What Would We Ask God? - Why Do We Fail and Yet You Keep Forgiving Us?

The last of my magazine articles on the top questions people in our congregations wanted to ask God.

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It's the final question of our series on questions we would ask God and it's a great one to finish on: Why do we fail and yet you keep forgiving us?

First, this question is very realistic about what we're like as Christians. Although, in God's strength, we do make progress in our holiness, this side of heaven we will continue to sin. Paul describes the battle within us: “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want” (Galatians 5:17 NIV). Similarly John writes to Christians: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8 NIV). Christians continue to sin.

Second, this question describes God's gracious nature very well. He does keep forgiving us, despite our failures. John follows up his statement about us sinning with this wonderful verse: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NIV). God does keep forgiving us.

One interesting thing about this verse is how it describes God – he is faithful and just. In the Bible, God being faithful is usually a way of saying he keeps his covenant (his promised agreement with his people). Back in Jeremiah, the Lord declared that he would bring in a new covenant where he “will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:34 NIV). That new covenant came in with Jesus, particularly his death and resurrection (see Luke 22:20). So God keeps forgiving us, because he is faithful in keeping his covenant with us, in Jesus.

God also keeps forgiving us because he is just, which seems odd. Justice would normally demand that we were punished when we did things wrong, not that we were forgiven. But this is why the new covenant is tied to the death of Christ. If we have faith in Jesus, then Jesus' death on the cross took God's punishment for and anger at our sin and made us righteous instead of guilty before God (Romans 3:25-26). If our sin is already dealt with by Jesus, then the only just thing for God to do is to forgive us our sin when we confess. As John Stott writes: “he is faithful to forgive because he has promised to do so, and just because his Son died for our sins.”

Perhaps you are reading this and have never trusted in Jesus and his death for your sins. If that's the case, then let me plead with you to trust him. Without faith in him, there is no forgiveness, no relationship with God and no eternal life. Do talk to me or to Richard if you want to know more.

If you are a Christian, this is good news of certain forgiveness, for which we should give thanks to God. It is also a challenge, both to confess our sins and in God's strength, to turn from them.

So that's the end of our top ten questions we would like to ask God. Although we'll be able to spend eternity with God getting to grips with them, I hope I've got some way towards answers from what God has already told us in the Bible. If you want to talk to me about any of them, or if you've got any other questions then do come and talk to me.

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