Forgive Us Our Debts


“And forgive[i] us our debts[ii]….” (Matt. 6:11[iii])

Jesus taught us to pray along the lines of the Lord’s Prayer After acknowledging God, Our Father who is in heaven, and praying that Gods’s kingdom come, and for God’s will to be done, Jesus instructed us to pray that His will be done on earth as it is heaven. But then, Jesus gets to where we live, instructing to pray that God give us our daily bread, which means more than food, and for forgiveness of our sins.

We need to ask. God promises to forgive us if we ask. (1 Jn. 1:9) It is important to us that ask. When we confess our sins and ask for God’s forgiveness, He is faithful to forgives us.

Our modern world, like never before, has exalted the power of the individual person, individual rights, individual freedoms and individual destiny while downplaying or even rejecting the idea of individual accountability and sin. The moral relativism of the last century has given away to tolerance of nearly anything and everything. Our society has rejected the idea of a Supreme Judge; trading the idea for being our own judges.

The Lord’s Prayer brings us back to the reality that we do not live as we ought. Something isn’t right in our relationship to God, and we need God to make it right.

It is no wonder that atheism, though still a minority belief, is on the rise. We want to throw off the shackles of “obsolete” religious dogma and be free to do what want to do.

The problem, of course, is that we are not the captains of our own souls. We did not create ourselves; we were created. And so, we are beholden to our Creator.

The freedom we want is illusory. The freedom we want is not ours to grasp. When we throw off self-restraint, we eventually find ourselves entangled in sin and the consequences of sin. The debts for which we ask forgiveness (release) are the consequences of the sin we choose when we go our own way.

It is not just the sin, but the consequences of the sin, that we need release from and which God offers… if we ask.

Without God, we have no hope; there is no way out; our sins entangle us because they are in us; they are part of us. Sin is, literally, missing the mark; it is not what God created us for!

The danger is, especially in modern society, that we have come to identify with our sin, and we think our sinfulness is who we are. God says it is not who we are; He created us for something else. We call this righteousness.

Our pride also does not like to concede that we are wrong and in need of help. Our pride, our identify and our unwillingness to yield ourselves stand in the way of God and forgiveness.

Confessing our sin brings us to the right understanding and right perspective that is necessary for us to be in right relation to God. We are not our own. God made us for His purpose. We owe God our allegiance, our very selves, but  we tend to withhold ourselves from God and try to exploit our lives for our own benefit. That changes when we acknowledge our sinfulness.

Confessing our sins is the way to freedom, both from sin and the ultimate consequence of sin. Confessing our sins eliminates the pride that gets in the way of yielding to God. Confessing our sins opens us up to the grace of God, the salvation that He offers and the redemptive work He is waiting to do in our lives.

God does not just invite us to ask for forgiveness from sin; He invites us, even instructs us, to ask for release from the consequences of sin. He invites us to ask for release from the debt of sin and release into a relationship with God in which He joyfully becomes our Father.

Amazing grace! Amazing love! How sweet the sound that God has saved a wretch like me!  When I am yielded to God I am free from self and the sin that so easily binds me! Thank you for your promise to release me from sin. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you Lord!

God also invites us to ask Him for deliverance from evil, which is the next article in the series on the Lord’s Prayer.


[i] 863/aphíēmi (from 575/apó, “away from” and hiēmi, “send”) – literally, send away; release (discharge). Aphiēmi is often translated “forgive” but its core-meaning is “send away,” i.e. releasing any desire to punish (take revenge, be punitive). Aphiēmi (“release, letting go”) means sending away all bitterness (ill-will, rancor).

[ii] 3783/opheílēma (a neuter noun) – the result of a debt, i.e. the after-effect of the obligation (note the -ma suffix). Opheilēma (“the residual effect of a debt”) envisions the linkages of sin which always bring “collateral (cumulative) damage,” i.e. what goes with being indebted to sin. Opheilēma is subtly different than 3781/opheilétēs (a masculine noun) which means a debtor; under obligation to pay back (discharge) what is owed. For believers, Christ paid all of our debt at Calvary, providing total release from the obligation to pay back the debt, forgiving the penalty of sin.

[iii] A shortened version of the Lord’s Prayer is found in Luke 11 in which Jesus says, “Forgive us our sins….” (v.4).


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