Have you ever noticed that when people say "I'm sorry" or "Excuse me" (at least in public) they don't really mean it? And before you think I'm talking about them - like all those people over there - I'm not. I'm talking about you.
Honestly, when you say "excuse me" to someone, do you really mean: "I am at your mercy. You could totally take issue with me. You have every right, because I have done wrong. Please, according to your graciousness, excuse me of this terrible thing that I've done, that I promise to never do again."
No, you don't.
You probably mean something along the lines of "I didn't mean to do that. Hopefully your not too offended by my inadvertent selfishness."
We've changed the meaning of the words, haven't we? We don't really mean "excuse me". We don't really consider ourselves under the judgment of the other person. We expect them to politely return our social nicety, and nothing more.
The problem is that this starts to influence the way we look at forgiveness. It makes us think we deserve it. Like it is due to us because we've said the right thing, or followed the proper protocol. Can you imagine what you would think if someone said, "I certainly will not excuse you. I hold this on you"? You'd probably think "HOW RUDE!"
Now, put this whole forgiveness discussion into the relationship you have with God. Do you think He changes the meaning of words for social niceness? Do you think He views the process like its some sort of vending machine - put in the right words here and out pops forgiveness? "I'm sorry God. I sinned. Now where is my forgiveness?"
Of course not.
In fact, I'm going to say a deeply shocking thing. You don't have a reason for God to forgive you. You don't have a reason - so He sent One. You don't have a reason - so He gave you One - and that reason is His Only Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
God doesn't forgive you because you say I'm sorry. He forgives you because of what Jesus did for you. Because He died for you. Because He rose for you.
God doesn't forgive you because you deserve it - you don't. He forgives you because that is who He is - a gracious God. A giving, loving merciful Father that wants to rescue His children from their foolish rebellion.
So don't let people tell you, "You have to confess your sins or God won't forgive you." That puts the focus on what you do - on your apology. NO - God declares His forgiveness to you and that is what frees you up to agree! You are right Lord. I am a sinner, through and through - but You are merciful. For the sake of Your Only Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on me. Forgive me, renew me and lead me, that I may delight in Your will and walk in your ways to the glory of Your holy Name. Amen.
Don't let the world form the way you understand forgiveness, because your Lord offers it to you now, even before you ask.