According to God’s word, sin is the transgression of God’s word (I John 3:4). Also clearly taught in God’s word is the fact that every person who has lived, is living and will live on this earth, with the exception of Jesus Christ, has or will sin. Paul said that “…all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). It is also clearly taught that the end result of sin is eternal spiritual death. Paul stated, “For the wages of sin is death…” (Rom. 6:23) and James wrote, “…then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:15). The apostle John wrote about entering into heaven saying, “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie…”Rev. 21:27). Thus, the greatest need of man who lives on this earth is to have their sins removed, nullified, remitted or forgiven in some way. At the close of this article we will briefly address how this can be done, but for now, let us consider some things that simply will not get the job done.
First of all, though it has been said that “time heals all wounds”, time does not remove sin. No matter how much time passes, any sin that has not been forgiven is remembered by God. Time means nothing to Him. A “…day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (II Pet. 3:8). It is true that when God forgives sins, He has promised that he will remember them no more (Heb. 8:12; 10:17), but those that have not been forgiven are not forgotten. There is no statute of limitations setting a time limit for how long God can punish unforgiven sin. In fact, the continuation of time can bring about the opposite effect. The Hebrew writer speaks of one being hardened through the deceitfulness of sin (Heb. 3:13). When sin is left to fester, it can sear the conscience (I Tim. 4:2) bringing one to the point of “being past feeling” (Eph. 4:19). Time will not remove sin.
In recent times we have all heard the statement, “What happens in Vegas, remains in Vegas”. However, distance from the place where sin was committed does not remove that sin. Jonah would be a great example of that truth. When commanded by God to go to Nineveh and proclaim the word to them, he instead boarded a ship bound for Tarshish. No distance, not seas nor even any mountains separating him from his disobedience to God could excuse his sin. It is true that man may well not know what you have done in the past and in other areas of the world. However God does know. The Hebrew writer stated, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:13). Jesus said, “…I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works” (Rev. 2:23).
We have also heard said, “Money just can’t buy everything”. This old saying is certainly true, and forgiveness of sins is one of those things that money can’t buy. Forgiveness of sins can’t be bought with either money or good works. This is not to say that a child of God does not need to give to the cause of Christ, for it is commanded that they do so (I Cor. 16:1-2; II Cor. 9:6-7). Neither does it mean that a child of God does not need to do good works, for again the word of God commands us to do so (Matt. 5:16; Tit. 2:7). Cornelius is a prime example of one who was full of good works, but still lost in his sins. The Bible says of him that he was, “A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway” (Acts 10:2). But the Bible also says that he needed to be told, “…words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved” (Acts 11:14). However, let us not leave the idea in anyone’s mind that one does not have to do anything in order to have their sins forgiven. Jesus said, “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). The writer of Hebrews stated, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:8-9). This brings us to briefly addressing what will remove sin. It is the blood of Jesus Christ that pays the price for our sins (I Pet. 1:18-19). John said that it was Jesus Christ “…that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Rev. 1:5). The question of when does the blood of Christ wash away our sins can be answered by what Ananias told Paul; “…arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Peter told those on Pentecost to “…repent and be baptized…for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). When we are baptized into Christ, we are to be raised to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:3-4). The blood of Christ removes our sins when we obey the gospel of Christ.
Robert Oliver is pastor of The Church of Christ and a long-time columnist for The Sampson Independent. Send any questions or comments to: [email protected]