The Lord’s Prayer and Forgiveness

How does the Lord’s prayer, and the following two verses relate to the concept of forgivenss?  Is forgivness earned?  I will break a Fresh Read rule and drop in an extended quote from Martin Luther’s sermons on the Sermon on the Mount.  (Luther’s Works, vol 21, P. 149-150)

“In this passage, similarly, the outward forgiveness that I show in my deeds is a sure sign that I have the forgiveness of sin in the sight of God.  On the other hand, if I do not show this in my relations with my neighbor, I have a sure sign that I do not have the forgiveness of sin in the sight of God but am still stuck in my unbelief. You see, this is the twofold forgiveness; one inward in the heart, clinging only to the Word of God; and one outward, breaking forth and assuring us that we have the inward one.  This is how we distinguish works as outward righteousness from faith as inward righteousness, but in such a way that the inward has precedence as the stem and root from which the good words must grow as fruit….Whoever lacks the inward righteousness does not do any of the outward works.  On the other hand, where the outward signs and proofs are lacking, I can not be sure of the inward, but I am deceiving both myself and others.  But if I look and find myself gladly forgiving my neighbor, then I can draw this conclusion and say: ‘I am not doing this work naturally, but by the grace of God I feel different from the way I used to be.’”


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