Why Christians Don’t ‘Need’ to Ask For Forgiveness
When Christians ask for forgiveness of sins to initiate forgiveness it really is no different than sacrificing bulls & goats for the removal of sin.
I’m not suggesting that confessing sins to God is bad. Heck, I do it all the time. It’s also not necessarily wrong to ask for forgiveness, but it is wrong if you ask because you don’t think you already have it. I’m all about confessing my sins to God, but not so I can be forgiven. I’m already forgiven, and confession is just part of the normal Christian life. But those that teach that it’s a requirement or a commandment to ‘ask for forgiveness’ in order to get forgiven or restore fellowship with God are way off base and it’s not biblical, and nor does it make anyone more godly and/or close to God.
It’s perfectly normal to hate sin. It’s perfectly normal to be disappointed when we struggle with sin. It’s perfectly normal avoid sin. But, it’s not perfectly normal to think believers must ‘ask for forgiveness’ over and over before we are forgiven of sins.
Ponder this. The book of Hebrews writes to Jewish people who heard about Jesus and His work on the cross for the propitiation of sins. But when those same Jewish people sinned many of them would keep running back to the temple to sacrifice animals for God’s forgiveness. It was their ‘just in case’ safety net. The reality is they didn’t actually believe in the finished work of Jesus on the cross and so they would go back to a human system that they trusted was the real solution.
So when believers, out of necessity, ‘ask God for forgiveness’ we are really saying we are not already forgiven and our human effort, or in this case, our words are what initiate our continued forgiveness. If you teach the theology that you must ‘ask for forgiveness’ to activate it, then how is it any different than the Hebrews running back to the temple for animal sacrifices? You clearly would be saying that hearing and believing with faith is not enough, and you need to sort of help God out and re-activate His forgiveness over and over.
The real question is where do we get our forgiveness from? The blood of Jesus, or words? Maybe you say we need both. 2,000 years ago the debate was are we forgiven by the blood of Christ or the temple sacrifices. Fast forward to today and the debate is ‘do we receive forgiveness of sins by the blood of Jesus or by our words’. If by our words, then what would happen if you didn’t confess a sin? This ‘confess and ask for forgiveness’ theology would suggest that hell would be our destination for unconfessed sin. So what happens if you forget to confess a sin? You can’t teach that confessing and asking for forgiveness are required for cleansing of sins and then turn around and say you won’t go the hell if you forget to confess a sin. Sorry, that’s double-minded thinking, and what you’re really doing is exactly what the religious leaders did 2,000 years ago did – and that’s adding rules around rules.
This confusion comes from a single verse in the bible – 1 John 1:9. Interestingly enough there are no other verses that teach a man-assisted system of believers asking God for forgiveness in order to activate His promise. If 1 John 1:9 meant what many people think it does then we have to ask why didn’t Paul, James or anyone else write about it? Wouldn’t that be a really big deal? Of course, it would. The truth is that 1 John 1:9 has been severely distorted by religion and has caused all kinds of man-made theologies to be built from it. Let look:
[1 John 1:9] If we CONFESS our sins, he is faithful and just and will FORGIVE us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Left alone that verse can be applied to Christians or unbelievers, but in context, he is addressing just the unbeliever, and verse 9 simply sharing the gospel and telling them if they confess their sins then God will forgive them. Note: verse 9 says God cleanses us from ALL unrighteousness, not just some. 1 John 1 is only 10 verses long, and the author starts off by trying to prove Jesus really was raised from the dead. He uses several sensory words like we ‘heard’ Him, ‘touched’ Him, ‘saw’ Him. In other words, he is saying “believe us, we are witnesses”. And to best understand verse 9 we merely need to look at verses 8 & 10.
Verse 8: “If we say that we have NO SIN, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is NOT in us.”
Who is the truth not in? The truth is Jesus, and He’s not in unbelievers. In fact, in the very next chapter speaking to believers he says ‘the truth abides in you’.
Then verse 9 offers the solution to unbelievers as it shares the gospel. And if anyone rejects verse 9, then verse 10 is the result.
Verse 10: If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is NOT in us.
Who says they have NOT sinned? Unbelievers. Who is His word not in? Unbelievers. 1 Cor 3:16 tells us the “Spirit of God lives in us”. So which is it? The fact is the truth is in believers, and 1 John 1:8,10 describes people without the truth in them.
There’s a huge difference is remorse/repentance and this idea of having to ask before we are forgiven. I’m sure some godly people ask because of their remorse, and not because they are trying to activate what they know they already have. But if anyone teaches that ‘asking’ is a prerequisite for a Christian receiving forgiveness then they truly are not teaching anything greater than animal sacrifices. The gospel message leaves no room for human effort or human boasting. It’s 100% free, by faith, and it doesn’t change after we get saved.
Yes, do repent from sins. Yes, do feel sorry about them and share your remorse with God. But more than anything know that when Jesus died on that cross it was everything the believer will ever need. Past, present, and future sins are completely forgiven. Big and small sins are remembered no more. Few and many sins were removed from the record books. Why? Because what the law could not do, God did!
[Romans 8:3] For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,
Author: Mike Cynar
Mike Cynar was raised in a church setting where he frequently noticed that many attendees would eventually drift away. The church labeled these individuals as ‘back sliders’ or ‘fake Christians’ just looking for ‘fire insurance’. However, Mike realized the issue was rarely with these individuals but instead with the church’s message itself. The teachings heavily emphasized behavior improvement and one’s flaws, with only a fleeting mention of one’s identity in Christ. It felt as though every sermon was tailored to the church of Corinth, who as we know or committing sins that even unbelievers don’t partake in. This trend was noticeable not just in one denomination, but across Baptist, Catholic, Pentecostal, and many other churches. Upon understanding the true essence of the gospel – that our righteousness comes from Jesus’ actions, not our own – Mike was inspired to liberate believers from lifeless sermons and reconnect them with the genuine teachings of Jesus. He believes that one can nurture a vibrant and growing bond with Jesus, unhindered by rigid religious practices. And thus, “Jesus Without Religion” was born.
It turns out that it is grace that leads to repentance. And if our heart is to get others to walk in the Spirit and live a godly life, then the best approach is not a beat down sermon, but rather to remind other that it is only when we understand our true identity in Christ that we will live it out. Yes, it’s true, if you’re convinced that God thinks you’re a dirty sinner, you will ultimately continue a lifestyle that mirrors that view, but if you truly believe that even on your worst day, you are called holy, sanctified, justified, and will be presented blameless in the end, well, it turns out this is the secret to living out on the outside what has been worked in to the inside.