Christians never need to ask God for forgiveness because they already received forgiveness for all of their sins (past, present and future) the moment they became saved. Jesus doesn’t pass out atonement for sins in small increments that we must earn through continuous confession. And it’s a good thing, too, for if we had to keep purchasing atonement through confessing, we’d be in real trouble. You can’t confess your sins adequately unless you can recognize them and one of the major effects of sin is that it blinds us from seeing full extent of our rebellion. For God to demand that we confess each and every sin would be the same as my asking a blind man to describe the colors of a painting on my home wall. Both tasks are humanly impossible.
God never requires that we come to Him with a comprehensive list of all of our shortcomings. He only says we must acknowledge that we’ve fallen short of His standards and deserve eternal damnation. We come in desperation to Jesus, having no idea just how bad the problem is, and cry out for Him to somehow make things right between us and God for eternity. He instantly responds with a promise that ALL of our sins have been atoned for by His Blood and that our souls are now back in right relationship with the Father—eternally. At the same time, the Holy Spirit enters us and seals us as the children of God. For the Christian, there is no fear of the Spirit moving out. There is no dread that Jesus did a patchy job on the cross, leaving some of our sins unatoned for—at least there shouldn’t be. But once he knows he’s lost us forever, Satan does everything in his power to keep us from realizing just how secure we are with God. Getting us to doubt the security of our salvation through lies about forgiveness is a key way he attacks us.
For those of you who understand your salvation is permanent, Satan must choose his approach carefully. Maybe when you first got saved he could stress you out with lies about how God might not have listened to your pleas, but by now you’ve grown too strong for such games. You understand that you are a child of God and nothing can change that. It’s time for Satan to switch to Plan B. If he can’t get you to doubt that you have a relationship with God, he must try to convince you that relationship is messed up somehow. And it’s all your fault, of course. You didn’t apologize sincerely enough. Or, your apology is meaningless because you did the same thing again two minutes later. What a hypocrite you are. We all know that actions speak louder than words. God is hardly going to be impressed by your repentant tears when you keep offending Him over and over again. Of course He’s mad at you and by now He’s holding a grudge. You’d better keep begging for forgiveness and maybe you’ll manage to coax Him into accepting you again. Until you do, you’d better not think He’s going to listen to anything else you say.
Such is the reasoning game Satan plays with us, and it is very effective for we have such trouble trying to remember that God doesn’t operate like a human. He doesn’t play conditional love games. He doesn’t dangle the promise of eternal life before us and then yank it away again the moment we mess up. He doesn’t expect human beings to be able to fix a problem they can’t even understand. And His Son didn’t fail in His mission to atone for the sins of the entire human race.
One minute we say that Jesus atoned for all the sins of Moses who was dead long before the cross ever happened because God works outside of time. But the next minute we say that because we are born after the cross, we have to earn our forgiveness over time because only our pre-salvation sins have been forgiven. This is ridiculous. Who comes to God asking Him to only forgive their past sins, but to hold off on any future mercy until they confess something? If Moses, Abraham, and Noah were all completely atoned for by the cross, why do we only get a partial cleansing? This is foolish thinking which Satan has sold us on just to keep us anxious and stressed. Once we’re in, we’re in. God doesn’t keep marrying and divorcing us depending on how thorough we are with our confession sessions. Let’s be clear: God doesn’t free us through grace only to throw us back under the Old Covenant system of works and legalism. The whole purpose of the cross was to resolve the question of forgiveness once and for all.
To God, it makes no sense that we keep asking Him to do something that He’s already done. When Christians ask God to forgive some sin in their lives, they are rejecting the truth about what Jesus accomplished on the cross. This naturally works in Satan’s favor. By continually telling ourselves we are not forgiven, we reject the peace, joy, comfort and freedom that Jesus specifically died to give us. Frustrating for Jesus, but quite thrilling for Satan. If you can’t rob a millionaire of his money, at least you can keep him from enjoying his wealth.
It’s critical that we learn to untangle the concepts of repentance and atonement. A Christian must repent of his sin, but that does NOT include asking for atonement which he already has. As Christians, we must break out of the habit of asking for forgiveness when we sin. Instead we must agree with God that we have sinned, and then THANK HIM for the forgiveness which He has ALREADY GIVEN US. This small change in language will have a hugely positive impact on your faith. Of course we agree with God that sin is wrong, and when we repent, we turn from that sin in our souls and fall back in step with the Holy Spirit’s leading. But we do not go back to square one and start praying for forgiveness all over again. A son does not keep begging his father to readopt him. He simply apologizes for going against his father’s wishes and all is well.
God sent His Son to die for us so that we would be freed from the enormous burden of fear that somehow, some way, we would be cast us out of His Presence again. When we submit to Jesus, He permanently binds us to His Father. No one can tear us away from Them, least of all us. To say that we can rebel our way out of salvation is nonsensical, for rebellion is just another sin and all sin is equal in God’s sight. When Jesus paid the penalty for our murderous thoughts and arrogant pride, He also paid the price for all of the willful rebellion we would express after salvation. There is no sin that He missed.
In order to obtain eternal salvation, God only requires that we sincerely submit to Him one time. After we have been adopted as His child, we could spend the rest of our lives rebelling against Him and He will still let us into Heaven. Many Christians reject this truth because they hate to see so many souls getting away with using God’s grace as a license for sin. But we do not get to decide for God how He wants to distribute His grace. There are other consequences for squandering our lives in rebellion, but being separated from God is NOT one of them, by God’s own decree. If He wants to offer us a deal that seems to grossly shaft Himself from our perspective, He gets to. We can get envious and complain like the prodigal’s older brother, but then we’d be as guilty as the slackers we’re so angry at, for trying to tell God how to behave is just another form of rebellion.
When we sin, we repent, and then we praise God that He has already forgiven us for our disobedience. If this idea still bothers you, ask the Spirit to help you gain a proper understanding of atonement. Realize that Satan will do anything he can to try and keep you from enjoying the security of your position with God—a security which cost Jesus everything to obtain on your behalf. We must give God more credibility than our own guilty feelings and Satan’s poisonous reasoning. There is nothing rational or logical about God giving us eternal atonement over one little prayer, yet He gives it to us all the same.