are there examples of God forgiving our sins without any sacrifice?


Hebrews 9:22 answers this question definitely:

Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. (ESV)

The author of Hebrews goes on from this verse to say that the spiritual things needed to be purified with greater sacrifices than that of animals, and pointed to the sacrifice of Christ, which puts away all sins. See that argument developed in chapter ten.

  • "Under the law". But the question didn't specify the law. Nov 22 '15 at 0:27

I have found that the first part of Hebrews 10 addresses this question rather directly. We are all familiar with the Jewish sacrifices of the Old Testament and we understand that they were intended as a foreshadowing of the great and last sacrifice of the Savior. Here are the verses.

1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. 5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. 7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

So in this you are correct that there is no forgiveness from God without sacrifice, but that sacrifice is Jesus who is the Christ. After the which, He asks of us a much smaller sacrifice; that we endeavor to repent of our sins.

21 You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. Acts 8:21-22

And this often repeated verse,

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30"For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:29-30

I think most people read "My yoke is easy and my burden is light" and hear "My yoke and my burden are nonexistent". We still have a responsibility to participate in the process but the Savior has, by virtue of His sacrifice, put it within our reach. The personal sacrifice that he asks of us is,

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God. Psalm 51:17

That sounds much easier, that's a far lighter burden for me to carry than to be expected to carry the full weight of my sins. Such a weight would necessarily crush me and condemn me to hell.

So I would agree with you that sacrifice is required before forgiveness from God can be given. The required sacrifice was paid in full by Jesus giving Him the right to dole out forgiveness to any who are willing to pay the pittance that He asks for, a broken heart and a contrite spirit.


The word sacrifice must be addressed. I see here that the perceived definition of sacrifice is being seen as a “blood sacrifice”. That is a shallow realization of what sacrifice is in light of how sacrifices are portrayed in common use in the Old Testament. Many sacrifices had nothing to do with blood. If we understand that sacrifice is a self-offering of ones self for another, in this case God, then we have another variation of what sacrifice is and how it relates to the question.

I give you The Virgin Mary, who, having been fully graced before the visitation of Gabriel and the Over Shadowing of the Holy Spirit was freed of all sin prior to this action so as to be a perfect Ark in which to carry the Lord Jesus Christ.

The distinctions between imputed, imparted and infused Justification, seem to be issue with this post. Answers will very based on theologies.

We are in a love covenant “I desire mercy not sacrifice” Hosea 6:6, Psalm 51:16, Isaiah 1:11, Hebrews 10:1-18, 1 SAM 15:22, and others.

Christ sacrifice on the Cross-was the ultimate example of Love. It is to be received as a gift of Grace and reciprocated back through the obedience of faith.

The sacrifice on the Cross was our doing, not the will of God, but God showing us how much he loves us and to what end he will go for us to hear his call.


2 CHRONICLES 7:14 "and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land." No need for Blood? What say you?

  • 2
    The context of this declaration was at the time of the dedication of the temple. During this event, scripture tells us that they were "...sacrificing so many sheep and cattle that they could not be recorded or counted." The verse you cite was regarding praying towards "this place" - a temple whose daily functioning revolved around sacrifice. Seen in context, this verse does not constitute a valid example. Mar 24 '15 at 5:36

It is clear to me that God can, has, and will forgive sin without sacrifice. Here are a few verses from the Psalms and Prophets that make this point:

Ezekiel 18: 20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. 21 But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. 22 All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live.

27 Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.

For thus the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said, "In repentance and rest you will be saved, In quietness and trust is your strength." But you were not willing, – Isaiah 30:15

Psalm 40:6 .....'Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required'

Psalm 51:16 .....'For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering'

These are only a few passages: this message of Salvation is found throughout the words of God, before Jesus, and through Jesus as well. See also Hosea 3:4-5, 6:6, 14:2-3; Proverbs 16:6,17, 1 Kings 8:46-50, Micah 6, 1 Samuel 15:22, Ezekiel 33 (which parallels Ezekiel 18, a few verses of which are quoted above), and many others.

Also, Jesus, through the Spirit of God, forgave many of their sins before he died. Therefore his death couldn't be necessary for God to forgive sin. If his death was necessary before their sins could be forgiven, how could he have said (before his death could 'atone' for sin) so many times, "your sins are forgiven"? Not "will be forgiven". Jesus also teaches us how we are forgiven by the Father (through repentance - the same way it worked for King David, a man after God's own heart) and defines who God (the Father) can/will forgive in Matthew 6: 14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. No mention of his death, or blood atonement, or being an intermediary between the Father (God) and his children (us, who believe) here either...

Mark 12:28-34 - Here we have a scribe asking Jesus the greatest Commandment of all. Jesus answers him (I'm paraphrasing) 'the foremost is this: there is ONE God and no other' and then states the Greatest and Second Commandment, which sums up the 10 commandments (commandments of God), and on which hangs ALL the Law and Prophets. Here is the scribe's response in verses 32-33: The scribe said to Him, "Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that HE IS ONE, AND THERE IS NO ONE ELSE BESIDES HIM; AND TO LOVE HIM WITH ALL THE HEART AND WITH ALL THE UNDERSTANDING AND WITH ALL THE STRENGTH, AND TO LOVE ONE'S NEIGHBOR AS HIMSELF, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices." Jesus could have then responded and corrected the scribe, explaining how his death/blood would be the final offering/sacrifice, and how this atonement (the greatest gift) would be far greater than any man obeying any commandment. However, this is how Jesus actually responds in verse 34: When Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently [wisely], He said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God."

As to all who will claim there is no forgiveness without blood atonement (usually quoting Hebrews, Leviticus, and often Paul in his epistles as well: As for the Leviticus mention of only blood atoning for sin (Lev. 17:11), Numbers 15:27-31 clarifies that blood atonement (sacrifice) is only for UNINTENTIONAL sins! As for the book of Hebrews and those of Paul, where this blood doctrine is taught, those are books written of men. Jesus, and no one else, is the Way, Truth, and Life; the ONLY Way to the Father. The words he spoke were not his words, they were given him by the Father (God's Spoken Word). The words he spoke were TRUTH, and LIFE. He told us he was to be our only shepherd (pastor) and teacher. Therefore I believe we only need his words to be saved, and it is b/c of men's words thought to be God's words that we become confused about such things as these.

I will wrap up this long answer with some words of our Lord Jesus, as recorded in John 5:39-40:"You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and [yet] you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life."


  • 1
    Welcome to the site. We are glad you decided to participate. Please see What this site is about and How this site is different to help you learn how the site works. Also see the help center and take the tour to learn the site functions. I hope to see you post again soon.
    – fгedsbend
    Mar 22 '15 at 21:34
  • 2
    This answer is okay, but try to be less preachy in the future. The site strives to be academic, meaning, approaches the topic apathetically.
    – fгedsbend
    Mar 22 '15 at 21:35
  • Sorry about being preachy. Will avoid that in the future if I ever post again... I am not apathetic and was making no effort to come across as such, and so, didn't. Now I know.
    – killalie
    Mar 23 '15 at 0:10
  • It's not that we are apathetic to the topic. The academic study of religion is necessarily apathetic (reporting, describing, unbiased).
    – fгedsbend
    Mar 23 '15 at 1:25

There has always been Sacrifices for Sin. The most perfect sacrifice with out blemish was used through out the old testament. The New Testament didn't start until Jesus's death. The Gospels are at the end of the Old Testament. Hebrews 10 states that the Old Testament Sacrifice's were not perfect; that's the reason the worshipers had to keep coming back every year and do it over again. Jesus's sacrifice ended the repeating offerings for sins because His was the first sacrifice that God was pleased with. ( Propitiation). Today there is no need for a sacrifice for sins. Jesus died for ALL, ONCE, FOREVER. 1st. John 5 states that if you Have Jesus you have Life and if you do not have Jesus you do not have Life.


Numbers 21:8 records:

The LORD said to Moses, "Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live."

and it seemed to work. I see no implied sacrifice here.

(Verse 9 in the NIV clarifies that Moses MADE a BRONZE snake. So there was no death.)

  • I suppose the snake just stayed there on its own free will and accord? Or... do you think that it was impaled on the pole? Mar 23 '15 at 16:00
  • 1
    @TheFreemason It was "made" (cf "make a snake"), thus not living, and therefore didn't have a free will. Mar 23 '15 at 16:21
  • I may be wrong. I have asked here I have always understood it to mean "take a snake and put it on a pole" (obviously) Mar 23 '15 at 19:25
  • "I see no implied sacrifice here." and yet you see implied forgiveness based on these instructions as opposed to the explicit forgiveness granted at the time through other means: This event occurred after (and during) the institution of the Mosaic covenant which specifically provided forgiveness via atoning sacrifice. Mar 24 '15 at 5:25

It would appear from the gospel stories that God can and does forgive without sacrifice.

Rhoads, Dewey and Michie say in Mark as Story, page 113, Mark's Gospel portrays Jesus already pardoning sin during his life and authorising others to do the same. His death is not needed to make forgiveness possible, so Mark does not portray Jesus' death as a sacrifice for sin. The crucifixion as atonement for sins comes in later traditions.

Partial transcript from page 113 of Mark as Story

The meaning of Jesus' crucifixion

The significance of-Jesus'death became a central concern of later Christian theology. The theological significance of the death is not, however, Mark's primary concern. Although the Gospel does suggest some meanings for Jesus' death, as we shall see below, what is central for Mark is that Jesus was executed and raised.

. . .

Therefore the modern reader needs to be cautious not to read into Mark theological meanings that later came to be associated with Jesus'death. To begin with, Mark does not portray Jesus'death as a sacrifice for sin. Mark portrays Jesus already pardoning sin during his life and authorizing others to do the same. His death is not needed to make forgiveness possible.

[my emphasis]

  • 2
    Is this a quote? If you have the direct quote that would be preferable. Mar 23 '15 at 16:22
  • 2
    "Mark does not portray Jesus' death as a sacrifice for sin" - That's a forced interpretation - cf. Mark 10:45 - "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many". The gospels (let alone OT prophecy) indicate that Christ had foreknowledge of his impending sacrifice, hence to argue that he "does forgive without sacrifice" is tendentious. Mar 24 '15 at 5:19
  • 1
    @MattGutting I looked at Amazon, but its extract does not have this page, so I linked the Amazon cover page and then scanned in from my book, the page I was quoting and include this as an appendix to my answer. I hope that helps. Mar 24 '15 at 6:53
  • @bruisedreed Rhoads, Dewey and Michie are acknowledged for their expertise, and Mark as Story has gone to three editions over a period of 30 years, so although we can hold other opinions, theirs is also worth hearing. Rhoads is professor emeritus of New Testament at Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago; Dewey is Harvey Guthrie Jr. Professor Emerita of Biblical Studies & fmr Academic Dean at Episcopal Divinity School; Michie is professor emeritus of English at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Mar 24 '15 at 7:01

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.