“…and Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”
We are dependent creatures, we need our daily bread and are taught to look to God for it in the Lord’s prayer. We certainly cannot live by bread, but neither can we live without it.
In the same way, we cannot live without the mercy of God’s forgiveness. We need it, daily. I cannot live without God, without communion and the sense of God in my life. But I am a sinner. I have to have forgiveness.
God gives us so much more than we even realize. His giving is constant, often silent, it even goes unrecognized by the recipients all too often. The Psalmist blessed the LORD who “Daily loads us with Benefits”.
Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.( Psalm 68:19)
Another of the Psalms extols a list of blessings and benefits that the LORD bestows upon us, and puts “Forgiveness of iniquities at the top of the list;
Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.( Psalm 103:1-5)
The LORD is an abundant giver, but even more importantly He is an abundant forgiver. There will be no Spiritual life at all without the acknowledgment and forgiveness of Sins. The denial of Sin, and/or the mistaken belief that it is somehow an act of unbelief to continually confess our sins to God in prayer, both amount to “remaining in darkness”.
Yes there is a full and free pardon to all who believe in the gospel, which never need be repeated. God forgave our sin for Jesus’ sake. Salvation is “once and for all”, we who believe are forgiven and have the remission of sins.
When Jesus tried to clean Peter’s feet at the last Supper, Peter refused. He had bathed before hand, He only needed his feet cleansed, the part of Him that came in contact with the World,
Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.( John 13: )
Were we washed from our sins once and for all when we became Christians? Yes we were. But do we still sin, often daily? Sadly, yes we do. Should we not ask for forgiveness of specific sins constantly, although in one sense we have been forgiven of them? Yes we should.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” ( I John 1:9)
Remember that Prayer is about more than simple cause and effect. it is about deeply aligning ourselves with God. We come into agreement on a set of facts, we learn to deplore and hate our sins, (as God does) , we do not want to take for granted the fact of our forgiveness, so we constantly expose our sins to the light of God in prayer, taking God’s side against them until sin itself is destroyed in our members.
Forgiveness of sin is not a mere abstract concept or religious principle which God offers us. It cannot be separated from Christ himself, who gave himself as an offering to make it possible. When we pray for the forgiveness of our sins we are applying in prayer the entire gift of Christ. We are applying Christ himself to our debtedness and residual depravity. Daily, until we arrive at glorification we should be praying for forgiveness of specific sins which we have committed.
Sin is debt.What do we owe God? We Owe ourselves to Him. All that we are, body, soul and spirit is His;and we ought to give all to Him,and we ought to be his, and to give all to Him and that always.And this debt is daily growing for God is daily giving and we are always misappropriating his gifts.We cannot get rid of our debt other than by becoming more his debtors, He forgives us and now we owe Him more than ever, for as the Apostles say,”Owe no many anything but to love one another..” So Christ expects from the sinner to whom much is forgiven, that He will love much.” (The LORD”S PRAYER, Adolph Saphir)
Other versions say “Forgive us our trespasses…”. Saphir notes in his book, that all men can grasp this, the simplest principle of the mystery of Sin, that it is a debt, or a trespass. We all know what it means to be in debt, or to have someone owe us… so also we can all relate to the notion of Trespass, wherein we step over a boundary or a line. Sin is a very real debt and a trespass against God.
“If sin is a debt and trespass, is it not good for us, at least once a day (as the LORD evidently intended and expects us to do) to ask our heavenly Father to remit our debt, to disperse the cloud which intercepts from us the light of his countenance?”( ibid)
Yes the debt has been “paid in full” and the account has been settled in the sacrifice of Jesus, but only good comes by the constant and humble acknowledgement of it, in asking for forgiveness of sins in prayer.
Sin itself is a profound mystery. What is it? Where did it come from? Only God fully knows the total depth of the mystery of Sin, and He is at war with it. God hates all sin. Jesus had to die to give us a hope of being forgiven of it and of conquering it in ourselves.
Saphir again, is poignant on this point,
“Sin prevails everywhere but few know it.They who are most familiar with it(sin) and most obedient to it’s sway, are least acquainted with its character, and feel least its tyranny.Sin is myriad shaped. It wears a thousand masks, speaks with a thousand voices, and pursues a thousand methods. It can be childish and ambitious; now it is heroic and laborious, now frivolous and effeminate; now it is gross and revolting, now polished and beautiful; yet it is ever the same; Life without God, enmity against the Most High”(Ibid)
Even in the soul of a Christian, sin has a toxic effect. It deadens the soul towards God and numbs holy affections and impulses. It kills love for the brethren as well for there is no love in Sin.
We cannot truly look even at our own sin objectively for it frightens us to admit it, and the effect of Sin is spiritual blindness. Only from the vantage point of Calvary, and of the forgiveness it affords, can sin ever be seen even remotely for what it truly is. Only when the gospel assures us that we are forgiven and accepted can we be willing to allow ourselves to see the depths of our guilt.
God’s method of sanctification, is not the denial of Sin or it’s seriousness, rather it is a combination of a deep sense of conviction against sin ,
with an assurance of pardon and the status of Righteousness as a gift from Jesus,
and finally the cultivation of a holy hatred of sin and iniquity.
Thus we are taught to pray about our sin, and to ask for forgiveness of them, in utter dependance upon God.