For the born-again child of God, there is no unforgivable sin. The believer’s sin was forgiven at the cross, and there is no longer any condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1).
“God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17). Throughout His ministry, Jesus bestowed the marvelous and surprising forgiveness of God. Zacchaeus (Luke 19), the sinful woman in Simon’s house (Luke 7), the paralytic in Galilee (Luke 5)—all of them were forgiven by the Lord. It didn’t matter what they had done; God was able to forgive. “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said, “the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom” (Matthew 21:31).
Jesus’ statement from the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30), means that the penalty for sin is paid in full. The word translated “it is finished” is one word in the Greek: tetelestai. This is a wonderful word. Tetelestai was stamped on receipts to mark them as “paid in full.” And when a convicted criminal had completed his sentence and was freed from prison, a sign saying “tetelestai” was nailed to the door of his house as a token that he no longer owed a debt to society.
The Lord Jesus Christ became our sacrifice for sin and “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). His was the perfect sacrifice (Hebrews 9:14). The promise to those who believe in Christ is that every sin they’ve ever committed or will commit is forgiven. “The blood of Jesus . . . purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7, emphasis added). First Corinthians 6:9–10 lists a variety of scandalous sins that had at one time characterized the Corinthian believers. Paul uses that list to lead up to this truth: “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (verse 11). Their sin was gone, removed from them “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12).
It is important to understand the condition of God’s forgiveness of sin. We can come to God only through the Lord Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). God’s forgiveness is available to all who receive Jesus (John 3:16; Acts 10:43), but for those who reject the Lord Jesus there is no forgiveness or remission of sin (1 John 5:12). God will forgive all sin in Christ. For those not in Christ there is no forgiveness: “Whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them” (John 3:36).
John wrote his first epistle to born-again believers, and he included this promise: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). We all sin (1 John 1:8). But, when we do, God’s grace stands ready to forgive His children and restore the fellowship.
The if at the beginning of 1 John 1:9 indicates a condition: if we “confess.” This word in the Greek is homologia (literally, “same word”), and it means “to say the same thing.” To confess our sin means that we agree with God about it. God’s forgiveness does not give us carte blanche to continue sinning. We do not treat grace so lightly (Romans 6:1–2); rather, a born-again believer who is walking in fellowship with God will be sensitive to sin and quick to confess it to the Lord.
One of the most wonderful truths of Scripture is that God freely forgives sin. Because God’s grace is infinite, there is no limit to the sin God is willing to forgive in Christ. No sin is beyond the reach of God’s grace. “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more” (Romans 5:20). The apostle Paul was “a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man” before his salvation (1 Timothy 1:13). He called himself the chief of sinners, but after he found the grace of God, he said, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst” (1 Timothy 1:15). If God can save Paul, He can save anyone.
Please also read our articles on the unpardonable/unforgivable sin, also known as the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.