Why do we need to pray for forgiveness of sins as believers?

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ClayPot

Puritan Board Sophomore
A quick forum search didn't turn up anything, so I thought I'd open up the question to everyone:

Why do we need to pray for the Lord to forgive our sins as believers? e.g., In the Lord's prayer? Obviously, it is something that is Biblical and we are commanded to do it so we should. But if we are believers, then we are forgiven in Christ. Thus, out sins are already forgiven. So why do we need to pray for them to be forgiven again? Can someone help me reconcile these two truths? Thanks.
 

PointingToChrist

Puritan Board Freshman
By praying to the Lord and asking forgiveness for our particular sins, we can see more deeply how these specific sins are abhorrent to God and why we need forgiveness. By not praying for forgiveness regularly, we are taking for granted the forgiveness that Christ grants us on the cross, and we are in danger of not having true faith if we don't realize our sinful nature.
 

blhowes

Puritan Board Professor
A quick forum search didn't turn up anything, so I thought I'd open up the question to everyone:

Why do we need to pray for the Lord to forgive our sins as believers? e.g., In the Lord's prayer? Obviously, it is something that is Biblical and we are commanded to do it so we should. But if we are believers, then we are forgiven in Christ. Thus, out sins are already forgiven. So why do we need to pray for them to be forgiven again? Can someone help me reconcile these two truths? Thanks.
Joshua,
One verse comes to mind:

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

When we sin, we defile/dirty ourselves (and/or feel defiled). God cleanses us and allows us to move on.
 
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Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Because although we are justified forever by faith the moment we believe, God is still displeased with us as justified believers.

See e.g. II Samuel 11:27 where it says that God was displeased with David for his sin although David was a justified (the Psalms sometimes use the words just and righteous for this) man.

Also as respects sanctification, although we're eternally justified if we have exercised true faith, we still need to have our souls washed of the filth of sin.

Here's a section of a talk on this I recently did. There may be some elements you can add to it.

Justification doesn’t mean :-

(a ) That God is not in some sense displeased when we sin (e.g. II Sam. 11:27)

(b) That we can stop confessing our sins and seeking renewed forgiveness, cleansing, repentance and new obedience. (e.g. John 13:10) throughout our lives.

(c) That so-called “little sins” can’t turn into “big sins” that can be disastrous for our profession of faith and also our lives, and therefore they need to be nipped in the bud. (e.g. I Corinthians 5:6).

(d) That – although God will never take His Holy Spirit from dwelling in a justified sinner – He can and may remove His felt presence, usually because of sin.(e.g. Psalm 51:11)

(e) That we may be chastised by God for various sins (e.g. Heb. 12:7) by various troubles, or we may experience trouble from God’s hand, not because of any particular sin(s) but to improve the quality of our faith, love and hope and hone us to further perfection and maturity, like already pure gold being purified further (e.g. Job 1:1; 40: 3-5; 42:5-6).

(f) That we may not sometimes or often lack assurance that we justified, adopted and are being sanctified.
 

OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
Yes, you are already forgiven and that takes care of your justification, but you have your sanctification process. You must admit (confess) your sin and then pray for true repentance. We pray in order to be changed...confession and repentance does this. I already know that I'm forgiven for all my sins....past, present, future....what God wants to see is true confession that I have committed them and a heart for wanting true repentance, praying for that repentance, and then the actual turning from that sin.
 

wmc1982

Puritan Board Freshman
A quick forum search didn't turn up anything, so I thought I'd open up the question to everyone:

Why do we need to pray for the Lord to forgive our sins as believers? e.g., In the Lord's prayer? Obviously, it is something that is Biblical and we are commanded to do it so we should. But if we are believers, then we are forgiven in Christ. Thus, out sins are already forgiven. So why do we need to pray for them to be forgiven again? Can someone help me reconcile these two truths? Thanks.
Joshua,
One verse comes to mind:

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

When we sin, we defile/dirty ourselves (and/or feel defiled). God cleanses us and allows us to move on.

That verse sounds conditional at first glance (why is the "if" there?), as if God doesn't forgive and cleanse us of sin that isn't confessed. Maybe verses like this are why Catholics do confessions the way they do.

I imagine the unregenerate are unable to confess or repent of sin altogether and this "confession" is referring to a result of God's regeneration at conversion, when our eyes are opened and realize the depths of our sinful nature and repent from sin. Seems like it's all tied up into that rather than individual sins.

Anyway, I think the forgivness we ask for when we sin is more of a sorrow for sin and acknowledgement to God that we offended Him, with a willingness to repent.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Quote from wmc1982
I imagine the unregenerate are unable to confess or repent of sin altogether

Of course none of us - even the regenerate - can confess and repent of all sin perfectly in this life, otherwise we would be perfect.

Faith and repentance just has to be really and truly the product of regeneration by the Holy Spirit. Faith and repentance will never be perfect in this life, just like all our works.

This does not mean that progress cannot be made in sanctification - holiness and use of gifts.
 

blhowes

Puritan Board Professor
That verse sounds conditional at first glance (why is the "if" there?), as if God doesn't forgive and cleanse us of sin that isn't confessed.
Its interesting that that verse is sandwiched in between two other conditional statements about denying that we've sinned:
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.​
<way out in left field?>

Just wondering out loud, but I wonder if there's a contrast in these verses between believers (verse 10) and non-believers (verses 9 and 11)?

If we say we have not sinned:
1. We deceive ourselves
2. The truth is not in us.
3. We make God a liar.
4. His word is not in us.

On the other hand, if we say that we have sinned and confess our sins:
1. God forgives our sins
2. God cleanses us

</way out in left field?>
 

Prufrock

Arbitrary Moderation
Joshua, you have hit upon an important question, and one all too often misunderstood or ignored today. The fact is that, as believers, we yet stand daily in need of true, actual remission of sins. Here is a helpful statement from Thomas Manton in his exposition of the Lord's prayer:
The necessity of it will appear from the way wherein God gives a Pardon, which is upon the Creature's humble submission, and seeking of Terms of Grace; so that whatsoever Right we have to Remission in Christ, though we have a general Right to remission and pardon of Sin; yet we must seek to apply that Right, and beg the use of it for our daily Pardon and acceptance with God. (p.361 of the 1864 edition, printed by J.D. You will probably, however, have easier access to the edition in vol. 1 of his complete works. Just read the section which covers the "Forgive us our debts" clause.)

As he most helpfully summarizes later, there is a threefold aspect to the application of forgiveness:
I. The impetration and purchase of it.
II. The Offer of it, on terms of true faith and repentance.
III. The Judicial application of it; which in turn consists of:
1. The alteration of the person's state, so that he is a child of God.
2. The actual remission of all past sins.
3. A right to the remission of daily sins, or "free leave to make use of the Fountain of Mercy that is always running, and is opened in the House of God for the Comfort of Believers."​

Have confidence, dear brother, that on account of Christ's work whereby he has purchased a right unto forgiveness for us, we may confidently approach God for a most assured pardon of our sins when we turn in true repentance and seek it.
 

Blue Tick

Puritan Board Graduate
As Josh stated:

We are commanded to.



Matthew 6:5-14
7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
 

Prufrock

Arbitrary Moderation
I meant to include this in my last post; I would recommend reading a treatment of forgiveness such as John Owen's A Practical Exposition of Psalm 130. It is an immensely practical and helpful work.
 
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