Seeing as how the diocesan DOK Lenten Retreat is coming up, I figured I'd dwell a bit on the topic of this year's retreat. Forgiveness. Let me ask and answer a few questions as if they were being posed to a child and using hypothetical examples. I want my meanings to be clear without using fancy language to make me sound ejumacated.
What is Forgiveness? To forgive means to accept that something went wrong. To know that human beings have the gift of free will, and will use it whether to good or ill of another human being. Then to begin a healing process of moving on for the better. To use an example, lets say I have a friend named Bob, who while visiting broke a precious figurine that is a reminder of happy childhood memories. Bob apologizes for breaking the figurine, explaining that he tripped on his shoelace and knocked it off of my desk when he reached out to steady himself. I understand that this was an accident, it was not something I could control, and while the figurine meant a lot to me, I treasure my friendship with Bob more. I then forgive Bob because he knew what he did was wrong, and I would rather keep a friend than be angry about a situation I cannot control.
What is a Sin? A sin is a wrongdoing. Webster's defines a sin as a "willful breaking of a religious or moral law." In this case I believe Webster's to be a bit off. A sin is a wrongdoing whether it is willful or not. There have been times when I have commited a sin without realizing it, and it was a sin just the same. We all sin, we are all sinners. The only perfect human to ever walk this earth was Jesus Christ. Just because we are all sinners does not mean we are bad people, we just tend to do bad things sometimes.
What is Repentance? Repentance is to acknowledge or admit that one has committed a sin, admit that it is in fact a sin, regret that the sin was committed, and then promise to avoid sin. To use an example, I admit that I cuss when I encounter poor drivers on the road. To emit such filth from my mouth is wrong, and the only ones who can hear my hateful words are myself and God. It doesn't do me any good to hear myself cuss, nor is God pleased with my hatefulness. I immediately regret saying the words, and vow to myself and God that I will clean up my act. I promise to control my anger at other drivers and instead say a prayer if I feel wronged by another driver.
So using these definitions, I have one more question to ask. Is it necessary for a Christian to repent of his/her sins to receive God's forgiveness?