The Lord’s Prayer
And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is a debtor to us. —Luke 11:4
Repentance is the way to the remission of sins.
Mark 1:4. John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
TCR 459:12. “It is my opinion that charity is to forgive everyone his trespasses. I have drawn this opinion from the customary saying of those who approach the Holy Supper; for some then say to their friends, ‘Forgive me what I have done amiss,’ thinking that they have thus discharged all the duties of charity.
“But I have thought in my own mind that this is nothing but a painted picture of charity, not the real form of its essence; for this is said both by those who do not forgive, and by those who make no effort to follow charity; and such are not included in the Prayer which the Lord Himself taught, ‘Father, forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.’
“Trespasses are like ulcers, within which, if they are not opened and healed, diseased matter collects, which infects the neighboring parts, and creeping about like a serpent, turns the blood everywhere into such matter. It is the same with trespasses against the neighbor, which, unless removed by repentance and by a life according to the Lord’s commandments, remain and devour.
“Those who, without repentance, merely pray to God to forgive their sins, are like the inhabitants of a city, who, being infected with a contagious disease, go to the chief magistrate and say, ‘Sir, heal us.’ And he would answer, ‘How can I heal you? Go to a physician, find out what medicines you need, get them for yourselves from a pharmacist and take them, and your health will be restored.’
“So the Lord will say to those who pray for the forgiveness of their sins without actual repentance, ‘Open the Word, and read what I have spoken in Isaiah:
‘Ah, sinful nation, laden with iniquity. When you spread forth your hands, I hide My eyes from you; indeed, when you make many prayers, I do not hear. Wash you, put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well (Isa. 1:4, 15-18).
“’And then your sins will be removed and forgiven.’”
What is the unforgivable sin?
Matthew 12:31-32. Every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men; but the blasphemy of the Spirit shall not be forgiven men. And whoever says a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever shall say it against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this age, nor in that to come.
AE 778:3-4. “Sin and blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” means to deny the Word, and to adulterate its essential goods and falsify its essential truths; while “a word against the Son of Man” means to interpret the natural sense of the Word, which is the sense of its letter, according to appearances.
To deny the Word is a sin that “cannot be remitted in this age nor in that which is to come,” that is, to eternity, and he who does it “is subject to an eternal judgment,” because those who deny the Word deny God, deny the Lord, deny heaven and hell, and deny the church and all things pertaining to it. And those who deny these are atheists, who, although with their lips they may attribute the creation of the universe to some Supreme Entity, or Deity, or God, yet in heart ascribe it to nature. Because such by denial have dissolved all bond of connection with the Lord, they cannot help but be separated from heaven and conjoined to hell.
Questions and Comments
- You can read John the Baptist’s teaching about repentance especially in Matthew 3 and Luke 3. The purpose of repentance is that our sins may be remitted and we may be free of them.
- Should we require children to ask forgiveness after doing something wrong? Is it a good or bad idea to require them to say they are sorry?
- Is it clear that trespasses or sins left in place without dealing with them will gradually devour your life? How can we go the Physician, find out what medicines we need and get them from the Pharmacist? What are the medicines? How do we take them?
- What would be a present-day equivalent to going to the chief magistrate to seek healing of a contagious disease?
- What might be an example of “a word against the Son of Man,” a misinterpretation of the sense of the letter? What might be an example of a “blasphemy of the Spirit”? Can you see why the latter cannot be forgiven? What is the problem with being an atheist?