Forgive us our Sins…
Once more to the Lord’s Prayer!
Q. 105 What do we pray for in the fifth petition?
A. In the fifth petition, (which is, And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors, (Matt. 6:12)) we pray, That God, for Christ’s sake, would freely pardon all our sins; (Ps. 51:1–2,7,9, Dan. 9:17–19) which we are the rather encouraged to ask, because by his grace we are enabled from the heart to forgive others. (Luke 11:4, Matt. 18:35)
Here’s a thing. When we say the Lord’s prayer we pray that our sins might be forgiven, but the Greek text in fact speaks of our debts being forgiven. This is interesting because it challenges our view of sin. Whilst we acknowledge that some sin can hurt other people, by and large we think that the sin we commit doesn’t really hurt anyone.
So why the language of debt? It reminds us that sin actually puts us in debt to God. He is the one who is sinned against, since it is his laws that we break. So we ask him for forgiveness, and then the grace to imitate his forgiveness. We become a channel through which forgiveness flows from God, through us, to those who have sinned against us.
That is the logic of that vital two letter word: “as”. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Never overlook the “as”!