How our loving Father deals with our sins
By Apostle Frederick K.C. Price

"I've been living in sin. What can I do for God to forgive me and hear my prayers?"

This is a question that has been addressed to just about every minister of the Gospel at one time or another by many people.

In other words, these people want to know how to establish right relationship and fellowship with God so that God will hear and answer their prayers.

If you are in this situation, and you are not a Christian, the answer is simple. You can establish a right relationship and fellowship with Father God by accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord. According to Romans 3:23-25, when a person accepts Jesus Christ, his whole past, including all the individual sins he may have committed, is remitted. God treats your sins as if they never existed, and you start out in your relationship with the heavenly Father with a clean slate.

If you are a child of God and are "living in sin," or have committed an act of sin, you still have a relationship with God. The only way you can sever that relationship is if you commit what the Bible calls the "sin leading to death" (1 John 5:16) or, as the King James version of the Bible calls it, the "sin unto death." That sin is when you, with your full knowledge and experience with the redemption process, tell God you no longer want the gift of salvation.

Believe me, you will never want to do that in good conscience if you consider yourself a Christian.

When you commit any sin other than the "sin leading to death," your relationship with the heavenly Father remains intact, but you lose the enjoyment of that relationship by losing fellowship with God. Fellowship can very easily be restored, though, and the Bible tells us very specifically how to do that.

First John 1:9 tells us:

If we confess our sins, He [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Addressed to Christians

This verse has traditionally been used to bring people to Christ, and praise God for the number of people who have accepted Jesus as their Savior and Lord after hearing it. However, this verse is really addressed to Christians who have sinned, not sinners.

You may say, "Brother Price, I don't know about that. I got saved by confessing my sins."

That is not necessarily true. You probably said, "Lord, forgive me of my sins." That is not confessing your sins, because you made only a blanket statement; you did not really acknowledge anything you had done.

If you had stolen something that day, lied that day, cheated that day, and committed fornication that day, you would have had to confess the stealing, the lying, the cheating, and the fornication – and all those things separately. If you did that, you were confessing your sins.

What the Bible tells the sinner to do is repent. In other words, to turn from what he or she had been doing and be sorry enough about it to stop doing it. There is something the sinner should confess, but it is not his past sins; it is the Lordship of Jesus Christ. As Romans 10:8-10 puts it:

But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach):

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

First John 1:9 says, If we confess our sins. . . . – s-i-n-s, plural, which refers to individual acts of sin.

If John had said, "If we confess our sin . . . .," you could say, "Father, I have sinned. Forgive me," and that would take care of everything.

"Sins," again, refers to individual acts, not the condition of having a sinful nature, but the acts of sin that stem from that sinful nature. That nature is in the flesh, but it cannot do anything to you, against you, or for you unless you allow it to.

When I say you, I mean the reborn, recreated spirit-man that lives on the inside of your physical body. Since your spirit has been made a new creature in Christ Jesus, it is supposed to control your flesh and your soul, and bring them in line with the Word of God. This is what Paul means in Romans 12:1-2 when he says:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Speaking to the real man

God is talking to your spirit-man, the real you. He is telling you that your spirit-man has a body, and that it can control that body.

With that fact in mind, we need to understand that when Christians sin, they have to do something about it. Saying you will sin as a Christian is not a negative confession. It is a fact.  As a baby Christian, you are going to mess up sooner or later, just as a baby stumbles when he is learning to walk.

But thank God for His mercy, and that the Bible says: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us . . . .

This is a guarantee that Father God will forgive us if we are faithful to do what He tells us to do in His Word.

However, this does not give us license to deliberately sin, with knowledge before the fact that God will forgive us. That is a dangerous game. You cannot "play with God," especially when you know better. I really do not think the Lord lets us "off the hook" that easily. I mean, I think there has to be something inside of us that makes us want to repent first. That is the key to true repentance.

Just to say, "Lord, forgive me," does not mean the person who says it has repented. Sometimes it means only that he is sorry he got caught, not that he sinned, but that he was caught in the act. If he had not been caught, he probably would still be sinning, even though he knew what he was doing was wrong.

When you repent, there has to be a change in attitude on the inside, a change of heart, and a change of physical action. There has to be a change in lifestyle that results from that change in attitude, because when you have that change of attitude on the inside, you will cut yourself off from everything that is associated with that sin.

Don't think the devil will not bring up any urges to sin again. Don’t think that just because you have confessed it, the urge will automatically leave you. It may become stronger than ever now, and the devil will taunt you with it. The best thing to do in that case is to stand on the Word of God and get away from whatever it is the enemy is using to tempt you.

We have a relationship with God – we are the children; God is our Father. When we sin, we do not change that relationship. We are still God's children, and He is still the father. But what happens is that sin will break fellowship, and we will lose our sense of righteousness. We do not lose our righteousness, but only our sense of it. We do not feel clean or worthy anymore, so the enjoyment of our relationship is affected by our sin.

Here is an illustration of what I mean. Little Johnny is in the kitchen. He has just come in from outside. His mother is scraping her second cookie sheet full of chocolate chip cookies into the cookie jar. Johnny loves chocolate chip cookies, so he asks his mother, "May I have some chocolate chip cookies?" His mother says, "No. If you eat cookies now, you will get full on them, and you will not want to eat your dinner. Wait until after you have dinner, and then you can have some cookies for dessert."

This is not good enough for Johnny, so he keeps bugging his mom to give him some cookies now. His mom finally tells him, "Go to your room! I'm going to tell your father." Johnny bursts from the kitchen, goes into his room, slams the door, and he's in tears. What has happened? The relationship between Johnny and his mother has not changed, but the enjoyment of that relationship -- fellowship -- is broken.

Getting things straight

A little while later, Johnny hears a car pull up in the driveway. He knows that means dad is home. If he does not get things straight between he and mom, mom is going to tell dad. Dad will come to Johnny's room, and Johnny will really have some problems. So Johnny opens the door, and walks into the kitchen. He dries the last few tears from his eyes, and says, "Mommy." Mommy says, "Yes, Johnny?" And he says, "I'm sorry." And Mommy reaches out, grabs the little dude and hugs him, and gives him a big kiss. Now what has happened? Fellowship has been restored.

As I said before, because of an act of sin, fellowship is interrupted, and the person who has sinned has a sense of unrighteousness. All that person has to do if he is ready to repent is to confess that sin to God. God forgives him and cleanses him from all unrighteousness. The way God cleanses us from all unrighteousness is by forgiving us. When He forgives us we are cleansed.

Here is where faith comes in. If you are not careful, you can commit a sin, and feel so bad about it that, when you finish confessing that sin and asking God to forgive you, you will go away emotionally and psychologically not feeling any different than before you asked God to forgive you. If you go by that feeling instead of by faith, it will leave an avenue open for doubt to creep in and for Satan to have a field day playing with your mind. You can unwittingly leave that avenue open for weeks, months, or years, because you expect to feel differently when God forgives you.

You have to take God at His Word. He said If. That is the qualifier, the fine print in the contract. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us. We are forgiven because God says we are. What or how we feel is irrelevant and immaterial.

When you have confessed your sin, you have to believe you are forgiven, then start acting like you are forgiven. Once you start acting like you are forgiven, it will engender a different feeling in you psychologically and emotionally. God is not a liar. The Bible says it is impossible for God to lie. If He said, If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us, then bless God, if you have sinned and have confessed that sin, you are forgiven.

One of the biggest problems people have, in addition to not believing God has forgiven them, is not forgiving themselves. They still think they have to feel guilty about what they did to be acceptable to God.

You have to forgive yourself. God forgives you, and then He says, Their sins and lawless deeds I will remember no more (Hebrews 10:17). This makes it bad taste to bring that act of sin up to God again.

Think about this: God is omniscient, which means He knows everything. If God is God, there is no way He could forget anything accidentally. Therefore, God's forgiving and forgetting is strictly an act of His will; once He forgives you, He chooses not to remember it, and considers the matter closed. This is exactly what we should do once God forgives us. Forget it -- it's over. If you do not do that, it will keep you in bondage. Do not lose so much as one step. Just keep going; walk in line with God's Word, and do not even bother to break stride.
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