This morning in my prayer time, I found myself confessing things that I have confessed many times before. I hate it when that happens. It makes me feel like and an idiot. Even worse, it makes me feel like I'm taking advantage of my savior's sacrifice.
So this morning I felt like Peter asking Jesus how many times he should forgive someone: "Seven times?" Jesus replied that he must forgive not seven times but seventy times seven. Of course we all know that Jesus didn't literally mean 490 times, but he meant as much as it takes. My question to Jesus was similar but different. I asked him "Lord, how many times will you forgive me?" Immediately after the words left my mouth, I remembered this passage of Scripture and expected that God was giving my answer. And so I asked "seventy times seven?" But it was in that moment that my Lord spoke clearly and unmistakably shattering my preconceived answers. The conversation went something like this:
How many times, Lord? Seventy times seven?
No, my son.
Only once?! How can that be?
Once is all that is needed. When I was on the cross, I forgave you of all your sins. Past. Present. And future. A number of years ago, when you entered into relationship with me that forgiveness was appropriated once and for all. Once is enough. I am not a man that I should revoke my forgiveness. I know the sins that you have not yet committed, and they are already forgiven. Once is sufficient. My forgiveness is ultimate and infinite. The breadth of my forgiveness cannot be spanned. The depth of my forgiveness cannot be plumbed. Your confession and repentance is all that is needed. In your confession you agree with me by your words. In your repentance you agree with me by your actions. When you sin, it's not about that sin in particular. I'm not keeping a list of the good and bad things that you do. It's about our relationship. It's always been about relationship from the very beginning. When you sin and come back to me, it's not about appropriating forgiveness. It has already been appropriated. It's about removing the things that hinder our relationship. If you think that you are justified in your sin and cannot admit that I am right and you are wrong our relationship has been hindered. By virtue of turning to sin, you turn away from me. So until you repent of your sin and turn back toward me, there can be no restoration of our relationship. And until you can admit that you are wrong, you cannot turn back. There is no restoration without repentance, and there is no true repentance until there is confession. But please don't mistake this for forgiveness. I forgave you 2000 years ago when your sin placed me on that cross. And there is nothing that you can do to cause me to revoke my forgiveness. So rest, my son. Rest in me. Rest in my unfailing unchanging faithfulness toward you.