If we confess our wrongdoing, he is sure to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. — 1 John 1:9
The Jews of Jesus’ day had little interest in forgiveness. They believed in justice, which meant an “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth (Exodus 21:23-24).” A person wronged was entitled to damages equal to the offense.
Our society demands justice.
The “justice” concept is as strong today as it was in ancient times. Our courts are backlogged with cases seeking retribution. Why? Because we still believe people should pay for their wrongdoing.
Justice has a better alternative.
God will execute justice as no one else can (Romans 12:19). Nothing is hidden from him. Therefore, we don’t have to worry about others receiving their just punishment for wrongdoing. That’s okay for others, but what about me? As I consider my past, I don’t want what I deserve. I’d like to be forgiven.
In our courts, attorneys present arguments for leniency, as if remorse or change in character justifies forgiveness. Before God, people may think the same way, as if they must do something to deserve his favor. If they’ve done terrible things, they may think God cannot forgive them—but they would be wrong. With a repentant heart, people can come to God and receive forgiveness, no matter how great the offense.
I’m thankful that God’s love is sufficient to save me from the justice I deserve. However, that doesn’t give me license to keep sinning, and in that lies the problem that deserves constant prayer.
If I’m forgiven, I must change.
Not only does my persistence in doing anything that doesn’t please the Lord need forgiveness, but it points to something about my desire that is in desperate need for change.
That’s why, when I pray for forgiveness, I’m begging for his help to change my desires.