When does God forgive sin?

I’m not planning to use the bible for this. At least not much! I’ve taught this stuff from the bible a number of times. This time I’m taking a different approach.

So – when do you show mercy to someone. Before you’ve forgiven them or after? After of course. If you harbour unforgiveness towards someone you don’t show them mercy or kindness.

Or consider these options when someone has been offended.

1. When he apologies I’ll forgive him – and only then.

2. I forgive him, as long as he doesn’t do it again.

3. I forgive him, as long as I know he regrets what he did.

4. I forgive him unilaterally, regardless of the above.

Which sounds more like God?

Now, consider the unsaved person. unfortunately we need a bible for this bit. Eph 2:1-10.

The unsaved person is dead in their sin (verse 1). Now, it is a statement of the obvious that dead people cannot act. So the dead unbeliever cannot apologise or do anything to prompt God’s forgiveness. So, if God requires any of options 1-3 above or any variant, then there is no hope for the dead person.

How does that person get saved? By faith in Jesus. But how do they get that faith. Spiritually dead people cannot, by definition, rise to faith. We learn in verse 4 that God had mercy to us and (verse 5) made us alive, giving us the gift of faith (verse 8 ) so that we could believe and be born again. Then and only then do we have spiritual life to enable us to do any of the things we’d need to do to satisfy options 1-3.

So, if God is currently unforgiving towards the unsaved because of their sin He won’t show them mercy and thus He won’t give them faith to believe. He’ll just leave them in their dead state and consign them to hell.

My conclusion is this. Unless option 4 is true and God has unilaterally forgiven all the sin of the world and is no longer counting their sins against them (2 Cor 5:19 and 1 John 2:2 apologies for the bible verses) then God cannot and will not wake them from death and they cannot and will not apologise confess repent or anything else of their sin and thus cannot be saved.

The only way anyone can be saved is if God has unilaterally placed all their sins and guilt in Jesus and forgiven them, regardless of their actions or response.

To finish with three bible verses, just to confirm that this message is Universal FORGIVENESS, not Universal SALVATION.

John 1:12 to those who recieve him who believe on his name, to them he gives the right to become children of God, not born of man but of God.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world he gave his only son that whoever BELIEVES in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Note in all three the issue is believing in Jesus – not apologising for sins or even stopping sinning or turning from sin – actually religious people have to turn from righteousness to follow Jesus! (Phil 3:6-7). The thing Paul counted loss was his righteous God-pleasing life!


14 Responses to “When does God forgive sin?”

  1. Steve Hill Says:


  2. Gregg Taylor Says:

    I am sure glad we serve a merciful, forgiving, God. Man sure isn’t at times but God is all the time.

  3. Ryan Says:

    This is awesome.

    one typo — where you write (verse 8 ) you should add an extra space because it adds an emoticon with sunglasses lol

    • jeremypenwarden Says:

      That wasn’t a typo – it was emoticons being annoying to normal folks who don’t know how to do them!! Thanks Ryan and thanks for the awesome.

    • jeremypenwarden Says:

      I suppose technically this isn’t facebook – but I think you’re treading a fine line……have a blessed week.

  4. John Says:

    Love it thanks. One typo, 2 Cor 6:19 should be 2 Cor 5:19 🙂

  5. Alex Says:

    If all are forgiven their sins but saved due to unbelief… then why are they judged according to what they have done right and wrong on Judgment day, considering their forgiven? And how can they, if forgiven, be storing up wrath for the day of judgment?
    These are the 2 main problems I have had with universal forgiveness that no one has yet to answer…

    • jeremypenwarden Says:

      Alex – let me ask you another question. If universal forgiveness is not true, then how do you explain Isaiah 53:6 where ALL we like sheep have gone astray clearly means all of humanity, yet by the end of the verse, according to your doubts, ALL then means only some? What is your alternative exegesis of this verse.

      And 2 Cor 5:19 in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them.

      What does this mean?

      If these scriptures are clear then you have to accept them.

      Andrew Wommack says that we receive by faith what God has already provided by grace. At the final judgement we are judged by what we’ve done and thus whether by faith we accepted our sins ‘sent away’. During this life, we are not judged. Jesus made it clear that He did not come to judge the world. However, there is a day set by God when He WILL judge the world by Jesus – Acts 17:31.

      Remember too what Paul teaches in Gal 5:18-21. That we are not under law, but that those who practice the works of the flesh will not inherit the Kingdom – and some of those works of the flesh like rivalries, divisions and drunkenness were never named as sins. So this list of Paul’s isn’t about sin.

  6. Berni Says:

    awesome. 🙂

  7. Chuck Says:

    Hebrews 9:28 says that when Christ appears a second time, he’s not coming to deal with sin (since, according to Romans 6:10, he died to sin and ended his relationship to it. Both of these verses are especially poignant in the Amplified Bible). He’s the Lamb of God who’s taken away the sins of the world.

    Judgment comes down to faith or unbelief. Thanks for the blog, Jeremy. Keep preaching the Good News!

  8. Florimillian Joseph Says:

    Will the dead in sin be saved?

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