“Forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us” (Luke 11:4).
This does not refer to a sinner’s forgiveness when he first comes to the knowledge of the Lord, but to the disciple under the daily government of His Father. The forgiveness of a child is all that is spoken of here—the removal of what hinders communion. The particular sin which grieves the Lord is not forgiven until we confess it to Him. It is, therefore, the habitual need of the soul, just as the daily bread was that of the body.
“For we also forgive.” God does hold His children to this. How can a man who does not forgive another pretend to enjoy the forgiveness of his own sins before God? “If ye do not forgive,” says our Lord in Mark 11:26, “neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your tresspasses.” To be unforgiving is to cherish a spirit entirely antagonistic to the Spirit of the Lord. If there were a child in a family going on in a course of self-will, there would be a hindrance to mutual good feeling. So it is with God our Father; so long as there is a bad spirit towards another, the Father cannot restore communion and daily intercourse with Himself.
In the Epistles the remedy takes the form of confession, which goes far deeper. To ask forgiveness is easy enough, and quickly done; to confess one’s fault in all its gravity is a very humiliating process, and if not done with a view to forgiveness and the restoration of communion, it is a mockery of God. To confess, to judge oneself, is therefore far beyond asking forgiveness.
—Adapted from An Exposition of the Gospel of Luke by William Kelly.