Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.
–Psalm 51:1

Once we have acknowledged our sin to God, we need to receive God’s forgiveness. In Psalm 51:1 David said, “Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.” Look at the words David used to describe God. He is gracious. He is full of lovingkindness. He is marked by compassion. Although God hates sin, He loves to forgive sin. And by the way, God’s forgiveness isn’t like a discount store sale: for a limited time and only while supplies last. God’s forgiveness is complete, and it is always available if we are willing to ask. John said it this way in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

The apostle John is talking about the sins we confess as Christians. He is not talking about that one-time prayer of confessing our sins and asking God to declare us not guilty by trusting in Christ as our Savior. He is talking about confessing the sins that we commit after we become Christians. When we as Christians sin, God doesn’t disinherit us or throw us out of His family. We don’t need His judicial forgiveness–God already declared us “not guilty” the moment we trusted in Christ as our Savior–but we do need His parental forgiveness. Whenever we sin against God, it causes a breach in our relationship. We need His forgiveness, not so much because God has moved away from us but because we have moved away from God.

I will never forget the first time I got a report card in the first grade. I was eager to see how I had done. I opened the report card, and on the left-hand side were my grades for different classes. The grades were mostly As and a few Bs. Then I looked on the other side of the report card, and I saw a list of things like citizenship, punctuality, and getting along with the other students. There were additional grades associated with those things, and every grade was an S. Now, being in the first grade, I didn’t understand that S stood for satisfactory. Instead here’s how my little mind worked. I thought, “Well, if A is the best you can do, and B is the next best, and F is enough to fail you–oh my, S is enough to imprison you!” I began to panic, so I hid my report card from my parents for three days. I was scared about what they would say when they opened that report card. Now, the fact is, they weren’t angry with me. I had nothing to feel guilty about. But the guilt I felt kept me separated from my parents for days. It is the same way in our relationship with God, our heavenly Father. Whenever we feel guilty, we keep our distance from God. But if we are willing to confess our sins, He is more than willing to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Receiving God’s Gift of Forgiveness” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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