How will sin affect a believer when he gets to heaven?

If a Christian falls into sin for a longer or shorter period, and is restored to communion through confession, will this entail loss in eternity, or will all be forgiven and forgotten at the Judgment Seat of Christ?

It seems very important to distinguish between God’s government and God’s grace. When a sinner is led to repentance and faith in Christ, he is forgiven all iniquities: he possesses eternal life; he “shall not come into judgment, but is passed from death unto life.” (John 5: 24). He is a child of God. He is “in Christ Jesus” and there is “no condemnation” to him; this is grace.

But if he sins as a child of God, whether for a longer or shorter period, it will lead to chastening in one form or other. This is government. He needs the forgiveness of the Father and it is for such a circumstance that the advocacy of Christ exists: “If any man (i.e. Christian) sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1). This advocacy produces conviction by the Spirit, confession and restoration, and “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). This again is grace. But though forgiven and cleansed, it does not follow that the effect of the sin is at once removed governmentally.

David confessed his sin and was straightway forgiven, but the Lord dealt with him governmentally in three ways:
“the sword would never depart from his house,” the child would die, and he would receive the same treatment he had meted out to others (2 Samuel 12:1 - ). So that though sins are forgiven and forgotten in one sense, they are not in another. The time that the soul is away from God, is lost time, for it is fruitless. What has been occupied in sin and self-will, might have been filled with service and fruit for God. The believer stands in different relations to God and Christ. He is not only a member of Christ, a child of God and a temple of the Spirit, but he is a steward, a servant, a builder, etc., to the Lord. If his “work be burnt up he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire” (1 Corinthians 3:15); that “everyone may receive the things done in his body according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10). It seems very hard to believe that this will not entail an eternal difference. Some are preparing themselves for a high position in the millennial and everlasting kingdoms, which others could not possibly fill, owing to their unbelief, self-will or disobedience to the Lord’s commands.

William Hoste