The New Testament is about the redemption of sins against Christ. God sent his only son to live in our world to show us that you can live a life without sin. Matthew 4:1 tells us that “Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.” Many places in the New Testament make reference to this. Matthew 1:21 states “She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Jesus led a perfect life without sin, but the rest of the human beings on the planet have not accomplished this. Opportunity may only knock once, however, temptation continues to beat on the door every day. We humans are so fallible that we are tempted through our own greed, lust, anger, and pride to name just a few ways. Mark 7:18-23 says:
“He said to them, “Are even you likewise without understanding? Do you not realize that everything that goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters not the heart but the stomach and passes out into the latrine? But what comes out of a person, that is what defiles. From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.”
We as Christians are tempted by many things in our world, and frequently we fail, so we repeatedly seek forgiveness. Let me explain what a sin is: “An offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. An utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law” (CCC 1849). In 1 John 5:17 we are told very simply, “All wrongdoing is sin”. When referring to sinners, our textbook states; “those who were not scrupulous about observing the law of God. Jesus appears to have spent a good deal of his time with such folk (Testament 260).”
In order to be forgiven we must repent. Repenting is the act of turning away from sin, being remorseful. This is the conversion process. It may not be immediate, but ongoing. When Catholics confess our sins, we not only turn from sin, we must avoid what leads us to sin. You must also be remorseful for the sinful act in order to be forgiven. Asking for forgiveness can, and should be a very difficult act. Believers are responsible for their sinful acts and can only be forgiven by confessing their sins. Matthew 6:9-13 tells us how we must pray.
This is how you are to pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and do not subject us to the final test, but deliver us from the evil one.
There is another very important aspect to receiving forgiveness. This may be the one of the most difficult acts for many believers to complete. Christians must be willing to forgive those who have sinned against us. If you are not willing to forgive people who have sinned against you, your sins will not be forgiven. Matthew 6:14-15 tells us, “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”
“Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.” Marianne Williamson
God has already forgiven us for our sins, so why do we need to confess? We have the need to externalize our actions. We do this with gestures, words, and actions. We want to see, hear, and feel forgiveness, not just think about it in our minds. Members of the Catholic faith participate in the sacrament of reconciliation. This is a more formal process than many protestant Christians take when asking for forgiveness from sins. The confessor