The Lord’s Prayer
And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is a debtor to us. —Luke 11:4
What is the Forgiveness of Sins?
Seek ye Jehovah while He may be found;
Call on Him while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the man of iniquity his thoughts;
And let him return to Jehovah,
And He will have compassion on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon. Isaiah 55:6-7
AC 9443. The Forgiveness of Sins shall now be spoken of.
AC 9444. The sins done by a man are rooted in his very life, and make it; and therefore no one is liberated from them unless he receives new life from the Lord, which is effected by means of regeneration.
AC 9445. That from himself, a man cannot do what is good or think what is true, but only from the Lord, is evident in John:
A man can do nothing unless it be given him from heaven (John 3:27).
He who abides in Me, and I in him, the same bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing (John 15:5).
From this it is evident that no one can withdraw anyone from sins, thus forgive them, except the Lord alone.
AC 9446. The Lord continually flows into man with the good of love and the truths of faith, but these are variously received, being received in one way by one person, and in a different way by another. By those who have been regenerated, they are received well, but by those who do not suffer themselves to be regenerated, they are received badly.
AC 9447. Those who have been regenerated are continually kept by the Lord in the good of faith and of love, and are then withheld from evils and falsities. And those who do not suffer themselves to be regenerated by the Lord are also withheld from evil and kept in good, for good and truth continually flow in from the Lord with every man; but the infernal loves in which they are, namely, the loves of self and of the world, stand in the way, and turn the influx of good into evil, and that of truth into falsity.
AC 9448. From all this it is evident what the Forgiveness of Sins is. To be able to be kept by the Lord in the good of love and the truths of faith, and to be withheld from evils and falsities, is the Forgiveness of Sins. And to shun evil and falsity, and to turn away from them, is then Repentance. But these are possible only with those who, through regeneration, have received new life from the Lord, because these things belong to the new life.
AC 9449. The signs that sins have been forgiven are the following: Delight is felt in worshiping God for the sake of God; in being of service to the neighbor for the sake of the neighbor; thus, in doing good for the sake of good, and in believing truth for the sake of truth. There is an unwillingness to merit by anything that belongs to charity and faith. Evils, such as enmities, hatreds, revenges, unmercifulness, adulteries—in a word, all things that are against God and against the neighbor—are shunned and are held in aversion.
AC 9450. But the signs that sins have not been forgiven are the following. God is not worshiped for the sake of God; and the neighbor is not served for the sake of the neighbor; thus, good is not done and truth is not spoken for the sake of good and truth, but for the sake of self and the world. There is a desire to merit by our deeds; others are despised in comparison with ourselves; delight is felt in evils, such as enmities, hatred, revenge, cruelty, adulteries; and the holy things of the church are held in contempt, and are at heart denied.
Questions and Comments
- Does it seem hard to “seek Jehovah while He is near” and “call upon Him” at times when we are aware of our sins? Isaiah 55 continues by comparing how abundantly He pardons to how high the heavens are above the earth.
- The Latin word that is translated “Forgiveness” here is Remissio, from which we have “remission” and “remittance.” The root meaning is to send back or send away.
- AC 9444 speaks of our being “liberated” from our sins, being brought out of house of servitude. The Lord came into the world to save us from our sins, to restore our freedom to stop doing them. This is forgiveness or remission of sins.
- AC 9445 says that no one but the Lord can truly forgive someone by withdrawing them from their sins—certainly no priest or televangelist. Why then does the Lord call on us to forgive one another?
- AC 9448 gives a definition of forgiveness of sins. Is this how you usually think of being forgiven?
- Can we use the signs that sins have or have not been forgiven (AC 9449-9450) in self-examination?