I’ve had so many conversations in the past month about Christians that struggle with religious doctrine and choosing spirituality over organized religion. It also made me reflect on Christians’ relationship with the sacrifice Jesus made and what it means for us. Are we always forgiven no matter the sin? The answer is very complicated.
Are you always forgiven, no matter the sin? Partially yes and partially no. God forgives us for our transgressions but there are so many caveats for this statement including definitions, future actions, intentions, and more. How does sin affect our relationship with Christ? What is a sin? How does repentance change things? Are we already forgiven? If we are forgiven, can we continually sin over and over, asking for forgiveness and things don’t matter? What’s the point of it all?
God’s love is infinite and eternal. In the midst of that love, He has offered us grace and mercy. Grace is the continual protection, acceptance, and undeserved love we receive daily. Mercy is God’s willingness to continue to show us favor without condemnation for our actions. Among God’s grace and mercy, we were gifted with free will. Whether our actions displease the Father or not, we are all allowed to make our own choices in life.
Sin is any action that goes against the two commandments in the bible that Jesus referred to in Mark, Matthew, and Luke:
“The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:29-31
Adultery, Murder, Greed, Pride, and all of the other sin’s in the Bible can be extrapolated from these two in some way, shape, and form. Some may be connected to the rituals from other religions/cultures of the time, for our own health and safety, and others to protect and love each other. These sins crowd our minds and put barriers between us and God.
However, we are born into sin. We are destined to sin because of human nature, society, and influence from the enemy. Without going too deeply, we will sin and God’s love for us gives us chances upon chances to do and be better.
Reading the Bible is important to develop an understanding of God. We do not have the expectation of perfection from God. We are made in God’s image and Jesus was the manifestation of how we should live our lives. Are we expected to be Jesus? No. Whether you believe Jesus lived exactly as the Bible depicts or is a collection literary works, the message is clear: Only one human is a reflection of perfection and that person would have to be the literal offspring of God himself. We are not held to that expectation, but we have an opportunity to be that close.
Jesus’ sacrifice is a message that sin is not able to separate us from God’s love anymore. We have been given power, love, and opportunities to grow in God’s kingdom and experience who He is. Sin makes it harder to connect to God because we are focused on everything else but him. We are given the ability to repent and be forgiven as a way to strengthen our connection and remove the wall between us and God.
Repentance and, in turn, forgiveness is offered to at any time to take. However, that doesn’t mean we can do whatever we like, apologize, and go right back to the same habits. God shows over and over again that He may forgive, but that doesn’t absolve us from the consequences for our actions. We have freewill and can choose whatever actions we decide but, that doesn’t mean you won’t have to deal with the consequences of your actions.
Choices have outcomes. Outcomes have effects. You may have reaped immediate benefits of short-term positives from sin. Sex feels good. You may cheat on your wife or husband. You may even not get caught. You believe you’ve escaped the fallout and vowed to never do it again. But, the impact may not be as apparent as you think. The thoughts of continuing the tryst plague your thoughts while at work. The notion of your significant other doing similar may bother you for months. Or your communication fails, tempers flair from an unrelated event, and your relationship may still fall apart.
You might steal from a friend or treat someone poorly. You might constantly destroy a neighbor’s things or lie consistently to your boss. None of these actions may have an immediate effect, but long-term, there is no telling what will happen to you. Karma is real and I believe it goes cross religious boundaries. I also believe that God may forgive you for your sin but the more you build up that wall without changing your habits, the less He protects you from. Thieves get robbed. Murders can be killed. Even ministers can lose their anointing because of foul actions.
One of my favorite stories from the New Testament so far has been Jesus and the Adulteress. This is the passage that “Ye without sin, cast the first stone.” Everyone leaves instead of stoning the woman and the woman remains standing near Jesus. Jesus asks does anyone condemn you? She says no, and Jesus replies “to the adulteress who was brought to him, ‘Neither will I condemn you; go and sin no more.'”
The important part is Jesus not condemning her for whatever transgressions she had, but also Him telling her to sin no more. We are loved by Christ and His Father. When we do wrong, he wants us to change our lives and not go back to the same life. We often are saved by God through circumstances or direct intervention, but we can’t take that forgiveness for granted.
Be grateful for His protection and walk a different path not to test His Love. That’s the truth about God’s forgiveness, it will always be there but that doesn’t protect you from the effects of your actions. Israel still reached the promise land but some never got to see it because of their actions. That is what consequences are, it doesn’t change the Lord’s promises but it does affect our outcomes.
Turn Your Brightness Up!