No Forgiveness Without Repentance

Q. I was reading of your answer to the woman whose husband left her for a very young girl. You said that if he is a believer, all his sins are forgiven him because of what Christ accomplished on the cross.

Technically, you are right. But I had hoped you would add that repentance is the key to forgiveness. If this man isn’t repentant, I do not believe he is forgiven. If all one has to do to be forgiven is to be a believer, then one can sin as much as one wants to, apparently.

For the record, I do not believe that deliberate sin that has no repentance behind it is forgiven. We must ask for forgiveness. Can you please clarify your answer in more detail? Do you agree with me, or am I wrong? If I’m wrong, would you please quote some scripture to show that repentance is not needed in a believer’s case when sin is committed? Thank you.

A. I agree that when a believer sins, he needs to admit it and confess to be forgiven. One purpose of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives is to convict us of our sins. When the ex-husband insisted that he didn’t do anything wrong he was ignoring the voice of the Holy Spirit. To be forgiven He needs to repent, which means to change his mind about his behavior and admit it was a sin. Then he has to confess and ask for forgiveness. If he does he’ll immediately receive it. (1 John 1:9) If he never admits that he sinned, he won’t feel the need to ask for forgiveness, and therefore won’t be forgiven.

But whether he does this or not, if he’s a believer he’ll still be saved because by his one sacrifice the Lord has made him perfect forever (Hebr. 10:12-14) just like He has for you and me. Every sin of our lives, past, present and future was handled at the cross, the penalty paid in full (Col. 2:13-14).

Failing to confess will likely make his life between now and the Rapture much more difficult than it would have been, and the earthly consequences of his behavior more severe, because until he confesses he’ll be out of fellowship with the Lord, unable to draw on His power to protect him from the enemy’s afflictions, and disqualified from any blessings he might have otherwise received.

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