For example, if someone was saved at a very young age but lived a life full of sins their whole adult life, yet asked for forgiveness along the way, is there a point where God would stop forgiving?
1 John 1:5 - 10
ESV - 5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
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There is no limit to how many times God forgives us, if we turn to him in repentance. "Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven." Matt 18:21-22 Though it may seem to us that we are falling into the same sin over and over again, much like the brother in Christ in Jesus' example, every time we ask forgiveness, Jesus will grant it. This seems strange by human standards. After all, if a neighbor does the same thing to us over and over again, it is very hard to trust their sincerity past the first couple of times. Yet God, unlike us, can see the heart. If we acknowledge our sin, confess it, and repent of it, He will forgive. That is regardless of whether or not we later stumble in the same sin. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." I John 1:9 This does not mean, however, that we should become complacent in sin, or use grace as a license to sin. "What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?" Rom 6:15-16 Maturing in Christ is a process (II Pet 1:3-11). We should daily strive to follow God and walk in obedience. As we walk by the Spirit, we will put to death the deeds of the flesh. (Rom 8:12-14) "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." Rom 12:1-2 The measure we should use for evaluation, then, is not the number of times we stumble, but where our direction/heading is, and if we are growing in our faith. That is, are we seeking God, our seeking the world or pleasure? Are we maturing over time, or stagnating, even backsliding in our faith? If we are struggling with a particular sin over and over, scripture gives advice on many of the ways we can resist temptation: - Don't become arrogant if you think you have beaten a particular sin (I Cor 10:12). - Look for a way of escape (I Cor 10:13). This might be avoiding situations where you commonly encounter the temptation, seeking accountability so you have no unsupervised capability of indulging the temptation, replacing a trigger (such as TV or computer use) with time with God (such as Bible study or prayer), etc. - Pray (Luke 11:4) - Confess sins to other Christians (James 5:16). They can help in both accountability and intercession. - Put on the armor of God, daily (Eph 6:10-20) - Analyze the source and root of the sin, and any lies one may be telling oneself about it (James 1:13-15) - Seek medical help or therapy if needed (As some sins are addictions, which affect brain chemistry) - Analyze one's social circle and priorities. Do they show friendship with the world, or with God? (James 4:4-6) - Be humble (James 4:6, James 4:10, II Chron 7:14). - Submit to God and resist the devil. This means submission in obedience and heart to the Lord, but standing firm against the attacks of Satan. (James 4:7-10) - Listen to the loving restoration of brothers, if offered (Gal 6:1) It is easy to fall into Satan's lie that we are 'failures', or don't 'deserve' to have God forgive us, if we stumble more than once in the same sin. Yet none of us deserve God's grace and mercy; it is freely given. Furthermore, as God works all things out for good for those who love Him, we forgive others as we see how God has forgiven us (Luke 7:47, Matt 6:12). We then grow in empathy and love.
Psalms 136 clearly says,Give thanks to God For His mercy endureth for ever. Mercy of God never ENDS. God's grace is NOT exhaustible. We must know that we are living in the Church Age under the dispensation of grace. It is the period of time from Pentecost (Acts 2) to the Rapture (foretold in1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). It is called the Church Age because it covers the period in which the Church is on earth. It corresponds with the dispensation of Grace. The answer is "No", the grace of God to forgive our sins will not be exhaustible even after rapture. The door of mercy will never be closed to Jews or Gentiles even during the tribulation or any other time. Multitudes will be saved during the tribulation (Acts 2:16-21 Rev. 7:1-17; 12:17; 15:2-4; 20:4-6). Hope that helps.
God is always faithful and always forgives when presented with true repentance. In the scenario you provided above, you ask if a person who turned from God and sinned most of their adult life could be forgiven. If said person repented (i.e. to seek forgiveness and then go and sin no more (not intentionally anyways)) then said person would be forgiven regardless of their sinful past. However, if said person asks forgiveness, but intentionally continues to live in that sin, then that is not true repentance; they do not practice truth. It's a matter of the heart and character.
There is no limit to God's forgiveness if you know and trusted Him and have received Him as your Lord and Savior. If you do not know Jesus Christ and you would not be forgiven because you ask not. There is one sin that is the unpardonable sin or blasphemy of the Holy Spirit Matt: 12:31-33 and Mark 3: 28-29, is the continued unbelief when you hear the Gospel of Christ brought to us from the Father, To reject Jesus Christ, the only means of Salvation, is rejecting the only pardon provided by God and the Holy Spirit will not dwell in you to show God that you are His. In the case that you received Christ at a very early age and did not pass the age of accountability when he/she is capable of making a faith decision for or against Christ is another matter strictly between you and God for the age of accountability is not mentioned in the Bible. Jesus said "Let the little children come to me", Matt 19:14 and Acts 17:29, which states that all are off springs of God and they come into the world innocent of sin, If you have doubts of your Salvation because you were too young when you made the faith decision, I believe you should accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and "Go and sin no more", which is impossible but by confessing your sins, He will forgive you and the Holy Spirit living in you will give you the power, understanding and help in not sinning. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lend not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path." Proverbs 3:5-6 and 3:7-8 "Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil; It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.
Though God always forgives without limit there is a lmit to how many times He withholds consequences. In (Mt 18:21-22) Peters asks the Lord... "21 Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? W Up to seven times?" 22 Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, x up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven." Though I am not into numbers in the bible there is instruction here. Jesus says to forgive "up to" Seventy times seven. The "up to" is where I want to focus. In the book of 2 Chronicles chap. 36 we read that Nebuchadnezzar sacked Jerusalem. Verse 21 states the reason. So that the land could enjoy her sabbaths for 70 years. In Lev 23 the land sabbath said that the land was to lie fallow every seven years. The Israelite's did not do this and disobeyed God. For the land to enjoy her sabbaths for 70 years this means that the Jews disobeyed the land sabbath law for 490 years and THIS time the Lord used Nebuchadnezzar as a consequence. In Mt 18 Jesus said to forgive UP TO 70 X 7 years. When Nebuchadnezzar sacked Jerusalem, took the people as prisoners and carried them off to babylon for 70 years I believe the Lord foragve the disobedience without consequence for 489 years but when they disobeyed 490 times (or 70 X 7) times like Jesus said in Matthew.....He made them pay for their error. This is interesting to me because it shows me how the bible can be taken literally much more than many believe.
According to Jesus there is one unforgivable sin. Matt 12:31 Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 31 Therefore I say unto you, Every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. 32 And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
I think it's a popular idea among Christians that when we ask God for forgiveness, we appeal to his mercy. To a point this is true, but I think it doesn't go far enough and leaves us exactly with the question you've posed. Another way of saying this might be, 'How does God FEEL about me coming back to him to ask forgiveness yet again for this same sin?' If we keep reading to verse 9 in the passage you posted, John says that God is faithful and just to forgive us." Rather than appealing to God's mercy alone, John is saying that we can appeal to God's justice. In other words, in His mercy God has taken it upon himself to pay the price of our sin, which was death, and justice has been satisfied. It is finished. Our sins, however many, cannot eclipse the blood of Jesus. For example, years ago, when Scotland still had the death penalty, when someone was convicted of a crime punishable by death, a public notice would be posted when the execution was over and his life had been taken as payment, stating that the convicted criminal ‘has been justified'. It was finished. Justice had been satisfied as the criminal had now paid for his crime. The same goes for us. As far as the law is concerned, justice has been satisfied because Jesus paid what was required under the law, but as far as we are concerned, mercy has been extended and we are free. A legal and binding transaction has occurred and, if we are in Christ, the case against us is closed. Beyond all of this, we are now a new creation. God has united himself to us, his own Spirit has taken up residence in us to be our life, and the life that God intended for his creation can now be lived out by God's Spirit living through us. We will find that apart from Christ and his Spirit in us, we can do nothing, just as he said in John 15:5, but like Paul says in Phil. 4:13, we can do everything through Christ.
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