THOUGHTS ON THE LORD’S DAY
”Why the continuing need for repentance if we have been fully justified?”
There is absolutely no contradiction between justification by grace through faith and our need for ongoing forgiveness of sin. We ask God to forgive us not to be re-justified but to walk before him in confidence that Christ has paid it all, and we are debtors to His grace alone.
Justification occurs once for all time, yet repenting for continuing to ”fall short of His glory” and receiving forgiveness is ongoing until we are glorified in eternity and sin no more. We are always complete in Christ, yet we are also in real relationship with God.
All relationships need constant attention if they are to remain healthy and vibrant. Asking your spouse, family members and friends to forgive you when you have failed them should be common and frequent. When its not, you may still be related but you have no fellowship.
When we sin, break fellowship with God or anyone else, we put a strain on that relationship and it needs to be restored. When I break fellowship with my spouse I don’t have to remarry her to be restored. Same with our children, those relationships are permanently established. We are born-again by repenting and asking for forgiveness, our relationship with God is established.
This is how we make sense of our full justification in Christ and Scripture’s teaching that we need ongoing forgiveness. In asking God to forgive us, we add nothing to Christ’s perfect work. Instead, we are reapplying what Christ has done for us as our covenant redeemer.
What is sin? Growing up in ”church” it seemed everyone had their own definition and list. There seemed to be a lot of things you couldn’t do. As a young person at times that was quite distressing and often discouraging. It wasn’t until years later that God assured me He wanted fellowship, not a relationship based on compliance to a code of conduct.
I love Susanna Wesley’s definition of sin: ”Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, takes off your relish for spiritual things, whatever increases the authority of the body over the mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may seem in itself.”
Fellowship, with God and everyone else, is built on making repentance a lifestyle, not an occasional act. Forget the lists. Quite keeping score, your own and others. God has no lists and doesn’t keep score.
”Love is patient, love is kind … it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-5