Sins – Past, Present, and Future?


Question: “Does faith in Christ cancel out our sins past, present, and future or just our past sins?

Answer: This is arguably one of the most essential and fundamental elements of the Gospel.  For most, it is this very issue that compels them to reach out to Jesus in the first place, seeking His grace and mercy afforded to us by His free and finished work upon the cross some 2,000 years ago. God’s power to cancel our debt is not only desirable to the broken sinner, it is essential.  Only God can forgive sin, to be sure! (Luke 5:21) Since all men are sinners, none of us have the capacity to cancel the debt we or others owe, especially since the debt owed is to God, not to men.

The question of God’s capacity to forgive sins must also be answered in light of His just character. Yes, God so loves the world, but in His just nature, everyone will most assuredly be held accountable for every wicked thought and deed ever expressed during their lifetime. Truly, left to our own devices, mankind is hopeless and eternally lost. That is why God became a sinless man. Both fully God and fully man, Jesus came to legally pay the penalty mankind deserves. Jesus was born through a sinless birth. He walked a sinless life. Yet He became sin for us so that we might become righteous in God’s eyes. (2 Corinthians 5:21) God poured out His eternal wrath, the punishment we deserve, upon His one and only begotten Son. God’s mercy and justice met at the cross. “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven.” Psalm 85:10-11.

God not only has the power and plan to forgive sin, He actually perfectly performed it. Jesus’ last words upon the cross were “It is finished!”  (John 19:30) In other words, “Paid in full.” He paid the debt for all mankind, the whole world!  Jesus did not simply pay for sins, but rather the entire penalty of all sin.  He cancelled the power and penalty of sin, making a new and living way for all who are willing to receive His forgiveness. (Hebrews 10:20) Since Jesus paid the sin debt of all humanity once and for all, we must conclude that He not only died for my past personal sins against God, but all my sins- past, present, and future.  

God is eternal and He is outside of time. For God, there is no past, present, or future. So it only makes sense that Jesus, being fully God could completely pay an eternal price for all mankind for all time- past, present, and future. But we must remember, it’s bigger than this. Jesus did not simply pay the price for particular sins. He actually cancelled the entire debt requirement that our sinfulness justly deserves and that the law requires. 

Pretend there is a law that a thief must pay a billion dollar penalty and you are the criminal. You then stand before the judge with nowhere near enough to pay the price. You are hopeless and desperate and truly sorry for your crime. You cry out to the judge, asking if there is any other way. The judge explains that he made another way, but that not many choose it. The judge’s son is not only willing to pay your billion dollar debt, but also pay for all debt, making a new and better way.  In a sense, he and his father made a new law, one higher than the old. The son not only paid the past penalty, but the penalty for all time, which then, in effect, cancels out the law, making it possible for another way to be put in its place.

The one thing you’d have to do is willingly sign your life away. By signing the son’s contract, you would be waving all your rights for the rest of your life. You would leave your old life behind and be willingly brought under ownership of the son and the judge.  The contract affirms that all past, present, and future penalty under the old law has been paid for by the son.  It is a contract that frees you not only from the penalty, but from the old law itself, bringing you under a new and living way.  In this example, once you sign the son’s contract, the old law’s power and penalty no longer apply. It no longer applies to your past, your present, or your future. Why? Because you have been set free from the entirety of the penalty under the law all because of the son’s payment. And positionally, you’ve been moved under a different contract. The son not only paid it all. He also paved a new path (and provided new promises) to put all willing participants upon!

Jesus paid the whole thing, both fulfilling the law’s requirements and freeing sinners who turn to Him from the power and penalty of the law once and for all.  Not only is this logical, it is biblical. Throughout God’s Word, we are reminded that we are forgiven of ALL of our sins. In Psalm 103:12, the Lord reminds us, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” In 1 John 1:7, we are told, “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

One last point to your question: In it you mention our faith.  To be precise, it is not our faith that cancels anything. No one has ever been saved simply by their faith.  In Ephesians 2:8 it says, “For by grace are you saved through faith…” It is God’s gracious gift of His glorious Son that saves, not our faith. To return to the previous story for a moment, if the judge and his son didn’t actually make another way, it wouldn’t matter how much faith you had. It isn’t you signing the contract that saves, but the one who paid the penalty and made the contract. Everyone has faith. It is not our faith, but rather the object of our faith that is the key. So really, if we were to answer your question literally, the answer would be none of the above. Our faith cannot save us from our past, present, or future sins. It is God who saves, and He does so through the gracious gift of His Son, Jesus Christ.

“For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:3-7

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