All of us desire to be forgiven our sins, even the lost have a consciousness of sin. Though we may have worked and tried to deny it, rationalize it, forget it, make up for it, or otherwise ignore it; at some point our conscience within convicts that evil behavior is wrong. All people instinctively understand that murder is wrong except those who have seared their conscience and become so deluded and dark that they are in total denial. Also, there are many who have rationalized one way or another that their sins aren’t sins or that God forgives everyone, e.g. how could a loving God send anyone to Hell. It goes without saying that rejecting God’s existence makes sin a mute issue.
The Bible teaches that everyone who believes on Yeshua, Messiah, will be forgiven and given eternal life in heaven with Him. As we mature beyond this basic point of salvation by grace, we learn that repentance, contrition, confession, and submission are elements associated with forgiveness. These are not works that earn or achieve forgiveness, but our fallen human nature can trap us into believing it is so. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1: 9-10). Repentance is simply turning away from the sinful behavior we practice. Repentance demonstrates earnestness, acknowledgment, and sincerity of desire to be forgiven.
“Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, ‘Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.’ At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, ‘This fellow is blaspheming!’ Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, ‘Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, Your sins are forgiven, or to say, Get up and walk? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.’ So he said to the paralyzed man, ‘Get up, take your mat and go home.’ ” (Matt. 9: 2-6). In this event we see that Yeshua knew people’s hearts and addressed them directly, before anything was said. God is the one who forgives sin, but Yeshua is God in human form, so He has all authority in heaven and on earth. In this healing He was demonstrating that He is the Messiah.
He tells us, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matt. 6: 4-15). This grant of authority to all believers is a very powerful spiritual reality. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16).
One illusion of a paradox is that believers are forgiven once and for all and yet continue to seek forgiveness. This is not a true contradiction because time is a subset of eternity. In our temporal existence in time, we sin, repent, and are forgiven on a regular basis, due to our fallen human nature – our brokenness. However, when time ends and we enter into our eternal existence as Children of God, we will see that all our sins and transgressions were forgiven once and for all by Yeshua’s death on the cross.
I think this scripture is a perfect illustration of what we see: “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (Philippians 2: 12-13). If one quotes the first part alone, it will sound as though we are “to work out our salvation”, (by our own strength or efforts), but the full scripture reveals that it is “God who works in you”, (God is saving us by His Strength and power). This is the Sovereignty of God, which is wonderful and reassuring, an invisible reality that stands firm throughout eternity exceeding even the created universe. The Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth and this is fundamental and spiritual. However, its eternal infinite nature is above and beyond our physical existence and that gives the illusion of contradiction in the nature.
Today, Believers can understand that we are totally forgiven once and for all, and when we do fall, we confess our weakness and broken, rebellious, fallen nature, get back up, turn around and continue following Yeshua, our Lord and Savior. To all believers He speaks this word, “Take Heart, son. Your sins are forgiven”.