Unconditional Love and Repentance

by Rayola Kelley

Q: A church I used to attend taught that once a person accepts Christ as his or her personal savior, any sins they commit in the future are already forgiven because of God’s unconditional love. Does that mean a Christian who commits a sin doesn’t need to repent and seek forgiveness? 

A: Perhaps your former church taught such a concept, but the Bible does not. Sin breaks fellowship with a holy God no matter what spiritual status, saved or unsaved, a person may reside in. God’s love towards each of us has been freely expressed by the redemptive work of Jesus’ on the cross, but it is not unconditional. We must receive His love when we embrace the gift of His life. From that point, His love should be motivating us in all we do. As Jesus stated, if you love Him, you will obey His commandments, not discard or show contempt towards them in disobedient actions (John 14:15).

       Although salvation is a free gift of God, it does not give us a free ticket to live any old way we desire. Such an attitude implies we are deluding ourselves that we are on our way to heaven, when we, in fact, are still walking in the ways of death, destruction and hell. Scripture bears this out. The Apostle says of such a notion about continuing in sin, “God forbid” (Romans 6:1-2). The Apostle John stated that those who sin transgress the Law of God (1 John 3:4). He goes on to say: “Whosoever is born of God doeth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” (1 John 3:9-10)

       It is obvious that if a person is truly born from above, he or she will not be comfortable with sin. Such a person will feel the strong conviction of the Spirit upon his or her life when in sin. As a result, he or she will come back to Jesus as their advocate and once again seek the necessary forgiveness from God to ensure reconciliation with Him (1 John 1:9; 2:1-2).

       The redemption of Christ is all about dealing with the issue of sin. He came to set us free from the dictates and consequences of sin. It amazes me that those who refer to themselves as Christians would consider for one moment that His redemption means that individuals can continue in the very sin that cost Him His life. Jesus’ redemption deals with every aspect of sin. He died for our past sins, while the Spirit was given to us to empower us to be victorious over the present sins that could so easily beset us in our flesh. This is why we must learn to walk in the Spirit according to the righteousness of God. In doing so it will ensure that we will be saved from the future wrath of God that will be directed at all disobedience.

       At this point, all I can advise you to do is to beware of those who imply that as Christians we are not responsible to conduct ourselves in honorable ways. Such an implication cheapens the work of redemption and the grace of God. If a person is truly saved, he or she will possess Christian love and unfeigned faith. Godly love compels believers to do right, while sincere faith will always manifest itself in obedience. Remember, people are known by their fruits, not their titles.