Although I had never thought of there being two kinds of forgiveness, and while it may sound ridiculous to say there are two kinds, after reading a paper from one of my favorite sources (www.middletownbiblechurch.org), it seems strange to me that I have never heard anyone preach on the subject. When we were separated from God, or at enmity with Him because of our sins, we were His enemies (Rom. 8:7; Eph. 4:18; Col. 1:21; Jam. 4:4; etc.). We needed to be reconciled to Him, but in order for reconciliation to occur, payment for our sins needed to be made (the payment required for sin is death (Rom. 6:23a). Thank God that He provided that payment for you and me by offering His Son as a sin offering for us (Heb. 9:12-10:10). God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself (2 Cor. 5:19-21). His death satisfied the requirement of death for our sin (Rom. 6:23b).
Jesus told His disciples that they were to preach both repentance and remission as they shared the Gospel in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the rest of the world (Lk. 24:47; Acts 1:8). Salvation comes to us when we believe that Jesus died for (remitted) our sins, that He was buried, and that He was raised by the Father. A genuine faith in the finished work of Christ on our behalf, automatically does two things: it results in repentance (a turning from our old way of life to follow the Lord), and it fills us with a desire to share the Good News with as many people as possible ((Rom. 10:9-10). Because Jesus has remitted our sin, our gratitude, our love, causes us to want to serve Him. Because of our love for our family, our friends, and our neighbors, we want to share Him.
The second kind of forgiveness takes place when we, as Christians, recognize we have sinned, and we confess our sins to our faithful God. He not only forgives us, He "refills us" (1 Jn. 1:8-10). We are once again righteous. Yesterday, I discussed the difference between the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and the Filling of the Holy Spirit. I said that a born-again Christian is either walking in the Spirit (filled), or he is walking in sin. There is no gray area; we are either righteous or we are unrighteous. As a result, there is no such thing as a "small sin." All sin makes us unrighteous. James said it this way, "Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all" (Jam. 2:10). When we receive the new birth, we receive the righteousness of Christ (2 Cor. 5:21). The moment we sin, we are no longer righteous, but we are unrighteous.
Does that mean we lose our relationship with God? No, we are still His children, but as our Father, He tends to make us wish we hadn't sinned. In reference to partaking of the Lord's Supper with unconfessed sin in our life, Paul warns that God will discipline us (1 Cor. 11:23-34). One of the ways a believer knows he is a child of God, is that his Father "spanks" His children (Heb. 12:5-8).
To sum up, the lost need to believe in Christ in order to be forgiven of their sins and be saved (Jn. 6:29; Acts 10:43). A Christian needs to be forgiven of his sins in order to restore fellowship between him and God (1 Jn. 1:9). When the lost are saved, they are "made clean" (Jn. 13:10; Col. 2:13). When the child of God repents, the "part of him that has touched the world" is cleansed (Jn. 13:8-10). Thank God I have experienced both kind of forgiveness!