A1Another area where dangerous doctrines have been introduced today, is in the “forgiveness of sin.”  In various churches, there is a claim that only their men/their leaders have the ability to forgive sins.  The Pope for instance is thought to have the power to forgive someone’s sin.  Upon his declaration, many truly believe that their sin is forgiven, even though they may or may not have repented of their sin.  Where does this belief come from?  Again, these doctrines are formed when taking one or two bible verses out of context without measuring them against the entire testimony of the bible.  For us to be able to understand the work of Yahweh, we have to consider the whole word and testimony that is available to us to present the full picture.  The reason that there are so many denominations today is merely due to this type of practice- taking bible verses out of context.  First let’s briefly establish what “sin” is:

“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” ~ 1 John 3:4

“…I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” ~ Romans 7:7

You can see here that sin is to transgress the law of God.  The law of God according to Yeshua in Matthew 5:18-19 will not pass away until heaven and earth pass away, and disobeying the law is sin.  The bible text used by many church leaders today claiming authority to forgive sin can be found in the book of John:

“And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.” ~ John 20:22-23

These words when considered alone are very powerful.  One gets the initial impression that these Apostles could declare that anyone’s sins are forgiven, and it would be so.  The problem with this assumption, is that when examining the remainder of the scriptural testimony of the Apostles, not once did they declare to any soul that by their power “your sins are forgiven.”  If these men had this ability to forgive sins, why didn’t they go out and declare this to all men, the Pharisees included?  The Pharisees were sinners in need of forgiveness, just like anyone else. There is record of Jesus actively forgiving the sins of men face to face:

“And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.” ~ Matthew 9:2-6 

“And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four. And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay. When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. But there was certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts? Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,)” ~ Mark 2:3-10

(Same Story) “And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.” ~ Luke 5:20

A5You can see here, that the Jews of the time knew that “Only God can forgive sins,” and for this reason they accused Yeshua of blasphemy not knowing that he was the Word made flesh.  Jesus lets them know that “the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins.”  Notice that these verses all confirm that He “saw their faith”, and when He saw their faith, He forgave their sin.  Faith in Christ in this case was a prerequisite for the believer to receive this healing and forgiveness.  He claimed complete power to forgive sins on the earth for Himself.  Jesus also gave many examples explaining forgiveness of sin.  First he tells us that another prerequisite to receive THE FATHER’S forgiveness is that we must forgive those that have trespassed against us:

But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” ~ Matthew 6:15

Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven” ~ Luke 6:37

But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” ~ Mark 11:26

Another example shows how Yeshua corrected His disciples for their unjust judgment of Mary.  He revealed to us that Mary whose “sins were many”, were forgiven her because she “loved much.”  She approached Yeshua to kiss his feet and to anoint His feet with oil, while none of the disciples had made that same loving effort towards Yeshua.  He also reveals in this example that those who “loveth little,” will also receive little forgiveness:

Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.” ~ Luke 7:45-50

Jesus reveals to us not only that a condition of forgiveness is “repentence”, but tells us that if a brother sins against us and repents repeatedly, to forgive him over and over again:

“Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.” ~ Luke 17:3-4

A4We can summarize from the teachings of Christ that the conditions of forgiveness are #1- Faith, #2- Loving much, #3- Repentance, and #4- We must forgive others.  This is the teaching that Yeshua gave us with regards to forgiveness.  We know that Jesus Himself had the power to forgive sins on earth, and we know that it was biblically understood that only God could forgive sins (Jesus was the Word of God made Flesh).  This understanding spans back into the Old Testament as well.  Looking at the ministry of the original Apostles, you won’t find even one single example where one of them declared to someone of their own power “your sins are forgiven.”  What you do find is a significant amount of testimony on the doctrine they preached.  Jesus explains in detail- their purpose, the importance that they understand the scriptures, and the doctrine they were to preach- which was “Repentance” and “Remission of Sins”:

“And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things.” ~ Luke 24:44-48

First note, the Apostles were to be witnesses of Christ’s resurrection.  Their duty was to preach repentance and remission of sins among ALL NATIONS.  Preaching repentance and remission of sins, is very different than forgiving someone’s sin as Christ did.  Repentance is the key of the Apostle doctrine, in that they had to teach men to turn back to obedience to God and His commandments.  It involved a change of heart in the believer.  You can find numerous examples in scripture where the Apostles revealed the works of their ministry:

“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” ~ Acts 2:38

What a significant verse here that reveals the ministry of Peter.  Again, he preached to them “Repent” first- meaning turn away from your disobedience to God’s law.  He then instructed “Be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.”  This ministry echoed that of the Old Testament prophets, John the Baptist, and Jesus in it’s simple message- repent!  Now we come to another example of Peter’s ministry, where Peter comes upon a man that was sick with palsy.  Does he declare, as Jesus declared in Mark 2:3-10 “son thy sin be forgiven thee?”

“And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy. And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately. And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord.” ~ Acts 9:33-35

Recognize that Peter was firstly commissioned by Christ Himself to be a witness of His life, death and resurrection.  Having said this, Peter did not declare to this man “son thy sins be forgiven thee.”  Rather he declared “Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed.”  Peter made known the source of forgiveness which was Yeshua.  There is a stark difference between the ministry of Jesus, and the ministry of the Apostles.  Jesus carried all power in heaven and in earth.  The Apostles were witnesses to His power and glory, so spreading the good news.  The good news of Peter was not “I can forgive your sins because I’m an Apostle.”  The good news of Peter was to testify that whoever believes in the name of Jesus Christ and repents, shall receive remission of sins:

“And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” ~ Acts 10

A6Notice here that the Apostles were commanded to “preach”, and to “testify” of Christ, who is the judge and forgiver.  He did not command them to to take the place of Christ, or become a High Priest in Christ’s stead.  This reveals that the forgiveness of sins is received by those that through his name believe in Him and repent.  We receive forgiveness from Christ, not from the Apostle.  The conditions that we find in scripture that are required to receive forgiveness are again repentance and belief in Jesus Christ.  When we sin, there is a huge separation that comes between us and the Father.  Sin means to disobey the law of God, and when this happens man isolates himself from the guidance of God.  When man repents of this disobedience and changes their heart, they can approach Yeshua in prayer for forgiveness making a giant leap from the condition of “separated from God”, to the condition of “fellowship with God and eternal life.”  Yeshua is the forgiver, Yeshua is the healer, Yeshua is the sanctifier.

“And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” ~ Acts 26:15-18

You can see here that Paul was not given the power to forgive sin.  Rather he was given the duty to act as a minister of the truth and light, and as a witness to what Christ had shown him.  In his preaching the truth, men would be turned from darkness towards the light so that they would “receive forgiveness of sins.”  The believer would become “sanctified” by faith that was in Christ.  This is the ministry of the Apostle of the New Testament.  To teach men that love is light, and when we love, not only do we forgive others, but Yeshua forgives our sin and sanctifies us, causing us to walk in the spirit free from sin according to His commandments.

He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes. I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake. I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.” ~ 1 John 2:10-13

These children were forgiven “because ye have known the Father.”  What does it mean to “know the Father?”

“And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” ~ 1 John 2:3 

Peter mentions that Yeshua died to bring us to repentance, and to give us forgiveness of sins.  He also tells us who receives the Holy Ghost.  Today there are doctrines that teach that the Holy Ghost is given by the authority of a man/leader.  Peter tells us that God gives the Holy Spirit to “them that obey Him.”:

“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.” ~ Acts 5:30-32

A3This next example truly reveals that Peter did not exercise the authority to forgive sins.  In the example below, a man wanted to purchase the ability to give the Holy Spirit by laying on of hands.  Peter admonishes him to repent of this wickedness, and to “Pray to God, if perhaps the thoughts of his heart may be forgiven him.”  This reveals that forgiveness is a matter between the heart of man, and God.  Ask yourself “Why didn’t Peter forgive this man’s sin?”  He rather directed the man to examine his own heart and approach the Father in heaven for forgiveness.  Peter did preach repentence to him though:

“But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.” ~ Acts 8:20-22

We learn from scripture that through Christ, forgiveness of sins is preached unto us.  Note, this didn’t come through the Apostle, rather it came through Christ who died for our sins and sits with the Father in heaven interceding for us.  We are also told to heed the word of the Old Testament prophets (again whose message was “repent and return to obedience to God” or you will be destroyed):

“For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption. Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets ~ Acts 13:36-40

 The New Testament reveals exactly who the forgiver is:

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” ~ Ephesians 4:32

“In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins ~ Colossians 1:14

“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses ~ Colossians 2:13

“Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace ~ Ephesians 1:5-7

A9Over and over again, the Apostles preach the forgiveness of sins that comes from Yeshua through His blood to those that repent.  They constantly directed the believer to Christ, to a relationship with Him, and repentance from the heart towards Him.  They truly preached as witnesses of the resurrection, repentance, and remission of sins.  Again, this is very different than forgiving ones sins.  Sin means to disobey God’s law (Romans 7:7), and when one sins, it is against God.  Because it is against God, He is the one that we must approach (through Christ) in repentance so that our sins can be forgiven.  Present day doctrines adding another “High Priest” in the form of a present day priest, Pope, Apostle etc. is unbiblical.  The scriptures tell us that Jesus is our High Priest now, and He is the only one that intercedes between us and God.  Remember under the Old Covenant, they were given a High Priest from the tribe of Levi, and his duty was to offer up the sacrifices on behalf of the people, and once a year on the Day of Atonement, he was to enter into the most holy place interceding for the sins of Israel.  We can read in the book of Hebrews, that Yeshua is now our only High Priest and we go to Him directly and boldly to find grace, mercy and forgiveness.  Note that it mentions we come unto God by Yeshua (not the Pope, Priest or Apostle):

“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” ~ Hebrews 4:14-16

“And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” ~ Hebrews 7:23-25

“But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” ~ Hebrews 9:11-12

A8Those that have added doctrines that add additional mediators to the New Covenant are dangerous and false.  There is one mediator, Christ.  The Apostles testified to us about who our new mediator and High Priest was- Yeshua.  The claims made of this power to forgive sins by churches today is vanity.  In Catholicism, they even teach that you must go to a priest to confess your sins regularly.  The scriptures indicate not that we confess our sins to a priest behind a curtain, rather that we confess our sins to each other, pray for one another and repent of our sin.  This confession is more for the purpose to receive guidance and support from the congregation/body of Christ:

“Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” ~ James 5:14-16

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

Dangerous forgiveness doctrines have lead to a “revolving door” in the churches to forgiveness of sins.  Members commit sin, come to their churches where men claim authority to forgive their sins, they believe their sins are forgiven, and they go back out into the world feeling they are forgiven having not changed or repented in any way in their hearts.  They continue walking in sin, a prisoner to it if you will.  The gospel of Christ was not intended to keep people as prisoners to sin.  The gospel of Christ was brought to break the chains of sin completely, and to transform the hearts of men.  The only way that this transformation happens, is when one approaches Yeshua Himself with a truly repentant heart.  This is where sinful men become overcomers walking free from sin, in obedience to the commandments of the Father out of love for God and neighbor, and faith in the promised inheritance of eternal life through Yeshua.  Seek the High Priest, approach Him and repent!  Remember that the conditions of forgiveness are faith, loving much, true repentance for our disobedience to God’s law, and forgiving those that have trespassed against us.  If we can do these things, we are ready to approach the Father through the Son for forgiveness and baptism for the remission of our sins.  We pray that all people can truly examine themselves in the light of the commandments of God, and establish a relationship with Yeshua our High Priest through repentance today.  Don’t get caught in the revolving door to sin- remember the warning of Paul:

“For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” ~ Hebrews 10:26-29