Here we find the Apostle Paul highlighting how great our sin is, therefore how great a debt we have, but also how great a God we have who freely gives his grace to those who believe. I am well aware this is not easy teaching to accept. To understand our need for forgiveness means we need to understand and accept our own wrongdoing toward God. And considering the hardness of life and injustice in our world there are times we are tempted to blame that on God himself. Yet, what God has done is actually grace. And that grace comes through the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Forgiveness is an issue central to the Christian faith. After all, Jesus’ primary mission through his life, death, and resurrection, was to bring forgiveness; a forgiveness that would repair the relationship between humanity and God.
In the Lord’s Prayer of Matthew 6:9-13 Jesus teaches us how to pray, and in doing so teaches us to ask for forgiveness from God. After asking for ‘our daily bread’, that is, our needs, we are also taught to ask for God to ‘forgive us our debts’.
To be clear, what Jesus is not teaching us here is that God will forgive our financial debts. So often we use the term ‘debt’ in a financial sense. This is the way the word is typically used today. Perhaps unfortunately for you, after praying this prayer you will still have your financial debts to pay. The mortgage will still be there, the car loan still needs to be paid this month, and the credit card bill continues to stack up.
But this idea of financial debt gives us an illustration of the position we find ourselves in. We are in debt to God.
We may ask, why am I in debt to God?
Well, the Bible teaches us that we are in debt to God because of what is called ‘sin’. Essentially, we have disobeyed, fallen short, and rejected God in our lives. In doing so we find ourselves in debt to God. As Romans 3:23-24 says,
“The righteousness of God is through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe, since there is no distinction. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
Here we find the Apostle Paul highlighting how great our sin is, therefore how great a debt we have, but also how great a God we have who freely gives his grace to those who believe.