Q. The bible says that we are to confess our sins one-by-one and ask for forgiveness-and God will forgive us. I also understand from the Lord’s Prayer, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” that in both cases we ask God to forgive us. If someone has done wrong to me -why should I forgive them if they don’t ask forgiveness from me-when I have to ask God to forgive me of MY sins. And if I fail to ask forgiveness for an overlooked sin, will I still be permitted to enter eternity with Christ?
A. I don’t believe the Bible really says “one-by-one” but we are commanded to seek forgiveness for the sins of others (1 John 5:16) as well as our own (1 John 1:9). Asking the Lord to forgive others is obeying the commandment to “love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34) and it shows we’re grateful that He forgave us (which He didn’t have to do, after all). Since He forgave us for everything, he expects us to forgive each other in the same way.
But just as importantly it helps us to forgive them, which speeds the healing process. That uncomfortable feeling between two people who have unresolved issues is detrimental to both our physical health and our spiritual walk. If the other person doesn’t want to get past it, that’s their problem.
The Lord understands your motives in asking for His forgiveness. He’s not looking for a loophole he can use to deprive you of your salvation. Remember, He gave His life so you could have it. When you say, “forgive me of all my sins” He’s knows you mean all of them. But if you want to be really sure, use the prayer David wrote in Psalm 19:12-13:
Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression.