Series: Student Ministry: The Sermon on the Mount

How often do you sin? How often do I sin? Sin and its relation to prayer with God is something that we have to consider when praying. And here, Jesus tells us how we are to think about our sin and pray about it.

Jesus says here that we are to pray, “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” Now, let’s think about what that means. We will be looking at Matthew 6:12.

Forgive Us Our Sins


This petition is asking God to forgive us for our sins. This petition causes us to think through some of our basic Christian beliefs for a moment, but after we do this we understand this petition with much greater clarity.

Christians, those who have trusted in Christ, have their total salvation in Him. This salvation is complete, lacking nothing. God is pleased to forgive us through His perfect work for us. So, why is it that we ask for forgiveness?

There is a difference between considering ultimate forgiveness and forgiveness of sins that we feel turmoil or guilt for committing. We have been adopted into God’s family. God has made a declaration concerning our relationship to Him. He declared us to be in His family and it was so.

This is similar to today when the final decision of adoption is made. At the adoption hearing the judge looks at the family and child wanting to be adopted and says whether or not it is so. And based on his decision it is or is not so. The judge’s speech act makes it so. Similarly, God’s speech act makes it so. God declares us to be His. And because He has declared it, it is so. God declares our sins forgiven, and because He declares it, it is so. God declares us righteous, and because He declares it, it is so. We are God’s people and we are righteous, not based on anything that we have done but because of God. Based on the finished work of Christ God has made this declaration of us and it is so.

Now, why are we asking for forgiveness? Two reasons. The first, we can be forgiven and are forgiven based on the finished work of Christ. I can go to God in prayer and plead for forgiveness and it is truly given to me. Second, sin does separate us from God. We are already forgiven, but there is a sense of separation from God that comes from our disobedience. This can be illustrated by talking about parents. We oftentimes do things that anger our family, but this does not rupture the relationship. We apologize and come back to them. The same holds true for God who is the perfect Father. And we can be sure that God has forgiven because of His faithfulness.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”—1 John 1:9 HCSB

As We Forgive Those Who Sin Against Us


This is a very simple concept. Forgiven people forgive. We are people who have rebelled against God and forgiven for it at the cost of God’s own Son. Because we have been forgiven so much, it is only natural for us to forgive others when we are wronged. Jesus tells us a parable to help us understand this concept in Matthew 18:21-35. The one who had been forgiven much should have forgiven because of the tremendous amount that he had himself been forgiven. And it is the same with us because forgiven people forgive.

Forgiven people forgive because God has forgiven us a tremendous debt and because God has given us new life in Christ. We are not as we once were. We are made able to do what is right through the new life that we have been given in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). We now want to forgive because God has forgiven us and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we forgive others.

Words of Wisdom To End On

Two catechisms state this quite well and I think we will close with these. Catechisms are a question and answer way of learning Bible Truths. Here the question is about the meaning of this passage. What does it mean to “forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors”. Both sum this up quite well.

The first is Keach’s Catechism. It is a Baptist Catechism based on the 1689 London Baptist Confession. And it sums up quite nicely what is meant here.

“And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,” we pray that God, for Christ’s sake, would freely pardon all our sins; which we are the rather encouraged to ask, because by His grace we are enabled from the heart to forgive others.”—Keach’s Catechism

The second is from the Heidelberg Catechism which is a few years older (1563). It sums up this petition of the Lord’s Prayer like this:

“And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”; that is, be pleased for the sake of Christ’s blood, not to impute to us poor sinners, our transgressions, nor that depravity, which always cleaves to us; even as we feel this evidence of thy grace in us, that it is our firm resolution from the heart to forgive our neighbor.”—Heidelberg Catechism Question # 126

R. Dwain Minor