Notes for Receiving God’s Forgiveness: Knowing our Need
Presented by Sarah Colyn
This session addresses the failure to receive God’s forgiveness by considering those who do not recognize their need to be forgiven. These notes outline the basic flow of the teaching and contain the full text and reference for scriptures and quotations. At the bottom of the notes are resources for further exploration of this topic.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I John 1:9
We need to know we’re sinners
Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. Luke 5:31-32
Cultural influence, bad theology, or inner denial and pride may block our awareness of the “bad guy” within, and this blindness can be worsened by a super-religious attitude.
“If the Divine call does not make us better, it will make us very much worse” (Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms, 31).
“We must know and acknowledge our two identities — that of sinner and saint. Our prime identity, of course, is that of saint… But the rhythm of repentance and reception of forgiveness must be woven into every life. We are always to rise up from confession in our prime identity, having received forgiveness” (Payne, Restoring the Christian Soul, 145).
Search me, O God, and know my heart, Test me and know my anxious thoughts; See if there be any offensive way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting. Ps 139:23,24
We need to be in touch with our hearts
Self-analysis or an activistic state can thwart authentic prayer and block us from receiving the forgiveness God is offering.
Our hearts must be open
Like the dwarfs in The Last Battle, our hearts may be closed off through cynical self-protection: “The dwarfs are for the dwarfs. We won’t be taken in… You wanted to make use of us. That’s why you rescued us” (Lewis, 73).
As Aslan explained to Lucy, a closed heart can refuse to receive God’s grace: “You see, they will not let us help them. They have chosen cunning instead of belief. Their prison is only in their own minds, yet they are in that prison; and so afraid of being taken in that they can not be taken out” (ibid, 148).
We must agree with God about sin
In order to receive God’s forgiveness, we must will to turn from our sin. The Spirit can revive a seared conscience, restoring our ability to feel compunction and choose repentance.
Resources on this topic:
Chapter nine of Leanne Payne’s Restoring the Christian Soul through Healing Prayer, “Third Great Barrier to Wholeness in Christ: Failure to Receive Forgiveness”
“Removing Barriers to Wholeness: Receiving God’s Forgiveness” lecture and prayer live audio recording from an MPC school held in Wheaton, IL in 2019.