A question about forgiveness...

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J. Dean

Puritan Board Junior
My wife, in challenging me on my Calvinism, asked me an interesting question.

"If you don't lose your salvation, why do you ask for forgiveness for your sins?"

My response was to the effect of "I don't ask for forgiveness because I fear losing my salvation; I ask forgiveness because I've grieved the God I love."

She didn't register much of a response on this one.

Would you suggest a better, more biblical answer? I'm all ears.


Puritanboard Botanist
You want to escape God's chastisement. We humans are stupid, ignorant kids and we don't always obey out of love. A primary motive for good behavior is naturally gratitude, since we can't offer anything other than thanks to God, but there are secondary motivations to good behavior, e.g. asking for forgiveness.


Staff member
Also, because it is not about us at all. Although our salvation is certainly important to us, it really is only important in that it is to God's glory.

Just because we are saved does not mean that we can ignore giving God all glory and requesting forgiveness for our abject failings.

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
My response was to the effect of "I don't ask for forgiveness because I fear losing my salvation; I ask forgiveness because I've grieved the God I love."

That sounds like an excellent answer. I recently commented on this very question here, and there are other posts as well in that thread.


Puritan Board Sophomore
I think in his little book titled Truth For All Time, Calvin teaches that all we bring to the throne of Grace is a full acknowledgment of our sin, and our absolute poverty to overcome them by means of the flesh!
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Puritan Board Post-Graduate
We Presbyterians say in the Lords Prayer….forgive us our debts and we forgive our debtors….

Matthew 6:12-15
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (NIV)

We forgive by faith, out of obedience. Since forgiveness goes against our nature, we must forgive by faith, whether we feel like it or not. We must trust God to do the work in us that needs to be done so that the forgiveness will be complete.

Matthew 18:21-22
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. (NIV)

This answer by Jesus makes it clear that forgiveness is not easy for us. It's not a one-time choice and then we automatically live in a state of forgiveness. Forgiveness may require a lifetime of forgiving, but it is important to the Lord. We must continue forgiving until the matter is settled in our heart.
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