Why is it that forgiving ourselves is so difficult? It’s a fact. All of us have said or done bad, embarrassing or just plain, stupid things. Not only that, but we’ll all create a steady stream of shortcomings until the day we die. Thank God for the forgiveness we have in Christ Jesus. Sometimes our poor choices result in consequences that can follow us or others for years to come. Nevertheless, God’s forgiveness of our sins is never further than a sincere confession.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9 NASB).
Forgiving ourselves is like riding a bike. We can read about bicycles or see other people riding. Still, it’s never real to us until faith in God lifts our feet from the ground. Just like riding bikes, walking in self-forgiveness may start with a little understanding and observation; but the real action begins with believing that Jesus has indeed freed us of our sins. God’s mercy isn’t just for our pre-Christian past; forgiveness is ongoing as Jesus continually intercedes for us before the Father, (I John 2:1-2).
The Battle of Guilt
All this sets the stage for an epic spiritual battle that rages in our hearts. We often fall short and sometimes reap the results of our actions. Yet, if we are to believe Him, Jesus has made us acceptable to God in spite of anything we might have thought, said or done. We need no longer focus on our sins and shortcomings. In Christ, we are heirs to many things, but condemnation and guilt aren’t in the inventory.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1 NASB).
There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. None. Nada. Zilch. Zip. Goose Egg. Zero. There is NO condemnation. Satan, on the other hand, is left with only the power of accusation. Revelation 12:10 calls Satan the “accuser of the brethren.” Though we carry the Word of God as a sword, (Hebrews 4:12), the enemy’s weapon of choice is a mirror. If the Devil can make us see ourselves apart from Jesus, He can render us powerless to walk in the grace of God. Sincere believers fall victim by meditating on the accusations they hear as the Devil holds up the mirror of their shortcomings.
Forgiving the Guilt of Our Sin
Grace is like riding a bicycle. We may know about it, but it's only real when our feet come off the ground. Click To Tweet
For the Christian, feelings of guilt represent the space between conviction and repentance. When the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, God doesn’t intend that we stay in that miserable state. The moment we realize we’ve transgressed, we need to confess our sin and seek forgiveness.
If we let it, guilt will gnaw at the foundation God has laid in our lives until we collapse in rumination and regret. If we make a habit of living with guilt, it will harden our hearts to the point that there is no room left for repentance. In Psalm 32, David expresses that God forgives even the “guilt” of his sin.
“I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’; And You forgave the guilt of my sin.” (Psalm 32:5 NASB).
This psalm of God’s ability to forgive is coming from King David. After he had an affair with the wife of a friend, David had his friend killed to hide it, (II Samuel 11). We read of David’s confession in Psalm 51. Though there were repercussions of David’s sin, God’s forgiveness was complete. After marrying the woman with whom he had the affair, one of their children grew up to be king. His name was Solomon and he is listed in the genealogy of Jesus, (Matthew 1:6).
The Word of Reconciliation
In maintaining peace with God, I can think of two significant questions. Ask them honestly and make a list, if necessary.
1. Is the Holy Spirit convicting you of sin toward God? Confess it and repent. God’s word says you’re free.
“My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.” (I John 2:1-2 NLT).
2. Is there an offense that separates you from someone else? Regardless of where you think the fault lies, go and do your best to make it right. Without accusation, humbly confess your sin in the matter.
“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” (Matthew 5:23-24 NASB).
In my experience, some will forgive you and some won’t. Regardless, you’ve fulfilled God’s Word and you are free.
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” (Romans 12:18 NASB).
No matter how evil we may perceive our past sins, we can have faith that the blood of Christ is sufficient to cleanse us. We must not ruminate and regret; we need not tolerate the accusations of the devil. When Satan holds up the mirror, find Jesus in the reflection.
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” (II Corinthians 5:17-19 NASB).