The Simplicity of Receiving Forgiveness

After Nathan confronted David head-on for his sins of adultery with Bathsheba and murdering her husband, David’s response was short and to the point, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13).

There was no justification, explanation, or denial; no talk of being sorry about his sin. David simply confessed that what he did was wrong. Immediately after, Nathan told David “The Lord has taken away your sin.”

When the prodigal son was on his way home to his father, he planned to confess his transgressions with a speech: “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men” (Luke 15:18). After his father charged his son and gave him a bear hug, his son started into his confession. As the words “I am no longer worthy to be called your son” were out of his mouth, the father cut him off son and started the party in celebration of his return. The son never got a chance to offer to be treated like an employee.

1 John 1:9 shows us how to find cleansing and forgiveness: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

As the stories and verses above show, the only requirement for believers in Christ to receive forgiveness is to confess them. Today, this still amazes me. There are times when I blow it badly and I feel like I need to explain what happened, or trudge through the mud of shame, guilt, or condemnation, but Scripture calls for none of that; just a simple act of confession.

Receiving forgiveness was even harder for me when sexual sin ruled my life. My prayers of confession were often accompanied by groveling and asking God to “please forgive me.” Neither groveling nor begging are required to receive forgiveness.

Neither is feeling sorry for our sins. I felt sorry for my sexual sin hundreds of times, but that never kept me from repeating it. Breaking free from bondage to sin involves the power and work of the Holy Spirit, brokenness, and a no-compromise attitude with sin. However, none of these things in of themselves are what releases the flow of God’s forgiveness to me. According to Scripture, it’s confession of sin, with the understanding that it’s the blood of Christ alone that provides atonement.

The thing about groveling, begging, justification, explanation, or denial is that these things put the focus on me. I’m focused on how rotten I feel, or perhaps I try to offer an explanation so I won’t look so bad. Pride. What made David’s response so great was that he didn’t blame anyone else. When I simply say “I sinned,” I’m taking 100% ownership of my wrong.

Simple confession takes humility because it takes me out of the equation. My eyes are forced to gaze on Christ’s as I admit my wrong, and then I need to accept His gift of forgiveness, which cost Him everything. More humility. I hurt the Lord with my sin, and He gives me a gift. I can’t earn a shred of it by beating myself up, which might even be an insult to Him.

The next time you stumble in sexual (or any other kind of sin), remember that simple confession to God is all that’s required to receive forgiveness.

It should be so with people, but we’re too messed up with pride to forgive as freely and quickly as Christ does. Think of a married couple; if one party hurts the other and merely says “I hurt you and was wrong” without all the explanation, deflection, or justification, it would save countless hours and an immense amount of stress and turmoil.

We need humility, which is impossible to live out apart from the grace and help of God.

7 responses to “The Simplicity of Receiving Forgiveness”

  1. Hello mike. Thank you for giving us a site that talks through kind Christian voice, that makes sense. Your speak in such a genuine kind -hearted tone. I enjoyed the messages because you did not use ugly scolding language as many marriage sites do.
    I especially liked and needed the article about wives not being to blame for their husbands ‘ sins. Women have enough sins to work on, without carrying someone else’s. We are often blamed and scolded in some hurtful ways, from Internet marriage counselors, many of whom are female.

    • Hi Beryl –

      Thanks for commenting. Sadly, what you’ve experienced about counselors and others blaming the wife for the husband’s choice to turn to sexual sin isn’t rare. The insane thing is that wives don’t want their husbands to use porn, yet they get blamed for it.

  2. Mike, I have been reading your entries for sometime. Unfortunately, after 7 years total of trying, I couldn’t get my ex to do the same. In any case, my children and I have been set free of a life filled with fear, rage, and adulterous self-centered ness via my ex’s addiction to porn (& beyond). Your articles, though I didn’t always comment truly assisted ME, as a woman/wife in these sad situations, that it clearly WASN’T MY FAULT. Thank you for continuing to share that TRUTH.
    I am an independent mother of two, happily. I have had a past full of addiction and worked with Jesus & leaders in my community to become completely FREE from them, over 8 years now. There is however, what I call ‘life after addiction’ lol that happens uncontrollably around us all. For me control is a huge issue (esp. w/raising kids as you,ve shared), & I am just now beginning what I feel is a completely new chapter with Jesus in my life now! The stories and experiences you share here, keep me connected with the issues I am working on, help keep me focused on the One that matters most, & assist me with my somedays faltering faith. Please know that regardless of the ‘additction’ or situation, your articles give me/others strength and relation through your experience. Please never stop doing what you’re doing!
    Canadian Mom, j9;)

    • Hi Canadian Mom –

      Thanks for sharing the journey you’ve been on. It grieves me to hear the direction your husband took.
      Jesus has shown me many times in my own life that He’s great at picking up the pieces and making something new. These verses came to mind as I read what you said about the new chapter in your life:

      “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will announce My words to you.” Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make.”
      Jeremiah 18:2-4

      It sounds like God is making you into another vessel, one with hope for the future. He knows the painful journey you’ve been on and He can use that pain as part of His fashioning tool, and redeem it.
      Be at peace to know He is with you and will never leave nor forsake you. God uses people like you who have been through a deep valley to encourage others.

    • just read your blog
      I hope all is well I am from Canada as well
      I am in the middle of the fire
      husband pornography, prostitutes adultery
      roller coaster
      this is the third time
      of fasting crying hoping believing
      husband repented
      welcome your prayers
      I am not free

  3. I know the story of David…but he sinned just once with sexual sin…I sinned so many times by looking at porn and masturbating.Every time I tried to confess and read the bible amd pray again…but after that I fail again and again.I think my problem is stress and rejection.I had a girl friend and we wanted to marry but she left me because she wanted to giv herself to the Lord 3 or 4 years without me .I understood that and I accepted but when the isolation hit me..and she was rejecting me and didnt want to talk with me…i ended up in porn…Please pray for me and give me some advice

    • Hi Peteo – Thanks for sharing your story. Are you walking this road alone, or do you have another guy who you can break out of isolation with and pray with? I would encourage you to consider our men’s course/group. You would be assigned an accountability partner, and the course will give you the Biblical tools to overcome temptation and help you work through the heart issues you’ve brought up.

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