So I’ve got a guy on Facebook telling me that when the Bible says that all our sins are forgiven (Col. 2:13), this necessarily means that even our future sins are forgiven. He wants me to show him a verse that says “not my future sins.”
This is ridiculous, of course. Imagine that your credit card company comes to you and says, “We forgive you all your debts.” Would you even consider the possibility that they mean all your future debts too, so that you can now go out and charge whatever you want on your card without having to pay for it?
Of course you wouldn’t. In the same way, it is silly to suggest that when Jesus forgave all our sins that all our future sins are forgiven too, whether we repent or not.
Another example is a humorous one. Back in Martin Luther’s day a Roman Catholic by the name of Johann Tetzel was selling indulgences, promising people that if they gave money to the church, their relatives would be released from Purgatory. A thief came up to Tetzel and asked if his donation would lead to the forgiveness of his own sins. Johann assured him that it would. The thief then asked if the donation would forgive future sins. Again Tetzel assured him. The thief gladly gave him the money, and that night he stole it back.
Johann Tetzel is real, though that particular story almost certainly is not. Nonetheless, it illustrates the foolishness of assuming that the forgiveness of all debts or all sins includes future ones.
It is the aforementioned Facebook person who needs to show that future sins are forgiven in some verse somewhere because Colossians 2:13 does not say, imply, or hint that our future sins are forgiven. Instead, 2 Peter 1:9 tells us that if we do not add to our faith (v. 5), then we will forget that we were ever purged from our PAST sins.
This person is making a further mistake in thinking that Colossians 2:13 says that our sins are “paid for.” Colossians 2:13 says that they are forgiven, not paid for. In fact, that verse uses an unusual word for “forgive.” The Greek word is charizomai, which is the word for grace (Gr. charis) used as a verb. “Forgive” here carries the idea of favor and compassion, not payment.
Jesus died for us, not God. God was merciful from the beginning. He IS love. A loving person forgives, and a loving God also forgives. The problem we had was that we were not a repentant race. We kept sinning, and God’s forgiveness is for those who repent (cf. Ex. 34:6; Ezek. 18:20-30). Therefore, Jesus died for US. He purged us of our iniquity, and purchase us as a people for his own possession. His grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and his death makes us a people zealous for good works (Tit. 2:11-14).
Jesus did not have to “pay” for sins. He had to pay for us. He redeemed us, as in buying us out of a slave market. He ransomed us, as in buying us back from a captor. He did become a curse for us, so that we are no longer subject to the Law of Moses (Gal. 3:13), but we Gentiles were never subject to the Law of Moses anyway. It was the law God put in our conscience that condemned us (Rom. 2).
All of us, Jew and Gentile, were the captives of sin. He redeemed us from that captivity, and he gives us grace (Rom. 6:14; Tit. 2:11-12), the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:3-13; Gal. 5, 6:7-9), the Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16-17), and each other (Heb. 3:13; 10:24-25) to ensure we never slip back into slavery to sin. Nonetheless, even as Christians, we are warned that we are slaves to whomever we yield ourselves to obey, whether sin leading to death or obedience leading to holiness and its end, eternal life (Rom. 6:16-22).
As a final note, I would be surprised if no one noticed that I ended my reference to Romans 6 at verse 22. Let me address verse 23.
The wages of sin is death, and that is true for Christians or non-Christians (cf. Rom. 6:1-22 & Rom. 8:12). The gift (Gr. charisma as in a spiritual gift, not a birthday present) of God is eternal life, referring back to verses 16-22. Paul did not suddenly change his theology in between verse 22, where eternal life is the goal of holiness, and verse 23 when eternal life is the gift of God. Eternal life is the gift of God because he delivered us from slavery to sin, so that we could yield our members to him as instruments of righteousness, which leads to holiness, which has as an end eternal life (cf. also Heb. 12:14).
If you are at all honest, you have to admit I am just reading Romans 6 and Colossians 2:13 for what they say.