It has always been my understanding that if we die in sin without asking for forgiveness beforehand, we go to hell. For example, if I’ve lived in obedience to God all my life, but on the day I die I sinned and didn’t ask God for forgiveness, I’d go to hell. Is that right? Now I look at it, and it seems like I’m counting on my righteousness to gain entry into heaven. If a believer sins (as we sometimes do) and dies without asking for forgiveness beforehand, does he/she go to hell?
The Last Word
Dear The Last Word,
Your confusion is a common one because the Bible never explicitly states what happens to the sins that we didn’t specifically ask for forgiveness for. There is no specific verse that deals with this issue; instead, we must look at some of the concepts that are scattered throughout the Scriptures.
- Jesus is our Advocate (1 Jhn 2:1-3). Jesus is our High Priest, and He mediates between us and God (1 Tim 2:5). Jesus wants to intercede for your sins, and He desires to help you get into heaven.
- God doesn’t desire anyone to be separated from Him (2 Pet 3:9). No one will ever accidentally go to hell, and no one will accidently miss out on heaven because they didn’t have an opportunity to pray for forgiveness right before they died. God is ready and willing to forgive (Ps. 86:5).
- God expects our obedience, and all forgiveness is dependent upon our willingness to draw near to Him with obedient hearts (1 Pet 1:14). The Bible says that our obedience to Him purifies our souls. God forgives the faithful and obedient servant (Heb 10:38).
- John paints a beautiful picture for us in 1 Jhn 1:7 by saying, “If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” The word ‘walk’ means ‘to live continually’, and whenever we have that relationship but we accidentally sin, the blood of Jesus continually cleanses us of our sins.
When you consider all of these concepts, the truth on the subject becomes evident; we are forgiven as we ask for forgiveness, and God gives grace in those times when we are unable or ignorant to ask for it. So continue to ask and pray for forgiveness, but you can also have peace that God’s grace will protect your soul as you do your best to live faithfully.