Talk Back Question: You said we are sinners looking for God's forgiveness. Do we ever get forgiveness, or are we always to see ourselves as sinners?
[This question can in on a Talk Back card at our church. Answered by Shannon Smith and Josh Broward.]
I believe we get forgiveness, but we are always sinners. Martin Luther said we are “simultaneously saint and sinner.” We have been forgiven, but we are sinners who have been saved by the grace of God. “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23).
Yet at the same time, ”He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). We are forgiven when we confess our sins to God and ask Him to forgive us and cleanse us. But we still remain sinners.
We don’t have to worry or think about whether or not we are truly forgiven. It’s easy to doubt, especially because we all know how much we have personally sinned. But we serve a God we can trust to purify us from sin and wholeheartedly forgive us.
And while we have this faith in a God who saves us by His mercy and grace, we are still faced with the temptation to sin daily. Even though we are made new in Christ, we still have the capability to sin. This is why confession and prayer are good spiritual disciplines to practice regularly. “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness” (1 John 1:9).
The real issue here is a balance between humility (recognizing that we are broken, wounded, sinful people) and confidence (trusting in God’s love and mercy). We are also balancing contentment (resting in God’s forgiveness) and progress (pushing on toward more holiness and Christ-like-ness). These aren’t always easy to balance, but that’s pretty much like most things in life.