Grace is such a tough concept for us to embrace. It’s simple enough to define – God’s undeserved favor – but nearly impossible to internalize for most people.
We know that God’s forgiveness can’t be deserved or earned, and yet we keep our distance from God because of our inability to deserve or earn his forgiveness.
We wind up keeping our distance from God because our focus is still on ourselves rather than on his faithful, forgiving nature. But the Apostle John declares,
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
~ 1 John 1:9 NLT
Notice this: God doesn’t forgive us of our sins because we confess them. He forgives us, in response to our confession, because he is faithful and just.
Our confession – literally, our agreement with God that our sin is offensive – is prerequisite to experiencing his cleansing power, but our confession doesn’t actually earn or merit his forgiveness. Forgiveness simply flows out of the goodness of God who is always true to his own nature.
He is faithful to keep his word, so when he offers forgiveness, he follows through. And he is just in that he always honors the once-and-for-all payment that his Son Jesus provided on the cross to cover our guilt.
It takes humility to recognize that God’s grace and forgiveness are dependent on his goodness and not ours.
Whatever it is that the Holy Spirit brings to your attention to confess to God, own up to it freely, depending entirely upon his good and faithful character to cleanse you. He has provided atonement for your sins once and for all so that you might enjoy an intimate relationship with him forever.
Charles Stanley’s book, The Gift of Forgiveness, is an excellent follow-up on the subject of forgiveness. Stanley points out that no sin is so shockingly evil it blocks God’s forgiveness nor so trivial it negates the need for God’s mercy. He shares the specifics of how to go about receiving and giving forgiveness.