Understanding What Forgiveness of Sins Means, I Find the Way to Escape Sin
By Ramadi, Philippines
As a Christian who has believed in the Lord for years, I’ve often heard pastors say in their sermons, “Believers such as us have been redeemed of our sins and are absolved. When the Lord returns He will rapture us directly into the kingdom of heaven.” But while I was impatiently waiting for the Lord Jesus to return and take us into the kingdom of heaven, something happened that was particularly painful and confusing for me.
After I became a believer, even though I frequently read the Scripture, prayed, and attended gatherings, a quandary for me was that I often found myself unable to uphold the Lord’s teachings in my day-to-day life. I well knew that the Lord instructed us to love our neighbor as ourselves and to forgive others seventy times seven times, but every time my husband wouldn’t listen to me or someone around me did something I didn’t like, I couldn’t help but get mad. Even though I would feel guilty and remorseful and would frequently pray to the Lord and confess, whenever I encountered another situation I still just couldn’t control myself. Plus I couldn’t overcome the temptations of being drawn in, enticed by the trends of the world — I always pursued worldly trends. I was enamored with beautiful clothing and makeup and was constantly thinking about buying stuff and going window shopping. My heart was completely taken over with material pleasures and I spent more time on that sort of thing than I did on my devotionals or reading the Scripture. After a while I even got to the point where I felt less and less like reading the Bible, and I didn’t really want to go to church services, either. I knew that the Lord doesn’t like that kind of behavior, so in an effort to not continue down that path of depravity I forced myself to read the Bible and look for sermons online. But even though I stuck to my plan, I just wasn’t enjoying it at heart, and my life grew distant from the Lord’s words. I reached out to my church friends about this as well, but everyone just said that as long as I prayed more, He would show me mercy and love, that He would forgive and pardon our sins. I didn’t feel any relief from their answers because it’s stated very clearly in the Bible: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:26). If the Lord would forgive us without limits like everyone said, as long as we pray to the Lord our sins would be forgiven, so why does the Bible say that if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there will be no more sacrifice for sins? Without sacrifice for sins how could we enter into the kingdom of heaven? I just couldn’t make heads or tails of these questions within my heart. I was often distressed over this and prayed to the Lord, “Oh Lord, I’m living in a constant state of committing sins and then confessing those sins; I’m so troubled. What can I do to escape from sin? Where can I find the answer? Lord, please tell me what Your will in this is! Amen.”
Then in January 2018 I met a couple of sisters from China online, and by chatting with them learned that they’re very devout Christians. We talked about all sorts of things regarding faith and after a period of interaction I began to feel really close with them, that we could really open up our hearts to each other. They were also really devout in their lives and had unique understanding and insight into the Bible. Their fellowship was really illuminating and enjoyable — I really liked delving into the Scripture with them.
Once Sister Susan told me very seriously, “The Lord has already returned and He’s doing the work of the last days of judging, cleansing, and saving mankind.”
Shocked to hear this, I said, “The Lord Jesus was already crucified and redeemed us of our sins, completing His work. When the Lord returns shouldn’t He just directly bring us into the kingdom of heaven? Why would He also do the work of judgment? Could it be that His work hasn’t been completed?”
In response, Sister Lucy shared this fellowship with me: “It’s certainly true that the Lord Jesus’ work of being nailed to the cross has been completed and that we’ve been redeemed of our sins, that we are absolved. However, does redemption mean we can enter the kingdom of heaven? Let’s read a passage of God’s words, then we’ll understand. ‘Man was … forgiven his sins, but as for just how man was to be purged of the corrupt satanic dispositions within him, this work had yet to be done. Man was only saved and forgiven his sins for his faith, but the sinful nature of man was not extirpated and still remained within him. The sins of man were forgiven through the agency of the incarnate God, but this does not mean that man no longer has sin within him. The sins of man could be forgiven through the sin offering, but as for just how man can be made to sin no more, and how his sinful nature may be extirpated completely and transformed, he has no way of solving this problem. The sins of man were forgiven, and this is because of the work of God’s crucifixion, but man continued to live within the corrupt satanic disposition of old. This being so, man must be completely saved from his corrupt satanic disposition, so that his sinful nature may be completely extirpated, never to develop again, thus enabling the disposition of man to be transformed. This would require man to grasp the path of growth in life, to grasp the way of life, and to grasp the way to change his disposition. Furthermore, it would require man to act in accordance with this path, so that his disposition may gradually be changed and he may live under the shining of the light, so that all that he does may be in accord with the will of God, so that he may cast away his corrupt satanic disposition, and so that he may break free from Satan’s influence of darkness, thereby emerging fully from sin. Only then will man receive complete salvation.’”
After she read these words from God, Sister Susan fellowshiped: “We can see from God’s words that what the Lord Jesus did was the work of redemption. He absolved us of our sins, saving us from sin. Being saved just refers to no longer being condemned because we cannot uphold the law, and accepting the grace of the Lord’s salvation. It refers to becoming qualified to come before the Lord, pray to Him, confess and repent, and enjoy the grace and blessings the Lord bestows upon us. However, our sinful natures have not been taken away. We still live within a state of sinning and then confessing. For example, in our interactions with others in our daily lives, we often reveal an arrogant disposition and always want other people to listen to and submit to us. Even though we believe in the Lord, He doesn’t really have a place in our hearts. Just like always, we covet the things of the world and chase after secular trends. Some people even completely abandon God in their pursuit of worldly glory and riches, and enjoyments of the flesh. How could people like us, living in sin, be worthy of entering God’s kingdom? The Lord Jesus said, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, Whoever commits sin is the servant of sin. And the servant stays not in the house for ever: but the son stays ever’ (John 8:34–35). The Lord’s words were very clear. No servants of sin can be in God’s kingdom, so since we still frequently sin, we are not qualified to enter into God’s kingdom. This is why we still need another stage of God’s work of salvation, so that we can be cleansed of our sins and we can become compatible with God. Otherwise we cannot gain God’s approval to enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Every single word of God’s words and this sister’s fellowship deeply resonated with me. So the Lord Jesus’ work was actually just the work of redemption, for the Lord to absolve us of sin; it was the Lord’s mercy for us, to no longer see us as sinners. But that didn’t mean that we were without sin, unsullied. We still frequently sin in spite of ourselves, and this is all because we still possess sinful natures. I thought of how I interacted with my husband — I wanted him to listen to me in everything, and if he didn’t I’d lose my temper. I also went along with secular trends and my heart was occupied by material things. I couldn’t even properly attend gatherings or read the Scripture. Even though I prayed and confessed to the Lord so many times, I just kept on sinning nonstop. That was all because I was under the control of my satanic nature. No wonder Paul said this: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Romans 7:18). Our sinful natures are still deeply entrenched within us, and even if we want to practice the truth and satisfy God, we just can’t help but sin and resist God. We are full of filth and truly unworthy of entering God’s kingdom. When I realized this, I rushed to ask, “You’re saying that the Lord Jesus did the work of redemption, that when the Lord comes in the last days He’s going to do a step of work to rid us of our sins. So how will He do this work?”
Sister Susan smiled and said, “Sister, you’ve just asked a very important question. In fact, there are prophecies on this in the Bible, such as, ‘And if any man hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day’ (John 12: 47–48). ‘For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?’ (1 Peter 4:17). We can see from these Bible verses that in the last days when He comes, the Lord will express all the truths that we need so that we can understand and enter into the truth — this is a continuation of the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption, the step of the work of judgment beginning with God’s house in order to purify and perfect man. This will become clear after reading these two passages of Almighty God’s words. God’s words say, ‘The work done by God during this age is chiefly the provision of the words for the life of man, the disclosure of the substance of the nature of man and the corrupt disposition of man, the elimination of religious conceptions, feudal thinking, outdated thinking, as well as the knowledge and culture of man. This must all be laid bare and cleansed away through the words of God.’ ‘In the last days, Christ uses a variety of truths to teach man, expose the essence of man, and dissect his words and deeds. These words comprise various truths, such as man’s duty, how man should obey God, how man should be loyal to God, how man ought to live out the normal humanity, as well as the wisdom and the disposition of God, and so on. These words are all directed at the essence of man and his corrupt disposition. In particular, those words that expose how man spurns God are spoken in regard to how man is an embodiment of Satan and an enemy force against God. In undertaking His work of judgment, God does not simply make clear the nature of man with just a few words; He exposes, deals with, and prunes over the long term. These methods of exposure, dealing, and pruning cannot be substituted with ordinary words, but with the truth that man does not possess at all. Only methods of this kind are deemed judgment; only through judgment of this kind can man be subdued and thoroughly convinced into submission to God, and moreover gain true knowledge of God. What the work of judgment brings about is man’s understanding of the true face of God and the truth about his own rebelliousness. The work of judgment allows man to gain much understanding of the will of God, of the purpose of God’s work, and of the mysteries that are incomprehensible to him. It also allows man to recognize and know his corrupt substance and the roots of his corruption, as well as to discover the ugliness of man. These effects are all brought about by the work of judgment, for the substance of this work is actually the work of opening up the truth, the way, and the life of God to all those who have faith in Him. This work is the work of judgment done by God.’”
Sister Susan continued sharing her fellowship. “God’s words show us that in the last days, He uses words to do the work of judgment. All of the words expressed by Him contain God’s righteous disposition, as well as what He has and is, the mysteries of His management plan, plus His aim and will in the salvation of mankind. In addition, they express the root of people’s sinfulness and opposition to God, the truth of man’s corruption, as well as mankind’s final destination and outcome — they contain all these aspects of the truth. These are all words that provide sustenance for our lives. All those who undergo God’s work of judgment and chastisement in the last days experience God’s scrutiny of the innermost recesses of our hearts. His words are like a sharp sword, cutting through and revealing our satanic natures of betrayal against God and the despicable motives harbored in our hearts. They even expose the satanic thinking hidden deepest in our hearts that others do not know of. This shows us how deeply we’ve been corrupted by Satan, both in small ways such as our behavior and treatment of others in our lives, and in bigger ways such as our perspectives on faith and the fact that the paths we take are entirely dependent on Satan’s worldly philosophies and laws of survival. Through His words, we see we are full of arrogance, crookedness, deceit, greed, evil, selfishness, and despicableness by nature, and even those of us who believe in God do so to gain blessings, to be rewarded. We realize that it’s not at all to pursue the truth, attain life, or live out a true human likeness, and that we truly are unworthy of living before God. Then we begin to repent and hate ourselves from within our hearts. At the same time, we have a very deep experience of the authority and power of God’s words as well as His righteous, holy, and inviolable disposition; we can’t help but prostrate ourselves before God, repent to God and change our ways, and detest our own satanic natures. We thus become happy to accept God’s judgment and chastisement, put the truth into practice, and resolve to become new people to satisfy God.”
Sister Lucy said with emotion, “It’s true! We would never truly know our own corrupt dispositions, natures, and essences if it weren’t for the revelations and judgment of God’s words. We are clearly very corrupt yet still feel that we’re honorable, and we think we’re qualified to be raptured into the kingdom of heaven by the Lord. I used to always think of myself as a warm, gentle person; I never argued with anyone. And after I became a believer I was really well-behaved and did a lot of good things, so I thought I was a good person and when the Lord came, I’d be taken directly into the kingdom of heaven. But after accepting Almighty God’s work of the last days it was only through what God’s words expose that I saw with clarity that me being ‘good’ was just for show, and I wasn’t truly good. My motivation for doing those things was to gain others’ praise, to have people look up to me. The way I comported myself was to establish a perfect image in others’ eyes. Plus, I would violate the Lord’s teachings and was rebellious and hurtful to God at every turn, as well as arrogant and unwilling to listen to anyone. I would also lie and do underhanded things for my own interest. I was frequently exalting and bearing witness to myself, struggling with God for a position in people’s hearts. I was walking the path of the archangel. When I thought about this, I felt really ashamed and guilty; I detested, I hated myself. I never again bragged about how good I was, nor did I think of myself as being qualified to enter the kingdom of heaven. Instead, I became willing to genuinely, truly accept the judgment and chastisement of God’s words and cast off my corrupt disposition. It was God’s words that awoke me from my notions and imaginings, made me recognize my true state, and step onto the path of pursuing the truth and dispositional change. All of this was the fruit of God’s work of the last days.”
I was really moved by the sisters’ fellowship — it showed me that I had been clinging to my own notions and imaginings and very obviously sinning all the time but still waiting for the Lord to return and rapture me into the kingdom of heaven. That’s really unrealistic. I thank God for showing me a practical path to cast off sin through the sisters’ testimony of God’s work of judgment and their own experience. I no longer needed to suffer and feel helpless because I could not escape from sin. I believe that as long as I accept and undergo God’s work of judgment, I can be freed from sinfulness and have a chance to enter the kingdom of heaven.
I said happily, “Thanks be to the Lord! Even though I haven’t experienced Almighty God’s work of judgment yet, I can really feel God’s love and salvation for us through your experience. From now on, I’d like to communicate more with the two of you so that I can understand more about Almighty God’s work, and your own experiences and testimonies.” They were thrilled to hear this.
After a period of time of seeking, investigation, and gathering with those sisters, I came to understand more and more of the truth. I determined conclusively that Almighty God really is the returned Lord Jesus, so I very happily accepted His work of the last days — I felt so warm within my heart. I believe that God has been very gracious with me. He not only answered my prayers, but led me to hear His voice and become one of the wise virgins. Thanks be to God! All the glory be to Almighty God. Amen!
We often live in the state of sinning and confessing, and cannot put the Lord’s word into practice. So are we able to enter the kingdom of God? What are the criteria for entering the kingdom of heaven? Click to read the sermon and you’ll find the answer.