The single most unique and identifying characteristic of the Christian faith is its complete dependence on God’s grace and not man’s activity to effect spiritual transformation in a believer’s life. All other world religions and other various cults can be differentiated from “grace through faith” by their continuous call to “faith and…”.
Enter the ministry of God’s forgiveness to His followers. By simply turning one’s heart to the God of the universe and asking to be forgiven, made clean and renewed, it happens. Not because we deserve it or because circumstances “excused it (see the CS Lewis reference below, he writes extensively on the issue of forgiveness vs excusing)” but simply because He is full of grace towards us. Wow…starting brand new fresh through God’s grace immediately as the impulse to ask God for forgiveness wells up inside us. He does not need to see tears…just senses the returning heart impulse. This is not cheap grace. Cheap grace comes when one is hardened to habitual sin and no longer “even asks” for forgiveness.
St. John; 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
St. Augustine; Confessions 2.7.15: “What shall I render to the lord for the fact that while my memory recalls these things my soul no longer fears them? I will love you, lord, and thank you, and confess to your name, because you have put away from me such wicked and evil deeds. To your grace I attribute it and to your mercy, that you have melted away my sin as if it were ice.”
CS Lewis; On Forgiveness; The…remedy is really and truly to believe in the forgiveness of sins. A great deal of our anxiety to make excuses comes from not really believing in it, from thinking that God will not take us to Himself again unless H is satisfied that some sort of case can be made out in our favour. But that would not be forgiveness at all. Real forgiveness means looking steadily at the sin, the sin that is left over without any excuse, after all allowances have been made, and seeing it in all its horror, dirt, meanness, and malice, and nevertheless being wholly reconciled to the [person] who has done it. That, and only that, is forgiveness, and that we can always have from God if we ask for it.”