How Do I Know God Has Forgiven My Sins?

Knowing you’re forgiven is a big part of finding freedom in Christianity. The Bible tells us that after we’ve prayed for God’s forgiveness, we can believe we’re forgiven and accept His gift of pardon.

But have you ever prayed for forgiveness, then felt the same after that? The same lingering guilt and remorse, or a sense of unworthiness before God or others?

You might’ve wondered how forgiveness works and how you can know for sure that your sins have been put away.

If that’s you, then here are three points from the Bible to help you have that assurance:

Let’s start by looking at how God views us when we come to Him in sorrow for our sins.

God’s sure promise to forgive you

The Bible has many promises of God’s eagerness to forgive our sins when we ask Him for that gift. He is more than willing to free us from our guilty consciences and give us the opportunity to live for Him (Hebrews 10:22). He doesn’t hold hard feelings toward us.

God longs to be in a close relationship with us.

But the one thing that comes between Him and us is sin. That’s why He made a way to restore that relationship with us through the sacrifice of Jesus.

When we confess our mistakes and receive Jesus’ goodness in place of our wrongdoing, we can be assured of the following promises:

He will blot out all our sins—no matter how bad they are

A father kissing the cheek of his little son, illustrating the love our heavenly Father has for usThe apostle John assures us that “If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, NKJV).

In fact, the Psalmist says that God is very merciful and pities us the way a father pities his child. When we make mistakes, He considers our frailty and vulnerability and remembers that we are made of dust. So He is “merciful and gracious.” And though our evil ways break His heart, He is still “slow to anger, and…will [not] keep His anger forever” (Psalm 103:8–9; Psalm 103:14, NKJV).

He invites us, saying, “Come now, and let us reason together,… though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18, NKJV).

He doesn’t treat us the way we deserve

Psalms 103:10 says that God doesn’t deal with us or punish us as our sins deserve.

Though we may feel very sinful and deserving of the worst, He looks at us with compassion. Even when the world around us may think we don’t deserve mercy, God remains gracious toward us and doesn’t handle us as we should be handled.

When He forgives us, He separates us from our sins

The Word of God says that when we ask for forgiveness, He forgives us and removes our sins from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).

The prophet Micah marveled at this incomparable capacity that God has to pardon us:

“Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:18–19, NKJV).

God sees us without our sins

And beyond forgiving us and separating us from our evil deeds, God says He will not remember them.

It’s not that God forgets our sins. After all, He knows everything. But his purpose in saying this is that He chooses to view us as though we had never committed that sin.

“I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25, NKJV).

“For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:34; Hebrews 8:12, NKJV).

Imagine that you’ve offended a friend, and when you sincerely apologize, the friend forgives you and never brings up that offense again. And they do it every time you make a mistake.

That’s how God relates to us when we ask for pardon.

Let’s see how we can experience this gift that God gives His beloved children.

How to receive forgiveness

A person kneeling before the cross of Jesus Christ asking for forgiveness of sinWhile God’s forgiveness to us is a gift, and there’s nothing we could ever do to deserve it or “make” Him forgive us, here are some steps we can take to receive that gift and be assured that it is ours.

And we don’t have to do it alone! The Holy Spirit walks with us through the whole process.

1. Repent and confess your sins to Him and ask for His forgiveness

God doesn’t force us to let go of our sins and seek reconciliation with Him.

Instead, He tenderly draws us to Himself through His lovingkindness (Jeremiah 31:3).

And as we see His goodness in contrast to our evil ways, we feel sorry for our wrongdoing and sincerely long for a closer walk with Him. This is called repentance.

His Spirit convicts us of our sins and leads us to confess them. As we do so, God receives us and gives us the gift of forgiveness (Romans 2:4; John 16:8).

So while His forgiveness is always available for us, we must feel our need for it and ask for it to receive it.

2. Forgive those who have hurt you

In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus instructed His disciples to pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12, CSB).

It’s not that we have to forgive others to earn God’s forgiveness. Rather, forgiving others shows that we have received His forgiveness. He said:

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14–15, NKJV).

And we should not just forgive once or twice, but as often as we are wronged (Matthew 18:21–22).

(Remember that forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean reconciliation, particularly with an abusive individual. Forgiveness is a way of allowing us to let go of bitterness and resentment toward another person while still maintaining healthy boundaries.)

As we receive God’s forgiveness, He asks us to extend that same mercy and grace to others. It’s one way we learn to be like Him as His children (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13; 2 Corinthians 2:3–11).

Now to the big question in your mind:

After you have asked for forgiveness, how do you know you are forgiven?

What if you don’t feel God has forgiven you?

A man with his hands to his face, struggling with feelings of guiltEven when we don’t feel like our sins are forgiven, we can remind ourselves that our feelings don’t always tell us the truth. God has indeed promised to forgive us, and He doesn’t change, so we can rest our full weight on that.

But feelings of guilt can seem so real!

They may continue to linger in our minds even after we’ve prayed. We may still feel shame, regret, and, unfortunately, a sense of condemnation from those around us.

In Mark 9, a man brought his demon-possessed son to Jesus for healing. Jesus told him that all he needed was to believe in His power to heal his son.

But the man felt he didn’t know how to overcome his unbelief, despite his deep desire to believe in Jesus. Knowing that so much was at stake for his son, he cried out with this sincere prayer:

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24, NKJV).

And his son was healed.

In the same way, we can come to God when our feelings conflict with our desire to believe in His saving grace.

And He encourages us, “Do not be afraid; only believe” (Mark 5:36, NKJV).

Even when we feel like we are drowning in unbelief, God’s Holy Spirit will help us trust His Word above our feelings when He says that the blood of Jesus Christ was shed “for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28, ESV).

Commenting on the story in Mark 9, Ellen White, one of the co-founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, writes:

“Many feel that they lack faith, and therefore they remain away from Christ. Let these souls, in their helpless unworthiness, cast themselves upon the mercy of their compassionate Savior. Look not to self, but to Christ. He who healed the sick and cast out demons when He walked among men is the same mighty Redeemer today. Faith comes by the Word of God. Then grasp His promise, ‘Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out’ (John 6:37). Cast yourself at His feet with the cry, ‘Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief.’ You can never perish while you do this—never.”1

Believe that your sins are forgiven. God loves you and has secured your salvation. And His promises of eternal life are possible for you.

Live like you’ve been forgiven

With the assurance of forgiveness, you can move forward and live as though you’ve received that gift.

Imagine one thing that you greatly desire but can’t afford. Then someone offers to buy it for you. They buy it, present it to you, and even leave it with you.

The gift is yours.

But if you don’t unpack it and begin enjoying it, then the whole process your friend has gone through to give it to you is useless.

All that’s left to do is accept the gift in a personal way and adjust your mindset and way of life to live as someone who owns the gift.

In the same way, our Lord Jesus has given us the gift of forgiveness at such a great cost. He left the glory of heaven and came to be our Savior from sin.

If you receive it, then you can begin to enjoy the blessings that come with knowing you are forgiven. The experience of peace and freedom is yours.

Forgiveness sets us free from condemnation

A man kneeling before the cross with arms out in thanksgiving for God's gaceThe blessing of knowing you are forgiven can best be described as an experience. And in both the Old Testament and the New Testament of the Bible, we find examples of individuals who experienced it.

Take David for example.

David was one of the greatest kings of Israel. God Himself referred to him as a man after His own heart (1 Samuel 13:14).

But at some point, he messed up—big time. He committed adultery with the wife of one of his faithful soldiers and tried to cover it up by ordering the soldier be murdered (2 Samuel 11).

Soon after, God rebuked him, and David realized the gravity of what he’d done. Overwhelmed with guilt, he went to God with tears of humility and prayed the prayer we find in Psalm 51.

When God forgave him, he described this experience in Psalm 32:

“How joyful is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How joyful is a person whom the Lord does not charge with iniquity and in whose spirit is no deceit!” (Psalm 32:1–2, CSB).

Forgiveness transformed him. He was relieved from the torment of sin and could experience the blessed peace of knowing he was forgiven (Psalm 32:3–5).

We may not have made the same mistakes as David, but the results of forgiveness are still the same: peace of mind and knowing in your heart that you are free from the condemnation of sin.

And Paul’s words will become true for you:

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1, NKJV).

Whenever Satan tries to harass you with feelings of guilt and shame, you can find refuge in these promises.

You can be grounded in the truth that in Christ, “we have…the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7, NKJV).

  1. White, Ellen G., Desire of Ages, (Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1898), p. 429. []

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