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Asking For Forgiveness


When I ask God for forgiveness each night, I believe He forgives me. But when I do the same sin again and again, I wonder why God doesn’t stop me. Does God just wipe away that sin? And when I do it again, is it the same sin, or just another sin? What’s going on?

Steve Answers:

One of my favorite Bible texts about God’s forgiveness is 1 John 1:9: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."

The condition of forgiveness is confession, something you do each night. Yet confession is stronger than asking for forgiveness. Confession includes owning up to the fact that you’ve messed up prior to asking for God to wipe it away. By the way, people who fail to admit that they’ve sinned are fooling only themselves (see verse 8), plus they’re calling God a liar (see verse 10).

According to 1 John 1:9, if we do confess, God does two things. First, He forgives us, and second, He cleanses us. That makes it sound like we have a clean start, and there’s no need to sin again–certainly not that very same sin we did earlier, right?

Note the next six verses in 1 John 2: "My little children, I am telling you this so that you will stay away from sin [sounds like you won’t be sinning again, doesn’t it?]. But if you sin [sounds like He knew you would], there is someone to plead for you before the Father. His name is Jesus Christ, the one who is all that is good and who pleases God completely. He is the one who took God’s wrath against our sins upon himself, and brought us into fellowship with God; and he is the forgiveness for our sins, and not only ours but all the world’s. And how can we be sure that we belong to him? By looking within ourselves: are we really trying to do what He wants us to? Someone may say, ‘I am a Christian; I am on my way to heaven; I belong to Christ.’ But if he doesn’t do what Christ tells him to, he is a liar. But those who do what Christ tells them to will learn to love God more and more. That is the way to know whether or not you are a Christian. Anyone who says he is a Christian should live as Christ did" (TLB).*

I’d recommend that you read all of 1 John–it’s only five chapters–and discover for yourself what else God has said about this topic.

Welcome to the battle of choosing to do what’s right instead of being a robot who simply does what’s wrong. Apart from Christ, you’ll just naturally do the sinful/selfish thing every time.

With Jesus’ power, you can now fight against that innate selfishness. It didn’t used to be a fight–you just did what was wrong. The fact that it’s a fight shows that God’s Spirit is now active in you.

Paul wrote about overcoming sin this way, "Now we can obey God’s laws if we follow after the Holy Spirit and no longer obey the old evil nature within us. . . . You have no obligations whatever to your old sinful nature to do what it begs you to do. For if you keep on following it you are lost and will perish, but if through the power of the Holy Spirit you crush it and its evil deeds, you shall live" (Romans 8:4-13, TLB).

Confess and bask in the freedom of forgiveness. Invest in God and crush your natural selfishness so the Holy Spirit’s goodness will come shining through. Change your focus from what’s wrong, and instead, use your energies to simply do what’s right.

You’re forgiven, so live like it. And if/when you mess up, come back to the Forgiver again and again. 

*Verses marked TLB are taken from The Living Bible, copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Ill. Used by permission.

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