If you are saved do you need to repent again?
To accept Christ, people are encouraged to say a simple prayer indicating that they have repented of their sins and to ask Christ to come and live in their hearts. Having done that, persons are given the assurance that they are saved. A few questions now arise; do they need to repent of future sins? What if they don’t? Do they lose salvation? If they do, was the salvation conditional? We’ll now examine these questions.
There was a time when priests used to offer what were called indulgences. These were said to provide pardon for sins that people committed. A problem arose in that people were obtaining indulgences even before they committed the sins. This gave them a sense of security, such that, there was no need to repent of sins that they committed afterwards or seek forgiveness for those sins as long as they already had an indulgence or previously secured pardon. This matter caused conscientious people to protest. The result was what was called the Protestant Reformation.
The indulgences were being sold by the priests but that is not the aspect of the matter that is now being looked at. We can establish that forgiveness cannot be bought with money. There is also the issue of whether a human priest can pardon sins but that is a different discussion as well, which we will not get into just now. The issue at hand is simply whether or not forgiveness for sins of the past provides forgiveness for sins of the future or whether forgiveness can be obtained for sins before those sins are committed. If we say that we have repented and we are saved, are we clear of all future condemnation even if we sin after that? Someone may say if you are saved you will repent. But that does not answer the question. Based on that argument, it would also be true to say that if you are saved and Christ lives in your heart you will not sin. But we all sin. So is it that nobody is saved? Or is it that you are saved whether or not you continue to sin? Surely, we would not be suggesting that there needs be no difference in behaviour between the saved and the unsaved.
The truth is that forgiveness for sins of the past does not provide forgiveness for sins of the future and it is not true to say that once forgiven you are always forgiven. The Bible says that we should not sin but if we sin, we have an advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1). Additionally, Jesus says that if we do not forgive others, our Father in heaven will not forgive us (Matt. 6:14, 15). This was further explained by a parable in which Jesus spoke of a servant who was about to be sold along with his wife, his children and all his possessions in order to pay a debt that he owed (Matt. 18:21-35). But he asked for forgiveness and his lord forgave him the entire debt. The man then went out and saw a fellow servant who owed him a small sum. He insisted that his fellow servant be sent to prison because he was unable to pay, even though his fellow servant asked him to be patient with him. When his lord heard what he did to his fellow servant, his lord retracted his previous position of forgiving him his debts and ordered him to be delivered to the tormentors till he should pay all that he owed. Jesus then went on to say that, “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” (Matt. 18:35).
This would indicate that forgiveness is on condition that you do not continue to sin. Sin is disobedience to God’s instructions (1 John 3:4). God’s moral instructions are summarized in the Ten Commandments. God has made provision for us to live above sin. We are told that the gifts of the spirit are given for the “perfecting of the saints” so that we can come to the “measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13, 14). Jesus has told us, further, that our Father in heaven will not withhold the Holy Spirit from us if we ask Him (Luke 11:13). In the final analysis, we are admonished to be kind to one another and forgive one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven us (Eph. 4:32).
“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).
- Zerubbabel (Zech. 4:6)