Is forgiveness really once for all?

I have been comparing the idea of Jesus’ forgiveness of  sins being sufficient for all time (a la Hebrews 10) and the insistence by many of continually confessing sin (a la 1 John 1:9).  In my cursory reading of 1 John it appears that such a confession is a mere agreement that one is guilty before rather than  a continual appropriation of forgiveness.  Forgiveness is a one time act accomplished solely by God (1 John 2:12).

My initial conclusion: confession of sin is a realization of one’s condition and God’s salvation.  God does the saving, confession is a natural result (not a prerequisite or ongoing requirement).  I am not sure if this is all a part of evangelicalism’s “Catholic hangover” or just a failure to fully trust in the grace alone, faith alone message of the gospel.

I wonder how my actions would change if I really lived in the guilt free, once-for-all forgiveness of Jesus?

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3 thoughts on “Is forgiveness really once for all?”

  1. Just read… “Nor did he enter heaven again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with the blood that is not his own. Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:25-26).

  2. I think that confession of sin has a purpose that is broader than forgiveness. It is a step in repentance, yes, but it is also a powerful way to neutralize temptation and the power of sin. Once you confess a secret temptation or sin, you destroy it’s power to isolate you. James encouraged the believers to confess their sins one to another and pray for one another, that they be healed.

    Confession is also a realignment with God. Imagine, someone committing a sin, openly, that he declares to believe isn’t a sin, or isn’t a big deal. Confession of that sin, puts him finally again6st that sin and with God.

    So, I don’t know that we have to square away passages of forgiveness and confession because they aren’t always linked.

    Even Achan after he confessed to stealing treasure from Jericho, was stoned and burned together with his family and possessions.

  3. Thanks for the comment, Stephen. I think the origin of the word “confess” is more closely related to your comment. “Confession” literally is “agreeing with God.” I think more and more that the Bible has confession and forgiveness as unrelated in the life of the believer.

    I’m not sure I understand the Achan reference.

    FYI, my initial impulse for writing this post was the gospel + confession heresy I have heard of and on most of my life. It was often implied that unless I “kept a short account” or something that I was “out of fellowship with God.” I believe this sort of idea undermines the “once-for-all” nature of the death of Christ.

    Thanks for stopping by!

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