"Forgive us our debts" (Matt. 6:12).
Forgiveness removes the guilt and penalty of sin and restores intimacy with God.
Man's greatest problem is sin. It renders him spiritually dead, alienates him from God and his fellow man, plagues him with guilt and fear, and can eventually damn him to eternal hell. The only solution is forgiveness—and the only source of forgiveness is Jesus Christ.
All sin is punishable by death (Rom. 6:23) but Christ bore the sins of the world, thereby making it possible to be forgiven and have eternal life through faith in Him (John 3:16). What a glorious reality!
Scripture speaks of two kinds of forgiveness: judicial and parental. Judicial forgiveness comes from God the righteous judge, who wiped your sin off the record and set you free from its punishment and guilt. At the moment of your salvation He forgave all your sins—past, present, and future—and pronounced you righteous for all eternity. That's why nothing can ever separate you from Christ's love (Rom. 8:38-39).
Parental forgiveness is granted to believers by their loving heavenly Father as they confess their sin and seek His cleansing. That's the kind of forgiveness Jesus speaks of in Matthew 6:12.
When a child disobeys his father, the father/child relationship isn't severed. The child is still a member of the family and there's a sense in which he is already forgiven because he's under the umbrella of his father's parental love. But some of the intimacy of their relationship is lost until the child seeks forgiveness.
That's the idea in Matthew 6:12. The sins you commit as a believer don't rob you of your salvation, but they do affect your relationship with God. He still loves you and will always be your Father, but the intimacy and sweet communion you once knew is jeopardized until you seek reconciliation by confessing your sins.
As a Christian, you are judicially forgiven and will never come into condemnation. But never presume on that grace. Make confession part of your daily prayers so sin will never erode your relationship with your Heavenly Father.
Suggestions for Prayer
- Thank God for His judicial forgiveness of all your sins.
- Ask Him to help you maintain the joy of your relationship with Him by quickly dealing with any sin that comes up in your life.
For Further Study
Read Psalm 32:1-7.
- How did David feel about forgiveness?
- What happened to David before he confessed his sin?
From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.