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  • Pastor Charlie Rivens

Conditions for Forgiveness: Psalm 103:8-13


Scripture speaks of two primary conditions for forgiveness. First, it speaks of faith in God as a prerequisite for forgiveness. In Scripture, faith is a multifaceted concept. But in this context, when we speak of faith in God, we have in mind:

Acknowledgement of God’s divine sovereignty, loyal submission to him, and trust that he will show us mercy for the sake of our redeemer Jesus Christ.

Although it may sound strange to modern ears, Scripture often refers to this type of faith as the “fear of God.”


For example, Psalm 103:8-13 describes the conditional nature of forgiveness in this way:

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him (Psalm 103:8-13).

Notice that it’s those who fear the Lord that receive his forgiveness, whose transgressions are removed.


This same idea is found throughout the Bible. For instance, we find it in 2 Chronicles 30:18-19, the Lord is said to pardon the people who set their hearts on seeking him. In Mark 4:12, Jesus indicated that only those who perceive and understand the Lord can turn to him for forgiveness. And in Acts 26:17-18, forgiveness can only be had by those whose eyes have been opened to the truth of the Lord’s glory and power.


The second ordinary condition of forgiveness found in Scripture is brokenness. Brokenness is:

Genuine sorrow over sin; true regret over violating God’s law.

It’s not simply sorrow over being caught or punished, but agreement that the Lord’s requirements are holy, and broken-heartedness over having failed to honor him. 

In terms of contrition, we are meant, you and I, to sense the guilt of our sin. I think of David after he’d sinned with Bathsheba. Yes he had sinned against Bathsheba, and he had sinned against Bathsheba’s husband. He had sinned against the church of the Old Testament, but ultimately “against thee, thee only, have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight.” And you sense something of the contrition of his heart. The modern term, I think, is “brokenness,” and we need the word, by the Spirit, to break us, to break us in the presence of God. – Dr. Derek W. H. Thomas

Holy Bible App.


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