Atonement, expiation, propitiation, or forgiveness was always effected after the committing of the thought, word, or act, not before. The great Sacrifice was provided in the plan of the Eternal for the salvation of mankind even before man's creation. Man being created a free moral agent, would be confronted with the possibility of making a wrong choice, and consequent failure. Adam and Eve were not automatons or robots. Their obedience and loyalty to their Creator, which would ensure their happiness and joy, were to be based not on compulsion but on love and gratitude.
When sin entered into the experience of mankind it was possible to obtain forgiveness and salvation by an act of faith in accepting God's provision for redemption. This faith was demonstrated in offerings that were symbolic of the great sacrifice to be made on Calvary. The death of Christ on the cross provided a vicarious, meritorious, and all-sufficient sacrifice for all men in all times.
Forgiveness and restoration come not as an indulgence, or forgiveness in advance of sinning, but by repentance and acceptance of the Saviour's sacrifice on Calvary after the sinful act, word, or thought (Rom. 3: 23-25). These are comprised in what is commonly referred to in the Scriptures as the atonement. Even before the crucifixion of Christ, but after men had become conscious of their mistakes, they obtained forgiveness by faith in the divine Sacrifice still to be effected on Calvary. We who live this side of the glorious cross must accept Christ by faith and ask for forgiveness (see 1 John 1:9).
Christ's sacrifice was made once and for all time, even for the future unborn generations (see Heb. 10:10; 9:25, 26, 28). The provision for forgiveness was made for all sinners if they would by faith accept it. Atonement, which includes reconciliation and restoration to divine favor, is readily available if men will recognize and accept the salvation so graciously provided.
Christ ministers in the heavenly sanctuary in behalf of all who turn to Him. He now officiates as high priest. From the analogy of the sanctuary system, which was patterned after the heavenly, we recall it was the high priest who on the Day of Atonement cleansed the sanctuary of all the confessed sins of the Hebrew nation that had accumulated for a year. Provisional forgiveness had been provided in the recurring sacrifices made previously during the year. Along with the confession of sins by the individual and his repentance is the concurrent ministration and intercession of Christ in heaven (see Heb. 7:25). We confess. Christ forgives (see 1 John 1:9). Our blessed Saviour is understanding and sympathetic of our weakness and straying from the true path of service and devotion. "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace" (Heb. 4:14-16).
Forsaking sin, we are called into an experience of divine restoration and fellowship (see 1 john 1:3, 7). This is the path of loving obedience and sanctified living for the redeemed to walk in. The proper response of the individual to the provisions of divine grace is essential to the appropriation of the benefits of the sacrifice of Calvary, which the living Christ makes effective by His continuing ministry and intercession