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Should claiming Godís forgiveness allow people to overlook their obligations and forget about the harm they have done?

Godís Word assures Christian believers of the forgiveness of any sin through Christís sacrificial death on their behalf.

Christians no longer face damnation - the eternal consequences of their sins. But they still face sinís earthly consequences. For Christians, the earthly consequences of sin donít exist as the punishment of an angry God. They remain as reminders of the fact that we live in a flawed, fallen world. The effects of sin still remain. The fullness of our redemption still lies ahead.

A person who has been a drunkard for many years, for example, may suffer irreversible liver damage that will remain following his conversion. A father who has neglected his family will continue to see the effects of his neglect. Sometimes we can make amends in this life for our sins, other times we cannot.

The Holy Spirit strengthens and renews Christians, even though they continue to be haunted by the earthly consequences of sin. The character of Christ Himself becomes established within them (Romans 8:29), so that they will be empowered to live consistently with the truth. The Old Testament prophet Micah wrote, ďHe has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your GodĒ(Micah 6:8).

How can we know we have not gone too far? How can we be sure we have not made ourselves unforgivable in the eyes of God?

The Bible speaks of one unpardonable sin. Jesus talked about a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit that can never be forgiven (Mt. 12:31-32; Mk. 3:28-29). In addition, the apostle John mentions a "sin leading to death" (1 Jn. 5:16-17). What are these sins? Could we have committed them? How do we know whether we have crossed over the line?

The Blasphemy Against The Holy Spirit. Jesus said, "Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. . . . whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come" (Mt. 12:31-32).

Before identifying the principle, let's note a couple of facts. On the positive side, only blasphemy against the Spirit is called unpardonable. Every other sin can be forgiven. That is good news.

It's also important to see the context in which Jesus made His statement. He gave His warning to religious leaders who were publicly rejecting Him. The Pharisees heard Him speak, saw His miracles, and observed His blameless life. Yet they still attributed His supernatural acts to the power of Satan. That is how they blasphemed the Spirit.

Technically, this sin cannot be repeated today in the same way it was committed in Jesus' day. Jesus is not physically with us doing miracles that can be attributed to Satan. But can this sin be committed in principle? What if we have made irreverent remarks about the Holy Spirit? Is it possible we have committed this sin and passed a point of no return? Not if we are concerned about our relationship with Christ. A person who has committed the blasphemy Jesus was talking about will not want to be reconciled to Him. Someone in an unforgivable state would not long for the acceptance and forgiveness of the Son of God. Such a person would be like the Jewish leaders who because of their envy and stubborn pride continued to reject Jesus till their death.

The Sin That Leads To Death. This is different from the unpardonable sin. A sin that results in death can be committed by the Lord's own people. The apostle Paul told believers in Corinth that because of their disrespect for "the Lord's Supper" (Communion Table), some of them were weak, some were sick, and some had even died (1 Cor. 11:29-30).

The apostle John also mentioned the possibility of a sin that would result in death. Without identifying any specific fatal behavior, he acknowledged in 1 John 5:16-17 the kind of sin that was committed by Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11.

According to 1 Corinthians 11:30 and 1 John 5:16-17: (1) The sinning people who experienced premature death belonged to God. (2) Their "death" was physical, not eternal. 1 Corinthians 11:31-32 goes on to say, "For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world."

If we have been forgiven by God, why won't people let us forget the past?

Being forgiven by God does not release us from the natural consequences of our sins. For example, crimes against the state must be subjected to legal due process. Acts against individuals deserve restitution. The forgiveness of God does not qualify former embezzlers to be entrusted with other people's money, just as it does not give us reason to entrust our children to someone with a history of molesting. This is only wisdom.

Hence, it would seem that especially for Christians we must always be aware that although already  forgiven - it does not give us license (1 Cor.6:12;10:23) There will always a price to pay for our selfishness or lack of trust in Him.



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