Insults were being hurled at Him. The crowd yelled, “Crucify Him!” A mob mentality had overtaken the crowd and no one was repentive. But although He was the object of this momentary anger, He looked at the crowd and prayed to the Father, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34 NIV)
With this statement began a new covenant of forgiveness. When you are in Christ you are perpetually, eternally, forgiven – past, present, future. Forgiveness by God is not something we have to work for, fight for, or earn. We are forgiven by the blood of the cross.
Paul encourages us to “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13 NIV). So we extend forgiveness freely, without any requirements from the other person – no apology needed, no recognition of wrong, no repentance – we forgive because that is how we are forgiven.
You maybe wondering, what about repentance and godly sorrow? I believe when we err, the Holy Spirit will lead us to a place of repentance and godly sorrow. This is about Him growing our character and cultivating relationship with us. Repentance means to change one’s way of thinking. This is actually a work of the Holy Spirit who constantly reminds us of who we are called to be – holy, royal priesthood, sanctified. We meditate on God’s word until we believe what God says about us.
Godly sorrow leads us to God. Godly sorrow leads us to repentance. Godly sorrow causes us to run into His arms to find grace and mercy. The counterfeit to godly sorrow is condemnation and guilt. This causes us to look inward, to feel bad about ourselves, to wallow in the sin. When we believe we must earn forgiveness, we often end up wallowing in the sin.
But whether you experience repentance or godly sorrow, know you are freely forgiven. So we approach God from this viewpoint. God is not holding out on you, waiting for you to confess some deep dark secret before you can be forgiven and restored, before you can walk in your destiny. You are freely forgiven. Walk in this freedom.