«If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness» (l John 1 :9).
The Limits of Forgiveness is the English title of the book that Simon Wiesenthal wrote in first person. The plot focuses on the story of a young Jew who was sent to concentration camp during the Nazi years. The young man was assigned to clean the operation room of an army hospital.
Later on after the war, an officer of the Defense Squad «Schutzstaffel» (SS by its German acronym) was dying. In his eagerness to sooth his conscience, he asked the nurse find him a Jew in order to confess his guilt and ask for forgiveness on behalf of his race. She then called for Simon, who got close to the Nazi’s bunk bed. On his deathbed, the military officer confessed that, despite growing up in a Catholic family who opposed anti-Semitic values, Hitler’s influence made him enroll in the SS. Thus, he was able to be part of numerous atrocities such as the burning of a house with more than three hundred people inside it, including children, women and elderly people. But without asking for any reasons, Simon immediately ran out of the room.
Various ethical dilemmas are posed in this story. Is it possible to forgive a remorseful criminal? Is it possible to forgive the offenses committed against other people?
The Bible says, «If we confess our sins, He [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness» (1 John 1:9). God certainly can forgive a repentant criminal even if his victim(s) will never do it. However, there are some people who confess their sins to strangers who are not directly related to the offense, and they are left without peace or forgiveness. Such is the case of Judas, the treacherous disciple. When he saw that Jesus was prosecuted, he went to the temple and with remorse confessed «to the chief priests and elders, saying, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood’ » (Matt. 27:3-4. Leaving the temple, he departed with the same guilt and, filled with remorse, hanged himself (v. 5).
Confessing our sins to one another is only necessary between the offended person and the offender (James 5:16). When we harm somebody and caused God to grieve, then we must confess to Him all our transgressions in order to receive complete forgiveness.
Have you confessed all your offenses? Have you asked for forgiveness from the ones you armed? Seek God first. His forgiveness is granted. Now ask Him for courage and humbleness in order to confess your fault before somebody who needs to hear your apology.