If I ask you, “What is the first prayer we are sure God answers, most of us would say, “It’s the sinner’s prayer”. But what exactly is “the sinner’s prayer”? In the Scriptures we see people, such as the publican in Luke 18:9-14 is commended for beating his breast and praying “Lord forgive me, as sinner”. In 1 John 1:9, we are told that if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive”.
In Luke 18:9-14, in vs 9-12 [Jesus] tells us this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt. Jesus goes on to tell of two men, one of whom has a “religious” job title. His prayer extols his own virtues before God, and he thanks God that he is not a sinner and recites how he is “not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers. He self-righteously cites how he fasts twice a week, and tithes”.
In vs 13-14 Jesus illustrates what we would consider to be “the sinners prayer” and He relates how a tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, “God be merciful to me, a sinner!”. In vs 14, Christ says, “I tell you, this ma went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
In John 16:8, Jesus explains the work of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world of 3 thinks: sin, righteousness and judgement. Without this work, one cannot say, “The Sinners Prayer”. God’s Spirit works to convince us of 3 things, which in order are:
- That we are sinners, – meaning that each of us have offended God by violating His laws and commands, particularly the 10 Commands. We also have not loved our neighbor as ourselves, turned the other cheek, nor forgiven people who’ve hurt us, the way we want God to forgive us for what we have done.
- God’s Spirit works to help us understand that through the salvation God worked through Christ on the Cross, who paid the penalty for our sin, we can have Christ’s righteousness imputed to us.
- The 3rd work of the Holy Spirit is to convict or convince us that If we reject God’s provision of the atoning, substitutionary death of Christ on the Cross, we are standing in judgment (John 3:18) that is more certain the ground upon which we stand or the furniture or car in which we sit. For the Bible says in James that all flesh is like a vapor. Life on earth It is ethereal; it is passing away – lie the morning mist under each day’s sunlight.
The most loving thing we can do as Christians for other people is tell them about how Christ died for their sins, so they believe and become beneficiaries of John 3:16.