No Forgiveness for Sins?

There are some passages in Scripture that seem a bit disturbing when set in the context of the rest of Scripture. We are taught that God can and will forgive any and all sin and yet there are some passages that if read simplistically (or according to what some would call “the plain meaning of Scripture”) appear to teach that some sins cannot be forgiven.

 For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit…and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame (Hebrews 6:4,6).

For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins (Hebrews 10:26).

The good news is that Biblical background and context make all the difference when it comes to understanding the meaning of Scripture. Victor Hamilton in the Handbook on the Pentateuch informs us of how another oddity in Scripture helps us resolve this one. “The Old Testament sacrificial system makes provisions only for accidental sins, not for those perpetrated deliberately” (245). However, when you look at what constitutes an “accidental sin” you soon realize it includes sins that could not possibly be done without knowledge. For instance, the following are included: stealing, lying about something someone lost, and lying about being innocent of another crime or to cover up another crime!

How can any of these possibly be put into the category of accidental sins? In Numbers 5:6-8 confession (in action) changes things. “Thus the sin moves into the category of inadvertent sins and may be expiated” (246). What does this mean for the passages in the NT (including the mention of the “unforgivable” sin in the Gospels)? Hebrews draws heavily from the Old Testament. It is also speaking in Old Testament language. Continually throughout the Old Testament and New Testament God openly forgives those who wrong Him and others knowingly and He often waits a long while to punish them. He has explicitly expressed that He wants everyone to confess, turn from their sin and be saved too (1 Timothy 2:4; Acts 17:30; 2 Peter 3:9). All of this is to say: sins done intentionally cannot be forgiven unless one turns to God. Then, as far as God is concerned, your “unintentional” sin can be forgiven.

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death (Romans 8:1-2).

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One thought on “No Forgiveness for Sins?

  1. Yeah, the way I understood these verses was that:
    “For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins (Hebrews 10:26).”
    -Refers to a state of willfully sinning while knowing the truth – in much the way the Devil does. Just as the Devil, in the state of his high handedness, is not covered by the cross so a human in the state of high handedness is damned.

    It’s important to note that the concept is present tense, not future tense. Any state of being is by nature transient or transcendental. Sin is categorically not transcendental, so it’s transient.

    Knowing the truth, and persisting in sin is damning – but if one has been persisting in sin, and turns from it, it no longer remains true that one is sinning with a high hand. One is repenting from sin with a high hand – so one’s transient state is one of remorse.

    “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death (Romans 8:1-2).”

    Ontologically, dominion was given to Adam (man). Adam (humanity) gave dominion to sin – therefore death. So the Dominion of our own human will is now the Dominion of Sin/Death. To embrace our will, and reject the will of the cross is to choose a kingdom where humanity has dominion – and therefore the ruler we chose for ourselves: not the cross. This was the nature of man’s dominion before the cross since the time of Adam, and it is still the nature of that kingdom after the cross. When Christ comes as a new Adam (significance because of new Dominion), he change the nature of human dominion, but instead provides an alternative.

    So, in the dominion of man ‘there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins’ – because there never was, but in the dominion of Christ ‘Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.’

    Which, I think is also how the cross can be universal in its outlook but not have universalism as a doctrine categorically be true.

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