BUT! What about YOU? How have YOU offended others? Are there people in your life that you need to go to and ask forgiveness? Have you left wounded soldiers in your wake? Have you walked away without regard to how your words, deeds, or lack of deeds may have injured others? Perhaps you haven't even thought about it much...and suddenly the Holy Spirit convicts you of your wrong-doing. Your eyes are opened to the truth about yourself...those words you spoke in haste, anger, or even jest that cut to the heart and soul of your loved one, child, friend, co-worker. Those little white lies you may have told to cover for your mistakes, or the way you allowed someone else to be blamed or take the blame for your misconduct...the time you turned your head and ignored the person in distress that you could've helped if you had just taken a moment out of your busy day...little things that you didn't think anyone noticed. And yet, deep in your heart you know that it was wrong...and God noticed.
Yeah, it's not so easy to turn the spotlight on ourselves, is it? When we examine ourselves in the light of God's Word, the Truth, we begin to realize that we are the ones in need of forgiveness...and the pain and anger and bitterness and resentment we may be feeling may well be because we have unconfessed sin in our hearts...and we know we need to make it right.
Jesus says in Matthew 5:23:
"Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift."
This works both ways...either you remember that your brother has something against you because you have done him wrong...or you remember that your brother has something against you because he had done you wrong...either way..."first be reconciled to your brother (sister), and then come and offer your gift."
I John 1:8-10 tells it like it is:
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him (Jesus) a liar, and His Word is not in us."
I love what the book of James has to say about this subject:
Perhaps the sickness and sorrow we are feeling in our hearts is the result of unconfessed sin...and the unwillingness to be forgiven. That's right...we are not willing to be forgiven because we do not want to admit that we are wrong! Oops! Can that be true? Hmmm, I'm afraid, in my case, it could be true more often than not.
Don't get me wrong. I believe what we are taught in I John 2:12:
And also I believe what we are taught in Romans 5:6-8 ~
Yes, I believe Christ died for my sins, and that "as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." Psalm 103:12
When Christ said on the cross, "It is Finished!" (John 19:30)....He meant what He said. The battle for my soul was won. Christ was victorious over the sting of death and curse of death. My sins were forgiven at that very moment. Except for one thing...I had to Believe in Christ for that forgiveness to be applied to me....I had to REPENT of my sins...turn away from them...admit I was wrong....and accept God's FREE gift of salvation. (Ephesians 2)
BUT! (again)...That does not mean that I can continue to live my life with unconfessed sin...and that I should not ask forgiveness of those against whom I have transgressed (sinned). If I truly want to be free from the bondage of unforgiveness...I must also be willing to humble myself and ask forgiveness just as I also wish to forgive others....
"If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Matthew 6:14-15
In the Lord's Prayer, we have prayed over and over again these words: