“‘“And forgive us our debts”’” (Matthew 6:12).
God will not forgive our sins if we do not confess them. John makes that condition clear when he declares, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Confession simply means we agree with God that our sins are evil and defiling and we do not want them to taint our walk with Christ.
Our sinful pride makes it difficult to confess sin, but it is the only way to the free and joyful Christian life (cf. Prov. 28:13). John Stott said, “One of the surest antidotes to the process of moral hardening is the disciplined practice of uncovering our sins of thought and outlook as well as word and deed and the repentant forsaking of the same.”
We must never take God’s promise of forgiveness as a license for sin or as an excuse to presume on His grace. Instead we must view forgiveness as an aid to our sanctification and be constantly thankful to the Lord for His loving forgiveness.
Your prayer ought to coincide with the Puritan one: “Grant me never to lose sight of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, the exceeding righteousness of salvation, the exceeding glory of Christ, the exceeding beauty of holiness, and the exceeding wonder of grace. I am guilty but pardoned. I am lost but saved. I am wandering but found. I am sinning but cleansed. Give me perpetual broken-heartedness. Keep me always clinging to Thy cross.”
How can one walk in an awareness of his own wretchedness while also living in the confidence of Christ’s righteousness and salvation? Actually, it is only by realizing our great need for Him that we can enjoy the grace that overwhelms our sin. Seek this biblical balance in your own life.
From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610, www.moodypublishers.com.