If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:8-9


Have you ever heard a statement in church saying that once we have accepted Christ’s forgiveness, we are forgiven “yesterday, today, and tomorrow?” It’s made to sound like that’s all there is to reaching heaven. Words like this from a message in church make us feel good. But sometimes the full truth is avoided or not made clear.

Forgiveness from God is not a one-time deal. Neither is it unconditional. There are conditions attached. Whenever we do something wrong, we need to confess that what we did was wrong. We need to repent—to feel heartfelt sorrow, and a sincere commitment to forsake the sin. We need to ask for forgiveness—from God and the person we hurt. This is the only way we can be assured of keeping a healthy relationship with God and the person we hurt.

Maybe you don’t believe you did anything wrong.

In Matthew 18:15-17, Jesus said,  “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

The important thing about forgiveness is to accomplish reconciliation. At least, when forgiveness is not sought or given, the relationship suffers. Fellowship with Jesus is weakened or broken. It makes me wonder. Maybe some are not even interested in having a relationship with Jesus.

The Bible speaks of false teachers. They look good and sound good but twist the true Word of God to suit their own purposes. Sometimes they themselves cannot accept the full truth and live by it.

Such teachers did not only exist in Jesus’ day. They are with us, even now. They should be held accountable because they can do harm to their congregation’s spiritual life.