Does Jesus Conditionally Forgive Sins??

March 12, 2011 — 3 Comments

There are many places in the red letters where Jesus appears to conditionally forgive sins.  If you break certain rules your sins are not forgiven. The most obvious of these are sins against the Holy Spirit. I must admit that I don’t really understand that condition as much as I would like. But that is not the only place where Jesus appears to withhold forgiveness. There are many others. Several of them have to do with corrupting children. He in no uncertain terms says that if you cause a child to sin, faith or no faith,  you will not see the kingdom of God.

Withholding forgiveness is something that goes very contrary to many evangelical churches who latch totally onto Paul’s words in Ephesians to almost the exclusion of even the words of Jesus.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast.

Did Paul understand this differently than Jesus? If that is not the case then why did Jesus say your sins are not forgiven in certain circumstances therefore requiring works? If there is only faith required without any corresponding actions then not forgiving sin seems meaningless.

Maybe we need to consult a third voice in the matter and that is James, the brother of Jesus.  James obviously was around Jesus most of his life and unlike Paul was there during Jesus’ entire three year ministry. In his Epistle James basically said the faith without works is a dead faith and therefore worthless.  Enough said…. I am one to take Jesus at his word.

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3 responses to Does Jesus Conditionally Forgive Sins??

  1. 

    Paul understood this as sanctification and justification.

  2. 

    Well, I’m guessing that pre-Damascus Saul was probably guilty of leading some children away from the faith in his zeal…he was, after all, an on-fire Pharisee persecuting the church. I think it’s nigh unto certain that the old Saul blasphemed the Holy Spirit in his zeal for the wrongness of Jesus’ followers before Jesus grabbed him and made him one of them. I am pretty sure it is safe to say Paul was forgiven, and not only on his own witness.

    Don’t forget (and we’ve discussed this before on your blog, I believe) that the New Testament uses different words for common screwups and deliberate rebellion, even though our English Bibles usually translate both words as “sin.” Perhaps the issue is that screwups don’t require itemized confession and repentance to be forgiven (just an active desire & commitment to follow); whereas open rebellion–such as blaspheming the Holy Spirit–does require a very deliberate (and rare) about-face.

    I’m speculating here, of course…

  3. 

    Thanks for the comments Dan.

    Yeah, I think you are right the old Saul did a lot of things Jesus preached against but his about-face as you call it ameliorated prior acts. Maybe the saying “never say never” applies here. Some sins, even against the spirit are forgiven under the right circumstances. That doesn’t make them any less serious but never say never.

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