In what is commonly called the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus told us to pray the following:
…forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.*
Is God’s forgiveness conditional or unconditional? Absolutely!
Whenever one suggests that God’s forgiveness is unconditional, there’s always somebody who will bring up 1 John 1:9: “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 is between verse 8 and 10 – duh, I know but hear me out.
These three verses are saying the same thing. Verse 8 and 10 are from a negative position: Verse 8: If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. Verse 10: If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. Verse 9 is the positive: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
This is not referring to specific sin but that we acknowledge that we are sinners through and through and we need a Saviour who can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
This seemingly conditional text actually affirms God’s unconditional forgiveness, love and salvation. It is out of understanding that I am already forgiven that I obtain the courage to face my failures. God’s grace empowers me to confess because I know he accepts me as I am and confession has been given to us as a blessing; a reality check on my need for God in my life.