vendredi 26 avril 2013

Should A Christian Ask For Forgiveness?

I never thought it would occur to me to even answer such question - namely, CAN A CHRISTIAN ASK FOR FORGIVENESS after a sin have been committed? If you asked me that many years ago, i would have been shocked even by the nature of that question. But since time changes, and a new generation of questioners arise, we will have to cope with those kind of questions and try to answer them, even the most bizarre questions among them. People - particularly young folks - come up with new questions, unbelievable questions that still needs to be answered. For failure to do so, would unfortunately give some of them the false pretext that they have the right to believe anything they want to believe, even if they hold to the most unbelievable and strangest doctrinal beliefs that has ever crossed a human mind.

So let me proceed ...

In order to answer this question, we need to define few words and then give a brief background about the very reason of the this question.

I. Definition & Explanation:

a) A Christian is a word used since the first century to refer to anyone who became a disciple of Jesus. As it is written in Acts 11: 26:  "And the disciples were first called Christian in Antioch."

b) Forgiveness is only necessary where an offense or a wrongness has been committed. We do not forgive good actions nor proper behaviors. It is only where an improper behavior or an offense (aka sin) has been done that the need to forgive becomes a necessity.

II. Background on the Question:

It appears that there have been some teachings going around claiming that once a man has been forgiven his sins by God, he can not receive again the benefits of God's forgiveness in his/her future Christian life. Why? Because - so goes the argument - once saved a Christian can no longer commit an action that necessitate divine forgiveness. They become perpetually sinless or something like that. So forgiveness is only a benefit that non Christians can enjoy according to that view.

Fortunately for anyone interested in the truth about what the Bible actually says, this doctrinal fault / mistake can be readily and easily corrected. keep reading if the truth about this interest you.

III. Let's Answer It:

First, Our Father forgive Us

Jesus taught his disciples that when they prayed they should ask the Father to forgive them their trespasses (aka sins):  "[Our Father]... forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us." Mathew 6:[9], 12 - ISV.

However  since some people may feel the desire to object to this verse because Jesus taught this before the event of the Cross, then let's look at some texts that convey the same idea after the event of the Cross.

Second, John the apostle teaches the acquisition of forgiveness to Christians

The apostle John taught the first century Christian community that if they confess their sins, God will forgive them.

"If we confess our sins, he [God] is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1John 1:9

 It is interesting to note in this verse  above that   1) John uses the plural form of the pronoun "OUR" as if to indicate that he himself as a christian is included in that beneficial process of receiving forgiveness when it is needed.   2) John does not use the past tense such as "if we confessed our sins" or "God was faithful to forgave us our sins" or "cleansed us from" when he wrote. But He used the present continuous tense in lieu of the past tense, which means that he was not referring to their past lives before they became Christians but rather he was giving them a present solution while they were Christians.   3) John shew that unfortunately sin could still negatively affect Christians. Hence the need for confession and forgiveness.

Thirdly, John gave the reason for our continued reception of forgiveness

Just after chapter 1, the second chapter of the first epistle of John starts as this:

"My little children, I write these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He is the propitiation concerning our sins, and not concerning ours only, but also concerning the sins of all the world." - 1 John 2:1-2

It was important to add this follow up commentary in case, some people manages to miss the obvious points highlighted in the prior discussion. In this chapter, the same John that informed us that if we confess our sin God will forgive us, also inform us why God will do it. God will forgive because by His side we have someone - namely Jesus - who is advocating our case. And in verse 2 the Apostle John attracted our attention to two categories of people benefiting Jesus advocacy. The first group is the Christians and the second group is the world. We know that the first group is the Christians, because John who is a christian write "OUR sins", meaning the sins of Christians including his own sin. Then he also find it important to make a distinction between "OUR SINS" and "SINS OF THE WORLD". This makes sense, because in the language of John, Christians are not of the world even if they are in the world hence making two separate groups of people (see Gospel of John 17).

Fourthly, A Practical Story - Meet Simon

a) Simon became a Christian through the ministry of the evangelist Philip

Act 8:12  "But when Philip proclaimed the good news about the kingdom of God and about the name of Jesus the Messiah, men and women believed and were baptized."
Act 8:13  "Even Simon believed, and after he was baptized he became devoted to Philip. He was amazed to see the signs and great miracles that were happening."

b) Later, Simon (the Christian) exhibited an offending behavior (Sin) - St. Peter was angry at him

Act 8:18  "Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money" 
Act 8:20 "But Peter told him, "May your money perish with you because you thought you could obtain God's free gift with money!
Act 8:21 "You have no part or share in what we're saying, because your heart isn't right with God." 

c) St. Peter the apostle advised Simon (the Christian) to pray for FORGIVENESS

Act 8:22  "So repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, your heart's intent may be forgiven you." 
Act 8:24  "Simon answered, "Both of you pray to the Lord for me that none of the things you have said will happen to me.

With these i end my post on divine forgiveness as being accessible also to the benefits of Christians as well as non Christians when they happen to unfortunately sin. So the answer is an absolute YES. A Christian can and should ask for forgiveness in prayer when s/he sadly sins.

P.S: Check out my book - Help Me Understand Jesus. Check My Book by clicking here or more here.

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