God’s forgiveness is a powerful thing and there are a lot of misconceptions about it. There are sinners who believe asking for his forgiveness is completely unnecessary because God just automatically forgives our wrongs no matter what. Then there are people who think God can’t possibly forgive them unless they do enough good works to outweigh all the evil that they’ve done. Still others believe God will forgive them even if they ask forgiveness when they aren’t really sorry about their wrongdoing and have every purposeful intent on going right back to their sin.
Then, of course, there are individuals who deceive themselves into thinking it’s completely absurd to look to God for forgiveness since they deny sin’s existence in their lives. But without a proper understanding of the need for forgiveness and how it really works, we can knowingly or unknowingly be burdened by our misconceptions. It’s not really complicated. We humans make it complicated because we love to add our own understanding and philosophy in the mix.
Quite simply, all it takes for God’s forgiveness is to ask for it from a sincere heart that sees the need for God’s cleansing through God’s power in the person of Jesus Christ. Once that happens, there’s no need to wallow in the guilt of past sins or be tied down to the coulda, shoulda, woulda situations we tend to beat ourselves up over. If you sincerely and humbly ask for forgiveness, acknowledge your past mistakes and keep moving forward in the Lord accepting the fact he has forgiven you with a clean slate. Even if you have to face the consequences of your past, God will be there to help you deal with them in a way that will not only bless you, but others around you.
Old Testament prophets who trusted in a forthcoming Messiah knew this to be true as evidenced by the following scriptures:
8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
9 He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.
10 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
13 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. Psalm 103
34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. Jeremiah 31 (quoted by Paul in Hebrews 8:11-12)
8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
18 Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.
19 He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. Micah 6, 7
Even if we messed up a second ago or an hour ago, this can apply to us right now. We can accept God’s forgiveness as the reason to forgive ourselves to move forward in carrying out his business since there’s a whole lot that still needs to be done.
Harry A. Gaylord