“Come and let us reason together…”
See Isaiah 1:18
What does the Bible really have to say about “forgiving others,” “repentance,” and being “spit out of God’s mouth”? Here is a conversation I had on social media that I believe will help you understand all three subjects much better:
“Matt, are you saying after you give your life to Christ and your sins are forgiven and forgotten, when we stumble (and we will as long as we live in this human body), we don’t need to ask God for forgiveness?…Jesus’ example of prayer, specifically the one called, the Lord’s Prayer, teaches us to ask God to ‘forgive us our debts (trespasses) as we forgive our debtors their debts (those who trespass against us), and to pray this daily. Jesus says He is our intercessor who sits at the right hand of God. My relationship with Christ is based on wanting to please Him in the living of my life. What’s your opinion of those who harden their hearts and no longer care about pleasing Him? Where do they stand? Some theologians say ‘Well, they never knew Christ to begin with or they would feel convicted.’ Others say ‘They are in danger of being spewed out of His mouth on the day of judgement if they don’t recognize their sins and repent.’ What is your take on this?”
“Good morning. First off, we don’t need to ask God for forgiveness because we are forgiven once and for all time (see Hebrews 10:10). Further, asking for forgiveness has never forgiven anyone, only blood can forgive (see Hebrews 9:22). The words ‘ask for forgiveness’ are not in the New Testament. The Jews knew this, and that’s why Jesus’ bloodshed was so important. He was the final bloody sacrifice for sin! (See John 19:30, 1 Peter 3:18).
Should we ask God for forgiveness as Christians? No. Unbelievers? Yes–and one time only! And when they do ask, they don’t even have to ask, per se. All they must do is believe they need Jesus’ forgiveness and they get it! (See Galatians 3:2, Romans 10:17). If asking was required to be forgiven, then what about the people who don’t have tongues or voice boxes, nor hands to write? Will God not save them? Of course He will!
Being forgiven is all about our faith in God’s Son, not in anything our physical bodies do or don’t do (see John 6:63, Hebrews 11:6) Christians are already completely forgiven! So rather than constantly ask for forgiveness when we make mistakes, we should simply say sorry, enjoy the fact that Jesus’ blood has achieved our forgiveness, turn from the sin we are already forgiven for, and move along. God does not convict us of sin. Jesus was already convicted and killed. So instead, He lovingly counsels us away from sin. Convict means guilty. We’re not guilty of any sin because Jesus was already guilty for us! What do you think the Cross was for? Partial forgiveness? Nope! Jesus forgave all our sins and gave us a sinless, righteous spirit! (See John 5:24, Romans 8:1, 2 Corinthians 5:21).
Forgiveness with God is different than forgiveness with people. People need to hear, ‘I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?’ but God does not. Our relationship is much different. Just think about it, people aren’t dying a perfect bloody death to make sure they can forgive us. So asking God for forgiveness doesn’t make us any more forgiven, and not asking doesn’t make us any less forgiven. We are forgiven in full once because our old sinful spirits die and we are supernaturally resurrected as new perfect spirits who do not need forgiveness any longer while still in these temporary bodies (see Galatians 2:20, Romans 5:1, 6:6-7, Matthew 5:48, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Colossians 1:22).
As for your next question in regard to the Lord’s Prayer. This has been one of the most taken-out-of-context passages in the gospels. The true context is, this is a prayer of death! To get the frame of reference we must begin in verse five not in verse nine, where so many people like to begin. Why? Because Jesus is setting up His legalistic listeners for extreme failure! He’s giving them a standard for prayer in which they cannot reach! This is not a sweet passage, it’s an impossible passage!
Jesus knew the Pharisees loved to pray loud prayers in public in order to ‘appear’ more holy (see Matthew 6:5). So He told them to go into a closet to pray which would kill their ego. Obviously this is not meant for Christians because there is no law in prayer. We can pray anywhere, anytime. If you want to pray in a closet, go ahead, but you don’t have to. Praying in a closet doesn’t cause God to hear your prayers any better–no geographical location does. He hears you at all times, everywhere, because He is inside of you and will never go away.
Next, Jesus commands the legalists to stop repeating the same prayer over and over (see Matthew 6:7)–and what do we do? We constantly repeat the prayer He uses as an example of not to repeat! Ha! The irony of cherry-picking Scripture is hilarious! And then after the very prayer He says not to babble over and over–the so-called ‘Lord’s Prayer’ in verses 9-13–the most important part at the bottom, everybody leaves off and won’t repeat! Just look and you’ll see why!
‘For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.‘ (Matthew 6:14-15)
Do you see that little caveat there? ‘If we don’t, God won’t’? THIS IS LAW! MOSAIC LAW! Christians are dead to the Law and alive in Christ! (See Romans 7:4, Galatians 2:19) The Law is still in effect, but not for New Covenant believers! (See Hebrews 8:13, 1 Timothy 1:9).
Do you see that Jesus was trying to funnel the listeners into a much better way? A way of light yokes and easy burdens? (See Matthew 11:28-30). The way of Himself? (See John 14:6). The way of free forgiveness by grace through faith alone? Friend, this is not the Lord’s Prayer! That sub-title was put above this passage by the publisher who didn’t understand Jesus’ point, not by Matthew. If Matthew was to put a title above this passage I believe it would be, ‘How to Pray Like a Pharisee’ or ‘Prayer According to the Law.’
Children of God do not pray like this, nor is this how we forgive or get forgiven. God does not forgive us because we are excellent forgivers–imagine if that were true. Instead, we forgive because we’ve been forgiven for free. We forgive because forgiveness is an inherent part of who we are as holy saints.
On this side of the Cross, after the Law became obsolete, we are taught to forgive because we are already forgiven:
‘Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.’ (Ephesians 4:32)
‘Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.’ (Colossians 3:13)
Both times Paul says forgave–past tense.
Next, you asked my opinion on people hardening their hearts. To be blunt, God can decide to do anything He wants in order to achieve eternal purposes. Who are we as clay to question the Potter? However, I don’t believe God purposefully hardens anyone’s heart, that would remove free will. The verse in the Bible about God hardening someone’s heart, Pharaoh’s, in Exodus 9:12, has been used to paint God as a puppet master. He is not.
God gives us opportunities to not harden our hearts so that we can receive His Spirit into ours (see Hebrews 3:15). As for Pharaoh? First, this is Old Covenant, so Pharaoh didn’t have the choice to receive God’s Spirit into his own. He could have still become right with God by faith (see Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11), but God already knew what Pharaoh had planned. So when Moses wrote Exodus, he saw the King of Egypt as already impossible to sway–therefore, he wrote it down.
What most of us don’t understand is that God sees the end from the beginning. He is not bound by time like we are. He knows what will happen before it happens, just like we know what will happen if we record the Super Bowl and watch it the next day, already knowing the end result. Does us watching that recording cause the players to make different choices? No. It already happened and they freely made their own choices, but we are not bound by the time of that actual event on that recording. Same with us and God. He saw Pharaoh on His DVR and knew his heart was hard.
On to your next comment. You combined several Scriptures together: ‘they are in danger of being spewed out of His mouth on the day of judgement if they don’t recognize their sins and repent’. So part of this is found in Revelation 3:16:
‘Because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.’
First of all, this is not referring to God spitting Christians out of His mouth on the Day of Judgment. We are not in His mouth but in Him (see Colossians 3:3). And honestly, even if God did spit us out of His mouth, because of who He has made us to be, He would slurp us right back up. But He’s not spitting, slurping, spitting, slurping. This is silly and the preachers who teach this stuff need to quit it.
If we read Revelation 3 in context, it’s simple to understand the point John is making with such symbolism. The movie War Room has a great demonstration of this as Miss Clara hands Elizabeth a lukewarm cup of coffee–she doesn’t like it. Nobody likes to drink anything lukewarm. You either want a hot drink when it’s cold outside or a cold drink when it’s hot, both are satisfying and make changes to how we feel. But a lukewarm drink does nothing. Sometimes Christians can cool off a hot situation, and at other times we provide warmth for those who need to feel loved.
Let me tell you what this verse is not saying: Christians will be rejected by God for lukewarm religious activity. The Christian life is grace from start to finish! Grace is what motivates us into any righteous action! Jesus didn’t say He would stay with us until we stopped doing churchy stuff–He said He will never leave us! Even if we are faithless He remains faithful! The gospel is about His commitment to us–not ours to Him! Our commitment is a joke! We are terrible promise keepers just like the Jews were in the Old Testament! Only God can truly stand on His Word perfectly–we can’t! (See Matthew 28:20, 2 Timothy 2:13, 1 Thessalonians 5:24).
The New Covenant is an agreement between the Father and the Son–not us! It’s a promise between them and we are simply the beneficiaries who receive by faith! We don’t take it! We don’t name it and claim it! We don’t create it or sustain it! We simply accept it as the truth for our sin and instantly become reborn in our spirit! (See Hebrews 6:13-20, 8:13, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 10:9, John 1:12, 3:6-7).
THIS IS WHY THE GOSPEL LITERALLY MEANS GOOD NEWS!
As long as Jesus lives He is able to save us completely and He is not dying again (see Hebrews 7:25). His one-time bloody sacrifice was more than enough to pay for the sins of the entire timeline of humanity. We are fools to think that we, as created beings, can actually give God something He needs by something we do or don’t do. We are the ones who are in need, not God! (See Galatians 3:3, Acts 17:25).
In the next part of your comment you say, ‘on the day of judgement if they don’t recognize their sins and repent…’ First of all, once you die, it’s too late to repent. Second, no Christian will be judged guilty for any sin–Jesus has already judged us ‘Not guilty!’ Only unbelievers will be judged according to their sins:
‘For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.’ (John 3:17-18)
There is not a single verse in the Bible that says a Christian will be judged for their sins. Why isn’t there? Because Jesus was already judged. What is the payment for every sin, from gossip to murder? Death! (See Romans 6:23). What did Jesus do? He died! When He died, what happened to our sins–past, present, and future? He took them all away! (See John 1:29, 1 John 3:5). The Cross was a huge success!
As for repentance? Sadly, the modern legalistic churches have turned this word into a law—as if we can possibly keep track of every sin and then do something to repent. This is absurd and self-righteous to say the least. It centers our faith on us and what we do, rather than what Jesus has done to our supernatural identity. Repentance-righteousness confuses our who with our do, terribly.
To take this incorrect mindset ever further, Paul said, “Anything that is not of faith is sin” (see Romans 14:23). Therefore, fear is sin, sins of omission is sin–so on and so forth. Sin is not just getting drunk and cheating on your spouse. Sin is everything not done in faith–everything not done while walking out your true identity.
So how does a person make sure they’ve repented of everything not done in faith? How do we know we’ve repented correctly?…Exactly. We can’t know because this is not how things work with our Dad. The truth is, we go from grace to grace to grace to grace, while simply being ourselves as heaven-ready people. How easy is that?!
We don’t repent of sinning to be saved, we repent of not believing Jesus can save us from our sinning. Therefore, we don’t stay stopped sinning, to stay saved. Our actions and attitudes which are not of faith, are just that, actions and attitudes. Such cannot alter the identity we’ve received from the moment we first believed. We are children of God no matter what we do or don’t do! (See 1 John 3:1, John 1:12).
So repentance is a two-step process—one follows the other and they are not combined:
1. We repent of unbelief in Jesus as our Savior in order to be saved.
2. Because we are already saved, we repent of incorrect actions and attitudes so that Christ can live through us, and so we can be our true selves as God’s kids.
I hope this helps you understand my teaching a little better.”
A prayer for you: Heavenly Father, thank you for opening up my eyes to the truth of your loving, graceful, merciful gospel. Thank you for what Jesus has done for me! Thank you for teaching me my true identity, and that Christ is in me forever! Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. For those who have been incorrectly taught who you really are, help them. Help them to stop focusing on what THEY do or don’t do, and to START focusing on what Jesus has done TO them. Open up their minds to understand that you loved us so much, you paid off ALL our debts once and for all IN Jesus! Now, all we must do each day is wake up and say, “Thank you. Live through me. Teach me more about who I am.” In Christ’s name I pray, amen.
This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 2. Get your copy here!