“Have mercy on me, O God … Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” (Psalm 51:1-2)
This petition of the Lord’s Prayer has two versions. Matthew quotes Jesus as saying, “Forgive us our debts” (Matthew 6:12), and Luke quotes him as saying, “Forgive us our sins” (Luke 11:4). Either way, “debts” and “sins” — and also “trespasses” — describe how seriously we fall short before God and how much we need his grace.
The good news, thankfully, is that Jesus paid our debt of sin for us, and when we confess our sins in Jesus’ name, God forgives us.
So we might wonder, “If we have been forgiven, why does Jesus teach us to keep asking God for forgiveness?” Well, the problem is that we still struggle with sin. Ultimately we are forgiven. But, like wayward children, we continue to make offenses each day — against God and against people.
So we must turn daily to our heavenly Father, seeking his compassion and nurturing care so that we can keep growing to become like his Son, Jesus Christ. When we daily ask God to forgive us our sins, we are seeking to grow in honoring and serving him in the world.
Father in heaven, we are so grateful that, by your grace and mercy, Jesus has paid the debt of all our sins. Help us in our daily struggles to live more and more for you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.