85] And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. 91] Let no one think that as long as he lives here he can reach such a position that he will not need such forgiveness (1 John 1:8). In short, if God does not forgive without stopping, we are lost. 92] It is, therefore, the intent of this petition that God would not regard our sins and hold up to us what we daily deserve. But we pray He would deal graciously with us, and forgive, as He has promised, and so grant us a joyful and confident conscience to stand before Him in prayer (Hebrews 10:22). For where the heart is not in a right relationship with God, or cannot take such confidence, it will not dare to pray anymore. Such a confident and joyful heart can spring from nothing else than the certain knowledge of the forgiveness of sin (Psalm 32:1-2; Romans 4:7-8). 93] There is here attached a necessary, yet comforting addition: "As we forgive." He has promised that we shall be sure that everything is forgiven and pardoned, in the way that we also forgive our neighbor. 94] Just as we daily sin much against God, and yet He forgives everything through grace, so we, too, must ever forgive our neighbor who does us injury, violence, and wrong, shows malice toward us, and so on. 95] If, therefore, you do not forgive, then do not think that God forgives you (Matthew 18:23-35). But if you forgive, you have this comfort and assurance, that you are forgiven in heaven. This is not because of your forgiving. For God forgives freely and without condition, out of pure grace, because He has so promised, as the Gospel teaches. But God says this in order that He may establish forgiveness as our confirmation and assurance, as a sign alongside of the promise, which agrees with this prayer in Luke 6:3, "Forgive, and you will be forgiven." Therefore, Christ also repeats it soon after the Lord's Prayer, and says in Matthew 6:14, "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you," and so on. 97] This sign is therefore attached to this petition. When we pray, we remember the promise and think, "Dear Father, for this reason I come and pray for You to forgive me, not so that I can make satisfaction or can merit anything by my works. I pray because You have promised and attached the seal to this prayer that I should be as sure about it as though I had Absolution pronounced by You Yourself." 98] …. It is especially given for this purpose, so that we may use and practice forgiveness every hour, as a thing that we have with us at all times.
Condensed from CONCORDIA: THE LUTHERAN CONFESSIONS, copyright 2005,2006 by Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission. All rights reserved. To purchase a copy of CONCORDIA, call 800-325-3040.
Lord grant you faith in His grace alone for your salvation unto eternal life. Amen