So, I wonder, does God's love for us mean that we never have to ask for forgiveness? Will He always forgive whether we ask for it or not? The answer is not as simple as one might think.
The question of asking for forgiveness was one that haunted Martin Luther. As a Roman Catholic monk he was obsessed with confessing his sins and frustrated by his inability to remember all of his sins when he confessed them to his priest. Of course this journey, laced with frustration, ultimately led him to the revelation that one is justified before God by faith.
So what about this need to say that you are sorry.. and say it to God? Is the journey all about faith.. is it just living a positive journey of believing in God.. does God require us to say we are sorry.. and what about people who don't believe and don't pray? If we Christians don't need to ask for forgiveness then why should anyone be required to ask for forgiveness?
Of course I could say that asking for forgiveness is a part of the Lord's prayer.. depending on your denominational persuasion, we are instructed to ask forgiveness for our trespasses (sins) or debts.. as we forgive others of like offenses. So is forgiveness just an issue of living at peace with God and each other?
Some often paint the picture the way that Jonathan Edwards once did as "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God". These often present repentance and forgiveness as something God requires because He is mad at humanity. In this picture asking for forgiveness is an act of appeasement and is done if fear.
I think that the heart of asking for forgiveness is humility. I think that it might be an evidence of pride if one does not feel the need to ask for forgiveness. When I think about this I think of what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit:
And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (John 16:8-11)I think that this is the essence of asking for forgiveness - responding to the convicting voice of the Spirit.. a voice that leaves us without excuse.. one that speaks to us in a firm and quiet voice of our need to be forgiven.. a voice heard by Christians and others as well.
I think that it is an arrogant person who quenches that voice and refuses to acknowledge their need to ask for forgiveness. Truly, in a sense, love means wanting to say that you are sorry.