Second chances. I’m a big fan of the mulligan in golf, the “do over” in front yard football, and the “undo” button on my word processor. I’ve always liked having a second chance. There are some things in life where second chances are not an option. For example, once a first impression is made, there are no do overs. Once you hit send on an e-mail, you do not have a second chance at expressing your heart about a matter in that e-mail. God, however, is the God of the second chance. Grace by definition allows do overs and mulligans in life. God’s grace does not excuse sin or make rebellion insignificant, and it doesn’t remove the consequences of our sin. It does offer us a chance to start fresh through forgiveness giving us the opportunity for a different outcome.
While God offers second chances, it does require repentance in our lives. The word “repent” means “to turn around.” When we repent of our sin, we are not only sorry for doing something wrong, but we also turn and go in a different direction. King David expressed repentance in his prayer he penned in Psalm 51. I encourage you to read the whole Psalm, but consider the first three verses: “Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.” While this passage does not mention his specific sin, he obviously had something on his mind and knew that God was fully aware of his transgression. He prayed the prayer indicating that grace was an option and compassion was offered. He knew that cleansing was a possibility even though his sin was hideous and shameful. Even though David knew that he had blown it, he also knew that God was compassionate and gracious. He knew God offered second chances, and David was imploring God for such an opportunity.
I think it’s best David doesn’t mention his specific sin, even though scholars believe it was his sin with Bathsheba. The reason it’s best is because we can fill in the blank with our own transgressions. All of our sin is shameful leading to the sacrifice of our Savior on the cross.
As we move toward our 4th of July celebration, I am mindful of the condition in our country and believe strongly that we are weaker nationally today because the Church is weaker spiritually. It is time for believers to pull out Psalm 51 and cry out to the Lord for forgiveness. God is merciful and compassionate. I have experienced God’s grace so many times in my life that I cannot count it. Second chances are God’s specialty.
Do you believe a general “Forgive me for my sins” is sufficient when you’re not sure what your sin was?
I believe God is always honored by a repentant spirit and a contrite heart. Obviously it is best to confess our specific sin to God as we acknowledge that our sin put Christ on the cross, but I do think that a general statement to God confessing our sinful state is also appropriate and pleases our heavenly Father. The wonderful thing for me to consider is that when I confess my sin to God, my sin is already covered by the blood of Jesus. If you think about it, a Christian is not really asking for forgiveness as if God may not forgive our sin. Rather, we are acknowledging our need for the cross and thanking God for the forgiveness I already have in Christ. I am not confessing my sin in order to gain forgiveness, but rather I am confessing my sin in order to restore fellowship with my God who loves me, died for me, and has redeemed me for eternity.
perfectly put. i always remind myself and my child, God has been through tomorrow, like you’ve been through yesterday”. God has forgiven us but we have to accept it as believers and gain a full understanding of Gods forgiveness. Guilt is a powerful thing, but it is an unecessary profitless emotion.