As a matter of fact, I’ve actually been sinning for quite some time now. Some of my sins are private, some of them are public, but what’s for sure about all of my sins is that they are things that break the heart of God. Sin is every thought, action and attitude that goes against what God wants for his creation. It includes the things that I do that are wrong and the things I neglect to do that are right. (James 4:17)
Because of my sin, I have asked God to forgive me many times in my life. In fact, I grew up believing that every time a Christian sins, they need to ask God to forgive them for that specific sin or else it will remain unforgiven. No one specifically told me this. I guess I just somehow picked up this idea and since I was a boy, I have always tried to ask God to forgive me, every time I sin. We are certainly called to ask our brothers and sisters to forgive us when we sin against them, but I have come to find some problems with this view when it comes to me asking God to forgive me.
“I grew up believing that every time a Christian sins, they need to ask God to forgive them for that specific sin or else it will remain unforgiven…I have come to find some problems with this view”
Practical Problem with this view
The first problem is a practical one. I’ve sinned so many times in my life that I know I can’t possibly keep track with the actual number. What happens to those sins that I have forgotten to ask forgiveness for and can no longer remember? I’ve also sinned at times unaware that what I was doing was wrong. How would I be able to be forgiven of those sins if I never got the chance to ask forgiveness for them? Even though our prayers of confession in the Church allow room for the sins we don’t remember, this still led to much worry, guilt and anxiety in some of my years as a younger Christian.
Theological Problem with this view
The second problem I have with this view is a theological one. The New Testament scriptures are strong in their claim that when Jesus died on the cross to forgive our sins it was indeed powerful enough to forgive all of our sins, past, present and future. This is part of what is so significant about Jesus’ words on the cross as he cried out “it is finished!” on that terrible Friday (John 19:30). Hebrews 10:14 also says “for by one sacrifice [Jesus] has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” This passage and many others like it, indicate that the loving sacrifice of Jesus was ACTUALLY sufficient to forgive every single sin of all who put their faith in him. This forgiveness is not just for the sins that we remember or the sins that we ask forgiveness for, it’s for everything!
Why I Stopped Asking God to Forgive Me
This truth of the gospel and forgiveness has begun to transform the way that I pray when I am caught up in sin. If it really is good news that Jesus has forgiven me, then it should bring freedom to my prayer life and not more guilt. So whereas I used to pray asking God IF he WOULD forgive me each individual time I sinned; now what I do instead is confess my sins to God and give him thanks because on the cross he already DID forgive my every sin. I don’t think Christians need to ask God, “Will you forgive me of such and such sin?”, because God has given us the answer to that question, as an affirmative “YES, I already did!.”
“Now what I do instead is confess my sins to God and give him thanks because on the cross he already DID forgive my every sin.”
Which prayer below is more like what you pray when you know you’ve sinned?
- Prayer 1: Dear God, I sinned today. I’m so sorry, Lord. Will you please forgive me? Please? Amen
- Prayer 2: Dear God, I sinned today. I’m so sorry, Lord. I believe you have already forgiven me and I am so grateful that you still call me your child. Please help me to learn to renounce this sin, to heal from this and to grow in my walk with you. Amen
Why I Still Confess My Sin to God
I no longer feel the need to ask God to forgive my every sin. But I still believe that we should confess our sins to God. This opens the door for healing in our lives and acknowledges what great a price has been paid for us to be forgiven. Sin is an assault on my relationship with God and is a denial of his place as Lord over my life. When I confess my sin, I am admitting to God that I have gone against his loving will for my life and I am owning my responsibility for my wrong doings. When I confess to God I am also restoring the honor and the dignity that belongs to him alone as my Creator and Savior who went to great lengths to forgive me.
This week begins the season of lent. This is where the Church remembers what Christ has done in the events leading up to his arrest, trial and crucifixion for the salvation of the world. During the coming weeks of Lent, I pray that we would take time to reflect on these realities of Jesus’ power in our lives.
May we spend time in confession before our Creator,
May we say yes to the healing that still pours from the cross,
May we say yes to the new life that still radiates from the empty tomb,
May we live more into the forgiveness of Christ than ever before,
May we let our prayer life reflect what God has already done for us in Christ,
May we grow in really believing his words when he said, “Your sins are forgiven”