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Question

What if you forget about a sin you've committed? Are you still forgiven? What if you remember it later?

Answer

Thank you so much for your honest and important question about sin and forgiveness. I hope my answer will be of much help to you.

In answering, I will be helping you to look at what the Bible says in relation to your question. This is because the Bible is the way God has chosen to speak to people, and so, in listening to what the Bible says, we are listening to what God has to say.

In the New Testament, in the letter written by James, he says this: confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed (James 5:16). Here, James’ first readers, and we too, are told to admit our wrongdoings to one another. This isn’t suggesting that Christians should only confess to their minister, pastor or priest. Rather, when we have done wrong, we can tell other Christians around us, and ask them to pray for us, as well as praying for them when they have sinned.

Sometimes, it is right to confess our sins to other Christians around us, especially if in our wrongdoing we have hurt them in some way. But much more often, the Bible shows the importance of confessing our sins to God himself. Have you ever read Psalm 51? It is a really wonderful song written by King David about God’s forgiveness, how he has mercy, and forgives people, because of his loving kindness, not our goodness. In this psalm, David is reflecting on how he committed adultery with a woman named Bathsheba, and then had her husband killed. Having remembered his sins, David says these words to God: Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight (Psalm 51:4).

David had done something awful against the man who he had killed! But compared to sinning against God, his sin against the man counted as almost nothing. When we treat other people wrongly, that is bad – very bad. But sinning against God when we do so is a much worse!

David needed to confess his sins, not to another person, but to God himself. And the same is true for you and me. We might not have sinned in such blatant ways as David, but you and I do not "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself" (Luke 10:27), as Jesus told us we must, and as such we have sinned against God.

The great news is, we can confess our sins to God, and he will hear and forgive. Let me share with you a verse the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy that shows why we can be sure that, when we confess our sins to God, he hears. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5).

God’s son, the Lord Jesus Christ, is both God and man. He enables us to be heard by God; He is our mediator.

So, God hears when we call out to him, and ask for forgiveness. But how can he forgive? God is totally Holy, separate from all wrong. Our sins are serious to God and He cannot just ignore sin. Paul tells us the answer to how God can forgive in the very next verse: the Man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all (1 Timothy 2:5-6).

God the Father sent Jesus Christ, not just so that we could be heard by him, but so that we could be totally accepted by him. And Jesus Christ has achieved this by giving himself as a ransom for people. He did this on the cross, when he took upon himself the righteous punishment of God for the sins of others.

Because Jesus Christ has done this, all who trust him, and not themselves, have their sins totally wiped out, and God chooses to remember the sin no more. Isn’t that wonderful?

You don’t need to worry about whether you remembered to confess every single sin. You don’t need to wonder if you have done enough good deeds, or been to church enough, to be accepted by God.

Instead, if you trust in Christ, you can be sure that God accepts you, not because of what you can do, but because of what Christ has done. And this frees us to live a life of thankfulness to God.

In my own experience, I wondered whether God would really forgive my sin. What if I did not remember to confess a particular sin? Or what if I was not sorry enough for my sins? Then, I began to read the Bible for myself, after many years of hearing it read out at church. Through reading I discovered that actually, my sins are far more serious than I had ever thought. However I also found that what God has done for us in Christ, so that our sins can be truly forgiven, is far more amazing than I had realised.

In summary, remember that we must confess our sins to God, and we can know that if we trust in Jesus, God the Father not only hears, but freely forgives us.

I hope this answer helps you to find peace with God through Jesus Christ. If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our site: Watch the video

I encourage you to attend a local Bible believing church and speak to the leader about your question. If you want to find a local church, our Church Finder may help you: Find a Church

Please feel free to submit a question to us or to read our answer database: Ask a Question

*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise

*If anything in this answer affects you directly, then please feel free to call our confidential prayer line in the UK on 0845 4567729, where trained Christian volunteers will take your call and pray both for you and with you. If you are outside of the UK then you may submit your request for prayer on line at www.ucb.co.uk/prayerline


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