Q. I worry about my friend. She believes that God forgives her sin but does not accept His forgiveness because she tells herself she is unworthy. I know in regards to our salvation, when we believe we are sinners and realize we need a savior, we also need to accept Jesus as our Savior or we would remain in our sins. Is the same true of forgiveness? How can I help her?
A. Forgiveness is like salvation in that it’s free for the asking. And like salvation, receiving God’s forgiveness is an act of faith based on our belief that Jesus paid for all of our sins at the cross.
It may be that someone or something has convinced your friend that she has to earn God’s forgiveness. You could help her understand that it’s impossible for anyone to ever do that. That’s why Jesus came and earned it for her. When He went to the cross He paid the penalty for every sin of her life (Colossians 2:13-14), even those she hasn’t committed yet, and made her perfect in His sight (Hebrews 10:12-14) so she could be forgiven every time she asks.
She might also think she’s unworthy to seek God’s forgiveness because she is not ready to forgive herself. If that’s the case, you could tell her that we don’t have to forgive ourselves before asking God to forgive us. In fact, receiving God’s forgiveness is often one of the steps toward forgiving ourselves.
So the bottom line is, it’s not her worthiness that matters, it’s His faithfulness. And because He was faithful to the point of death, God has promised to automatically forgive her every time she asks, whether she thinks she’s worthy or not.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).