Have you ever considered why Jesus would include a request for the forgiveness of sin in a daily prayer He was teaching His disciples? I can fully understand why we would be asking for daily bread because up until the past 200 years, bread was a daily need and didn’t come with an expiration date weeks away. Daily requesting that God’s will be done and His kingdom to come also makes a lot of sense. But why a daily prayer of forgiveness? Does Jesus expect His followers to sin each and every day? Do we need to be saved each and every day again and again?
I would love to say that there is an easy answer, but this is where Christians come up with slightly different answers. Here is how I answer the questions: No, Jesus doesn’t expect His followers to sin each and every day intentionally. No, we don’t lose our salvation when we sin, requiring us to get saved each and every day. Yes, Christians do sin, intentionally and unintentionally, more than we would like to admit. Yes, when we sin, we should confess those sins to God and repent (which means turn around and walk the other way).
Before a person places their faith (trust/belief/confidence) in Christ and His sacrifice for their sins, they need God’s forgiveness. They are not HIS. They don’t belong to Him. They are estranged from Him, separated, and as the scriptures say, dead in their sins. When they respond to God’s offer of grace and trust in Christ, His blood covers over the guilt of their sins. They move from death to life and are now adopted into the family of God and become a child of God. This is the initial prayer of forgiveness and trust that we encourage people to pray to begin their walk with God. This is what we call saving forgiveness.
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Romans 10:13 (NIV)
Once we are saved, we begin the process of learning how to live out our new lives in Christ. There are some sinful habits and actions that are easily left behind, but some require more time and maturity in Christ to overcome. There are sins that we know our sins, and yet we still choose to give in to temptation (sins of commission). There are other sins we commit unintentionally and may offend someone or hurt someone. The wrong is still a reality even if we didn’t intend it. Or we may know the good thing we should do but don’t do it (sins of omission).
If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
James 4:17 (NIV)
Jesus offers us a moment of confession every day where we can acknowledge our sins of commission and omission, not so that we can be “saved” but because we are saved and being saved. The Apostle John puts it this way in his letter to the churches.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9 (NIV)
Notice what is written to us in this verse.
- IF we confess our sins, that is an action on our part. “IF” reminds us that we may not.
- God is faithful, just, and will forgive us. Even though we aren’t faithful, God always is. Justice still requires God to pay for our sins, which Christ did for us. God will forgive because Christ has purchased our forgiveness.
- God will purify us from all unrighteousness. This is the part where God will continue to cleanse us and train us to follow Him more faithfully (this is a process Christians call sanctification).
Praying for forgiveness isn’t a license to keep on repeating the same sins over and over and over and over again. Our sin grieves God and should grieve us. But when we do sin, and we do, we have a God who is ready and willing to not only forgive us but to continue His cleansing work in our hearts and lives. God’s disposition towards you is as a loving heavenly Father. He knows that sin always comes with a price tag. Sin always has a gotcha, and God doesn’t want it to getcha.
So what are the sins you are struggling with today? We live in a day and age of self-esteem, and we don’t like to consider our faults. But in this prayer, God is offering us an open invitation to confess them to Him because He has something better for us. You were so valuable that Jesus gave up His life for you. You don’t have to fear coming to Him with your faults and sins. God already knows them and loves you anyway. Take some time for confession today.