Recently, while we were confessing our sins together, this phrase caught my attention: “Grant us forgiveness of all our sins.” It’s not like I hadn’t noticed the phrase before. It’s the central phrase in the confession of sin. But it struck me how audacious that request is. Who do we think we are, that we can just come right up to God and say, “Grant us forgiveness of all our sins”? Just a moment earlier we confessed, “That we are by nature sinful and unclean, and that we have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed.” If that’s true, why should God grant us such a bold request?
Imagine doing this with other authorities. At school you say to the teacher, “I cheated on all my tests. I stole my Sally’s homework. I ate Billy’s lunch. And I put tacks on your chair. Forgive me for all these sins.” Or at work you confess to your boss, “I lied on my time card. Every day I sneak two extra breaks. I stole some merchandise. And I slashed your tires. Forgive me for all these sins.” Or in a court of law you say, “Judge, I didn’t just rob that convenience store; I also robbed a bank, killed four people, and sent you those death threats. Forgive me for all these crimes.” Their answers would be, “No,” “No,” and “No.” Remember, forgiveness doesn’t just mean that they’re not mad at you. It means that they accept the consequences for your sins instead of holding you accountable for them. It would be foolish to think that these authorities would not hold us responsible for the things we have done.
And, yet, we have the audacity to come before the supreme authority of the universe, confess everything, and say, “Grant us forgiveness of all our sins.” Why would we think this would go well for us? Because God invites us to do this. Jesus commanded us to pray, “Forgive us our trespasses” (Matt. 6:12; Luke 11:4). Scripture promises, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Jesus Christ bled and died for all these sins. The price has already been paid. He has already taken responsibility for them. And so he invites us to confess our sins, audacious as it may seem. And he promises to forgive us. God has bound himself by his oath to forgive our sins, even before we confess what they are.
The peace of Christ be with you all,