Part 6 - A Prayer for Forgiveness of Sins - A Prayer
That We Will Receive, Not that God Will GrantBy now, I hope you can understand what a prayer for forgiveness of sins is really a prayer for. Among some that seek forgiveness, an understanding or definition of guilt is that God has not forgiven them. In their thinking, there has to be a change in the heart of God towards them and then the forgiveness can happen. Such thinking on our part should never keep us from asking for forgiveness.
If you haven't yet read it, go back to part 5 (of 6).
I hope this study is increasing your understanding of what is involved in forgiveness. Misunderstanding of Biblical forgiveness is one of the greatest reasons why people stay away from God. Maybe you have felt that you were "not good enough" or that you needed to "get your act together" for God to accept you. Understand that forgiveness is a two-party transaction. On His side, He has already forgiven you in His heart. He does not need to change His attitude towards you. He has always loved you and has provided the means to remove the guilt and shame from you - so you can feel forgiven - long before you were even born.
On your side, understand that your feeling forgiven does not come from a change in God's attitude towards you, it comes from you realizing that He has forgiven you and doing what you need to do to remove the guilt and shame. That confessing our sins includes realizing we are involved in sin and turning from it, forsaking it. When we are no longer involved in it there is no reason for guilt and shame - the sin that causes it is gone. Guilt and shame are natural consequences of our actions. Stop the action that caused guilt and shame and the guilt and shame stops. Is that simple enough?
God does not change. God is love. Therefore, everything He does has to be consistent with what He is. He treats us in a different way because we have changed course. The change in His actions is because He does not change. He is love and always will be love. He always does the loving thing - but the loving thing may change as the circumstances change. He always loves us and puts us before Himself. He always forgives us, charizomais us. But if we will not allow Him to take away the guilt and shame, to aphiemi/apoluo us then forgiveness doesn't happen to us. But in His heart He still loves us and forgives us and ultimately will do the most loving thing He can for those who do not accept forgiveness. Ultimately, He mercifully allows unrepentant sinners to die the second death.
Two-party transaction expanded
I mentioned at the start that forgiveness is a two-party transaction, the two being the forgiver and the forgivee. I would like to clarify that a little. While there are two sides involved, the two processes are a little more independent of each other than you might understand.
What do you expect to happen in answer to a prayer for forgiveness of sins? We need to realize that God, in His heart, forgives us, has already forgiven us whether we accept it or not, whether we want it or not, even whether we know it or not. His forgiveness, His charizomai does not depend upon our being good enough, does not depend on our repentance or confession or even upon us feeling like we are a lousy sinners. He continues to love us, to offer us His blessing, even to bless us. He desperately wants you to be saved eternally and today to turn to Him, to open your understanding and realize the depth of His acceptance and love for you.
So, in your prayers when you are asking for forgiveness, now that you understand forgiveness, pray intelligently. Don't pray for God to charizomai you because He already has. People will pray "Please, please God, please forgive me." They beg and plead and promise "Dear God if you'll just forgive me I won't do it again." And they are thinking of and looking for a change in God. "God, please will you forgive me?" Don't do that - He already has forgiven you. Don't plead for charizomai to happen, it has happened long ago.
Your other choice when praying for forgiveness is to pray that God will aphiemi or apoluo you. That He will take away the guilt and shame from your heart. But what has to happen for that to happen? - You need to stop doing the sin or you need to make it right with God or whoever is involved. The guilt and shame is a consequence of your wrong actions. So quit the actions!
I just want to end with this verse - it is the first one we started with:
"but thou art a God ready to pardon, ..." (Neh 9:17)
Pardon, of course is the same as forgiveness. Now a final test:
What is He ready to do; stop being mad at you? - no
End of 6-part Study on Biblical Forgiveness
God is even better than you've ever hoped or imagined.
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