There are five consequences of sinning in the Bible. Correspondingly there are five kinds of forgiveness.
Unless readers are aware of these differences they will be confused.
The consequence of sin determines the kind of forgiveness involved.
First here are the five consquences of sin in the Bible:
1.) Eternal perdition
2.) Separation from the people of God. For example in the Old Testament, a sinning Israelite might be cut off from the congregation and people of Israel. And in the New Testament, concerning a certain sinning Christian it was said "Remove the evil man from among yourselveds" (1 Cor. 5:13)
3.) Fellowship with God is hindered.
4.) If the sin is not put away, God will chasten and discipline.
5.) If the sin is not forsaken, Christ may deal with it when He comes to reign in the millennial kingdom. In that case the person's position in the millennial kingdom may be affected
There is a difference between consequence # 4 and # 5. The fourth consequence is chastizement in the church age, this current age. The fifth consequence results in chastisement in the coming age, after the second coming of Christ.
This statement in the Bible indicates that certain sins are forgiven in this age and certain sins are forgiven in the coming age:
" ... it will not be forgiven him, neither in this age nor in the one to come." (Matt:12:32b)
The implication is that some sins will be forgiven in the age to come after the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Now I will elaborate on the five kinds of forgiveness related to these five kinds of consequences of sin.
Though this forgiveness relates to eternity it is nonetheless given to sinners in this current age.
The basis of this forgiveness is the new covenant salvation in the sin cleansing blood of Christ's redemptive death:
"For this is the blood of the covenant, which is being poured out for many for the forgivenes of sins." (Matt.26:28)
This eternal forgiveness is because Christ died in our place, eing judged by God:
"And without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." [(Hebrews 9:22.
No matter how big or gross a sin is, it can be forgiven because of the blood of Jesus. From the sinner's perspective it seems free. But from God's perspective it was with a great price. Sins cannot be forgiven eternally except because of the shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ.
This is not a matter of God being lenient and letting man's sins go by. God still condemns the sin. He is ONLY able to forgive the sinner because the sins were judged in Christ. Jesus died, shed His precious blood redeeming the sinner out from under the law of God and its just penalty.
We believers have a Savior that has already died for us and our eternal forgiveness is based on His shed blood. Our faith in Christ saves us from eternal damnation (Acts 10:43; 13:39)
One more post to drive home the eternal aspect of this eternal forgiveness.
Is this eternal forgiveness for the present time of for the future?
Pay attention to the words of the Apostle John "have been forgiven"
I write to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you because of His name." (1 John 2:12)
Past tense - "have been forgiven" proves that this eternal forgiveness has been SETTLED once and for all. It is not "expected to be forgiven" there. Neither is it "waiting to be forgiven". It is "HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN".
Some posters are mighty confused about this. This first type of forgiveness each repentent sinner who believes into Jesus should be aware of. His or her sins "have been forgiven you because of His name."
God does not lie. When He says the the believers sins have been forgiven they have been forgiven. He or she has eternal forgiveness and will never perish forever.
Now we can move on to the other types of forgiveness.
This kind of forgiveness is reflected in this passage:
Whosever sins you forgive, they are forgiven; and whosoever sins you retain, they are retained." (John 20:20)
This passage does NOT mean that the apostles of Jesus had the authority to administer eternal forgiveness (Type #1). The apostles do not have the authority to forgive men eternally on earth.
This refutes the assumed right of any pope to declare sinners forgiven for eternity. The abuse of this passage has led to much confusion. We cannot put into man's hands what alone belongs in God's hands - eternal forgiveness.
This second type of forgiveness is the church being directed by the Holy Spirit to recognize the sinner's forgivness before God. It is Whosoever's sins you forgive" not "Whom you forgive".
Can you see the difference?
"You" is corporate and not private. The forgiveness of the collective church is a recognition here of the forgiveness of God. The church announces the condition of the sinner before God because it recognizes that the man or woman has been forgiven.
This forgiveness was possible because the Lord had breathed into the disciples the Holy Spirit. The church then has the Holy Spirit to depend on. If it is not clear to the church if one is really a Christian time and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit will assist them.
The brothers at first did not trust that Paul was a real disciple. He had been a persecutor. Some probably thought he was an undercover persecutor still, pretending to a disciple. They were wary to accept him into the church life.
After the testimony of Barnabus in Jerusalem on Paul's behalf, was Paul able to join the disciples coming and going in Jerusalem. (Acts 9:26-28).
Type TWO forgiveness is merely the church recognizing what God has already done through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit within them.
Number 3 - Forgivness to Restore Fellowship with God
John tells his audience of disciples:
"My little children, these things I write to you tht you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an ADvocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous; and He HImself is the propitiantion for our sins, and not for ourse only but also for those of the whole world." (1 John 2:1,2)
First John 1:9 says to the Christian disciples - "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
This is the forgiveness needed on a daily bases so that the believer when he falls into a sin, may restore fellowship and communion with the Father. This kind of sin does not cause the believer to be unborn again. Now does it cause her to lose her eternal redemption.
It does interrupt the moment by moment enjoyment of the presence of God. The Spirit within is grieved and an insulation interfers with the joyous communion with God.
This sin is forgiven as soon as confession is made. The flow of fellowship is restored. This maintains a peaceful daily fellowship with the presence of Christ in the heart of the believer.
No sin of a Christian can cause him to not be any longer a regenerated child of God. No sin of a Christian can cause him to no longer be born again. Type ONE Forgiveness has secured their eternal forgiveness. They will never perish.
Type THREE forgiveness exists because obviously God is not interested only in you having a "ticket" so to speak to paradise or heaven. He is interested in your WALKING and LIVING the new life with which you hav been born. There needs to be an indicator in the conscience as to when you have stepped OFF of the path of the new life.
The blood of Jesus the Advocate and the confession to keep short accounts keeps the walk peaceful and wholesome.
It is that this juncture some erroneous teachings fail. Some teachers take John's instructions as an indication that the believer can never be sure if he has eternal life.
Rakj999 and ToO are two people who have exploited this aspect of forgiveness to attack the security of eternal redemption.
God as an administration and a way to deal with man.
Second Samuel 22:26 "With the faithful You show YOurself faithful, With the perfect man You show Yourself perfect, With the pure YOu show Yourself pure, And with the perverse You show YOurself contrary."[/b]
There is an aspect of God's administration in which He deals with us according to the way we are.
In New Testament terms, Paul wrote "Do not be deceived: God is not mocked; for whatever a mans sows, this he will also reap. For he who sows unto his own flesh will reap corruption of the flesh, but he who sows unto the Spirit will of the Spirit reap eternal life." (Gal. 6:7)
In God's adminsitration sowing to he sinful flesh will not only cause a sinful record before God. It will also bring in the sufferings consequences.
The record of sin can be erased and remitted by God. Sometimes the suffering of consewquences cannot be avoided. A criminal may be forgiven by God. He still may have the consquences of doing jail time. He sowed sin and reaps consequences.
We may be forgiven eternally by God. We may not always be able to avoid suffering consequences of our sins.
The child may steal candy from his mother's kitchen cabinet too many times in secret. When the mother finds out she may forgive the child. However the child may have to grow up with rotten teeth as a consequence of his sins.
We may also gain the restoration of fellowship with God (Type 3 Forgiveness) however the consequences of our sins may still remain and be hard to bear.
The backslidden Christian husband cheats on his wife and during that time has no sweet fellowship with God as when he was first saved. He repents. God restores that sweet fellowshipo. However in that sweet restoral he may have to undergo the hardship of a divorce for his sins.
There is restored fellowship but with administrative reaping of the consequences of his sins.
Some Old Testament examples may follow on Type 4 kind of Forgiveness.
Some examples of this kind of forgiveness in God's discipline might be Samson:
Samson was charged to kjeep the vow of the Nazarite and let his hair not be cut all the days of his consecration. He was deceived to cut his hair and the Philistines cut his eyes out.
At the end of his life he prayed that God would restore his strength one more time. He killed more Phiistine enemies of Israel in death than in life. Samson was a judge of Israel. Though God restored his hair He never restored his eyes.
This was forgiveness yet with suffering of consequences.
David is another good example. The suffering of David under his rebellious son Absalom was due to the sins of David's indulgence. When Absalom died David cried wishing that it was he that had died instead. He knew that this suffering of a rebellious son was the consequences of David's own diobedience.
God surely forgave David for his murder and his adultery as is witnessed b Psalm 51. But David had to reap very unpleasant consequences for his sins in his life.
God may forgive. But God will manifest His hatred for the sin that was committed.
In the New Testamen book of James, the writer discribes a Christian asking the elders of the church to pray for him. "Is anyone among you ill? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, it will be forgiven him. "(James 5:14,15)
This is not eternal forgiveness. This is forgiveness in God's discipline. This is not the elders of the church having authority to grant eternal forgiveness to a sinner. This is neither forgiveness to restore flowing fellowship between the Christian and God. This is the believer calling for the elders of the church to pray for him.
IF the elders have the faith, this disciplined brother will be healed of his consequences.
THe elders may or may not have enough faith to petition the Lord Jesus that this disciplined brother be released from the consequences of his foolishness.
Before I continue I would like to say that these ideas I am reading from Watchman Nee's book "Questions on the Gospel' published by Living Stream Ministry. It was previosly released by Christian Fellowship Publishers as The Gospel Dialogue
Peter's epistles are full of the thought of submitting under the governmental discipline of God.
In other words in Peter's ministry he was aware that a great deal of suffering that Christians undergo is simply God's administrative discipline over them. Some are simply siffering under the consequences of forgiven sins.
Take the example of the Christian husband, forgiven yet having to undergo a divorce. He may ask the elders of the church to pray for him.
Maybe those elders have such faith that the wife will change her mind and take that sinning yet disciplined husband back. But they may not have the faith and God may not do it. But they are always free to pray.
A Christian can ask God to lighten His hand of discipline. He may do so proclaming that by Christ's stripes we were healed. That is because of the discipline upon Jesus according to Isaiah 53 we can be plead that our correction be transfered to Christ in some way.
But it is better to humble oneself under the mighty hand of God and accept what He has arranged for your growth. God's treatment is what we deserve., It is probably less than what we deserve.
A disciple who has undergone the consequences of sinning can effectively keep younger disciples from taking sins lightly.