Our theology regarding justification is often revealed by how we embrace God’s forgiveness when we sin. On the one hand, we may say that we heartily affirm the orthodox doctrine of justification by faith (i.e. that we are accepted as perfectly righteous before God by our trust in Christ, without the aid of good works), but on the other hand, when we fall into sin and subsequently call out to God in repentance, we often feel as though God’s forgiveness cannot be fully experienced until we have performed some act of penance or have done enough “time” in some kind of spiritual detention. It is important to recognize that God’s forgiveness initially granted to adopted spiritual newborns as well as to failing spiritual teenagers is granted on the same exact basis – the finished work of Christ on the cross! While there may be some human restitution to be made there is not a single ounce of relational atonement or spiritual reparation to be made to God. Christ has done it all. He paid for the sins he knew you would commit after your conversion and they have been covered by the sufferings of Christ. You cannot “earn” God’s forgiveness as a Christian any more than a non-Christian can earn it. Forgiveness is a gift of divine grace! It is embraced by penitent people solely on the basis of faith. So don’t doubt it. Embrace it, praising God that Jesus paid it all.