All human misery, e.g. death, disease, fear, pain, and suffering, is ultimately rooted in sin. Sin increases the gap separating mankind from God. On the way toward a complete separation between mankind and God (which is an unavoidable consequence of sin) sinners become unrepentant and hard-hearted. Sin increasingly diminishes their strength to overcome. Ultimately the wages of sin is death (Romans 6: 23). Here a distinction must be made between physical death (i.e. the passing away of a human being) and spiritual death (i.e. complete separation between man and God).
Conditions of Forgiveness
Although God is always ready and willing to forgive us, He requires two things of us as conditions of forgiveness: repentance and forgiveness of others.
1) Repentance. Repentance means a sincere personal resolve to turn away from sin and toward God.
From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (NIV, Matthew 4:17)
If our sin has harmed another person, we should try to make amends for the wrong done (Luke 19:8-10). If we have tried to hide our sin, we should confess it (Matthew 3:1-6, Matthew 18:15-18, Acts 19:18, James 5:16-17). True repentance involves sorrow for acts of sin and leads to a fundamental change in attitude. We are not perfect and may fail in our attempt to avoid sin. In that case God is always willing for us to start over and make another attempt. However, if we ask for forgiveness with the intention of sinning again, we have not really repented.
Related verses: Matthew 3:2, Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:15, Mark 6:12, Luke 3:3, Luke 5:31-32, Luke 13:3-5, Luke 24:47, Acts 2:38, Acts 3:19, Acts 8:22, Acts 17:30-31, Acts 20:21, 2 Corinthians 7:10.
2) Forgiveness of others. Jesus said we must be willing to forgive people who sin against us:
If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. (NLT, Matthew 6:14-15)
There should be no limit to our willingness to forgive others (Luke 17:3-4). We should have a forgiving spirit even if the offender does not repent and ask for forgiveness (Mark 11:25). We damage our relationship with God and harm ourselves if we stay angry or hold a grudge (Matthew 5:21-24).
Related verses: Matthew 18:21-22, Matthew 18:34-35, Ephesians 4:32.
Availability of Forgiveness
The good news is that, no matter how serious the sin, God is always seeking us out and is willing to forgive and forget our sins and give us a fresh start. As long as we live, it is never too late to ask for forgiveness and make a new start!
So Jesus used this illustration: “If you had one hundred sheep, and one of them strayed away and was lost in the wilderness, wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine others to go and search for the lost one until you found it? And then you would joyfully carry it home on your shoulders. When you arrived, you would call together your friends and neighbors to rejoice with you because your lost sheep was found. In the same way, heaven will be happier over one lost sinner who returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away! (NLT, Luke 15:3-7)
When we have sinned, we can ask God for forgiveness, as in the Lord’s Prayer:
and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us. (TLB, Matthew 6:12)
Related verses: Psalms 25:7, Psalms 32:1-2, Isaiah 43:25, Matthew 1:21, Matthew 18:12-14, Matthew 26:28, Luke 15:11-32, Acts 10:43, Acts 13:38, Romans 4:7-8, Hebrews 10:17.
Does God differentiate really between major and minor sins? Do we have to repent of both? What does the Bible actually say about this too?
Neither the Old nor the New Testament presents an exhaustive “doctrine of sin” or a systematic and complete “list of sins”.
Human beings sin whenever they violate God’s declared will. By sinning they burden themselves with guilt before God.
-God Himself always establishes righteous conduct by revealing His will. Mankind is instructed to inquire into God’s will and to act accordingly.
In assessing whether a deed is sinful or not, the only deciding factor is the divine will, as it is manifested in the Holy Scripture, and revealed in timely fashion by the Holy Spirit
(cf. Exodus 20: 20). It is also sinful to break vows made to God (cf. Deuteronomy 23: 22), and not to believe in Christ (cf. John 16: 9). Covetousness, envy, and the like also constitute sin (cf. Galatians 5: 19-21; 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10; Ephesians 5: 5).
Sin constitutes everything opposed to God’s will and contrary to God’s nature. Consequently sin is absolute.
-The Holy Scripture clearly defines sin as any violation of the Ten Commandments
-All deliberate thoughts, words, and deeds contrary to God’s will and nature are sinful. It is also sinful to deliberately neglect to do good (James 4: 17).
All persons are sinners also have to meet certain conditions in order to have their sins forgiven by God. These include:
- Faith in Jesus Christ
- Belief that the authority to forgive sins in the name of Jesus is vested in the apostolate. (The apostles have been given the authority to forgive sins in Jesus’ name, however the absolution pronounced by priestly ministers in the stead of the apostle has the same effect as if the apostle himself had pronounced ).
- The realisation that they have sinned and are in need of grace
- The heartfelt desire for reconciliation with God
- Acknowledging their sins before God, as expressed in the supplication in the Lord’s Prayer: “… forgive us our debts…”
- Remorse and repentance. This is associated with a desire to make good their guilt towards other
- The serious resolution to overcome faults and weaknesses
- Willingness to forgive and be reconciled,
- Grasping the absolution in faith
Keeping God’s word Continually in our heart helps us to keep from sin, sinning, doing wrong
(Psa 119:9 KJV) BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
(Psa 119:11 KJV) Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
(Psa 119:16 KJV) I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.
(Psa 119:17 KJV) GIMEL. Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word.
(Psa 119:25 KJV) DALETH. My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word.
(Psa 119:28 KJV) My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word.
(Psa 119:38 KJV) Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.
(Psa 119:41 KJV) VAU. Let thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD, even thy salvation, according to thy word.
(Psa 119:42 KJV) So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word.
(Psa 119:50 KJV) This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.
(Psa 119:58 KJV) I entreated thy favour with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to thy word.
(Psa 119:65 KJV) TETH. Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O LORD, according unto thy word.
(Psa 119:67 KJV) Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.
(Psa 119:74 KJV) They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word.
(Psa 119:76 KJV) Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant.
(Psa 119:81 KJV) CAPH. My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word.
(Psa 119:82 KJV) Mine eyes fail for thy word, saying, When wilt thou comfort me?
(Psa 119:89 KJV) LAMED. For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.
(Psa 119:101 KJV) I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.
(Psa 119:105 KJV) NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
(Psa 119:107 KJV) I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O LORD, according unto thy word.
(Psa 119:114 KJV) Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word.
(Psa 119:116 KJV) Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope.
(Psa 119:133 KJV) Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.
(Psa 119:140 KJV) Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.
(Psa 119:147 KJV) I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word.
(Psa 119:148 KJV) Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.
(Psa 119:154 KJV) Plead my cause, and deliver me: quicken me according to thy word.
(Psa 119:158 KJV) I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; because they kept not thy word.
(Psa 119:160 KJV) Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.
(Psa 119:161 KJV) SCHIN. Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word.
(Psa 119:162 KJV) I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil.
(Psa 119:169 KJV) TAU. Let my cry come near before thee, O LORD: give me understanding according to thy word.
(Psa 119:170 KJV) Let my supplication come before thee: deliver me according to thy word.
(Psa 119:172 KJV) My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.
(Psa 138:2 KJV) I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.
(Jer 15:16 KJV) Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.
(Luke 5:5 KJV) And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.
(John 17:6 KJV) I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.
(John 17:14 KJV) I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
(John 17:17 KJV) Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
(Acts 4:29 KJV) And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,