Christians know they aren’t immune to sin. But what happens when we commit the same sins over and over? Isn’t this disappointing to God? Will He become angry and, eventually, refuse to forgive us? How long does it take before that happens?
As believers in Christ, we need to be clear concerning sin, forgiveness, and God’s heart toward us. When we don’t know or we forget what the Bible says concerning these things, or when we trust our feelings more than God’s Word, we begin to experience worry, anxiety, doubt, and even despair. In this post, let’s look at what God’s Word says specifically to Christians about when we sin.
We can’t lose our salvation
From the start, we need to be crystal clear that once we’re saved, we can never lose that salvation. God’s Word assures us of this fact:
“And I give to them eternal life, and they shall by no means perish forever, and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:28)
“I know that whatever God does, it will be forever.” (Ecclesiastes 3:14)
“For the gracious gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29)
When we received Christ as our Savior, we received His eternal life as an irrevocable gift; it can’t be taken back. We were regenerated and are now God’s children, born of God with God’s life. This can never be undone or changed.
When Christians sin
When we’re newly saved, we may have the expectation that we would no longer sin. We soon find, however, this isn’t the case. And when we sin, we feel guilty and find it hard to come to the Lord in prayer. But God made a powerful promise to us in 1 John 1:9:
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
This verse was written to Christians, not to unbelievers. As believers, we have fellowship with God, but when we sin, our fellowship with God is interrupted and our enjoyment of Him is hindered. This is because God, who is righteous and holy, cannot tolerate sin, and our own conscience tells us we have a problem with God.
But this verse gives us a powerful promise to remedy the situation. We simply need to confess our sin to God. When we do, God forgives us and cleanses us of that sin. The blood of Jesus is as effective to cleanse us from our sins now as it was to cleanse us from our sins when we first believed.
What about repeated sin?
But what if we commit the same sins over and over again? Each time we feel ashamed, ask for forgiveness from the Lord, and vow that we’ll do better next time. But we don’t. Instead, the cycle repeats, and we become more and more discouraged.
Because we feel so bad, we may assume God must also feel ashamed of us, and perhaps He’ll eventually be so disappointed in us that He won’t forgive us. This, however, can never be the case.
This note from the New Testament Recovery Version on the verse above explains why:
“God is faithful in His word (v. 10) and righteous in the blood of Jesus His Son (v. 7). His word is the word of the truth of His gospel (Eph. 1:13), which tells us that He will forgive us our sins because of Christ (Acts 10:43); and the blood of Christ has fulfilled His righteous requirements that He might forgive us our sins (Matt. 26:28). If we confess our sins, He, according to His word and based on the redemption through the blood of Jesus, forgives us because He must be faithful in His word and righteous in the blood of Jesus; otherwise, He would be unfaithful and unrighteous. Our confession is needed for His forgiveness. Such forgiveness of God, which is for the restoration of our fellowship with Him, is conditional; it depends on our confession.”
God doesn’t forgive us based on His feelings; He forgives us based on His faithfulness and righteousness. Because God has spoken His promise and because Christ has paid the debt for our sins—all our sins—God must forgive us. Even if God were disappointed in us, as long as we confess our sins to Him, because He is faithful and righteous, He must forgive us.
God’s heart toward us
Despite what we may think or feel, however, God’s heart is always to forgive us. God wants to have constant fellowship with us. But He also knows we’re sinful and we fail. This is why Christ fulfilled all God’s righteous requirements by dying on the cross, shedding His blood both for the sins we committed before we were saved and the sins we commit after we’re saved. This is also why God gave us such a clear, wonderful promise in 1 John 1:9, telling us of the way of confession and forgiveness so our fellowship with Him can immediately be restored any time sin comes in to break it.
God doesn’t ask us to do better in order for Him to forgive us. He makes no stipulation in His promise to us besides this: “If you confess your sins.” If we confess, He forgives. It’s as simple as that. He doesn’t say, “If you promise to do better,” or “If you confess a sin you haven’t committed too many times before,” but simply “If you confess.” This is God’s heart toward us.
Simply confess and be cleansed
The Lord knows how thoroughly sin poisoned us in the fall, but He still wants to live in us and with us continually. We sin, but His hope and expectation is that as soon as we become aware of a sin, we would turn to Him and simply confess that failure to Him. This is how we allow Him to do what He really wants—to cleanse us again with His precious blood and restore our enjoyment of His presence.