It is difficult for me to forgive myself and others. I have regrets this year, some I can correct, others I can’t. The damage has been done. Memories and accusations flood my mind and I go through mental gymnastics with “if onlys.” I have plunged into a pit of despair with the weight of my sin literally crushing the breath out of me. Christians know the forgiveness of Jesus, but have I only accepted that truth in my mind and deep inside there’s a nagging doubt that it really applies to my situation?
What can I do with those feelings of guilt? Are they from God or the devil? Am I forgiven or just fooling myself? Am I struggling with ongoing failures in my attitudes or action?
My situation is so terribly painful I’ve thought, “Even if God has forgiven me – I’ll never forgive myself!”
Are you haunted by things in your past like fornication, adultery, homosexuality, pimping, prostitution, or perversion? Maybe you’ve committed crimes like rape, molestation, or incest. Some of you have been thieves, gang members, drug addicts, or even murderers. Perhaps you have caused, or been the victim of painful divorces. Or you have emotionally tormented others through verbal abuse, or injured them through physical abuse – maybe your marriage partner or your children or you have collaborated on an abortion and killed an unborn child. Perhaps you carry false feelings of guilt and condemnation because you were on the receiving end of the wrong choices of others.
Have you been careless, selfish, disobedient, or missed God altogether, and now irreparable damage has been done? A tragedy might have been averted had you acted differently. But now you or someone else has been hurt or left handicapped… maybe a life was lost.
Perhaps your problems aren’t as devastating as those mentioned, but all the same you live with continual feelings of discouragement and failure. Whatever your situation may be, if you are feeling the weight of guilt, the forgiveness of Jesus can be known.
The act of “forgiving ourselves” has value only after we have obtained God’s forgiveness. One reason some can’t forgive themselves is because God hasn’t forgiven them. And if God hasn’t forgiven them, it’s because they haven’t ever taken their guilt and shame to Him. Jesus Christ is the only One who can truly cleanse your heart from guilt. “For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:13,14
1. Approach God’s throne of grace in sincere humility to receive forgiveness.
2. Admit your own guilt, making no excuses, and wholeheartedly turning away from the things that have broken God’s heart.
3. It’s giving Him full control of your life. You can no longer be your own boss – your own god.
Jesus longs for an intimate relationship with you. He is waiting for you to come. You may find a temporary “cure” for your guilt, but there will be no lasting inner peace or healing apart from Jesus Christ.
When we see our sins through the eyes of God, we don’t see how we could ever be forgiven. But that’s the wonder and the miracle of His grace. We receive what we don’t deserve – forgiveness. We owe Him everything. He owes us nothing – yet gives us all. That’s what makes His grace truly amazing.
Many of you may already have a fairly good knowledge of the Lord, even going to church regularly – but for you it’s “religion” not relationship. Jesus doesn’t honor outward forms of godliness. He sees our hearts and we cannot seek forgiveness for specific areas of your life without yielding your whole life to Him. We can’t send just our sin to the foot of the cross – we need to take ourselves there as well. God’s grace is not a bandage to slap over an unclean life. A complete cleansing is needed first, and it can only come through totally giving your life to Jesus.
Is there any sin too terrible for God to forgive? Only one – the ultimate rejection of God’s Son, Jesus. Our refusal to live in loving relationship with Him blocks us not only from entering into God’s forgiveness, but from entering into eternity with Him as well.
If you have gone to the cross, but still feel guilty, it’s probably Satan who is accusing you. One of his favorite tactics is to bring up your past sins and failures. Things he knows you feel bad about. Actually, he talks to you in a religious tone of voice making you wonder if it could be God. He brings up your past as “evidence” that you are not totally forgiven. He tells you you’re a second-class Christian – that you should be content with just being saved because you’re unworthy of being used by God in any significant way. I am talking about an attack of the enemy that keeps us looking inward instead of upward, full of guilt instead of full of peace, bound instead of free.
Sometimes we aren’t sure just who is talking to us. We need to be careful not to confuse the attack of the enemy with the voice of God. Who is speaking? What is being said? What is the motive behind it?
WHO: Does it sound like God? Does it fit His character? Is it an area of sin? Does it line up with the Bible?
WHAT: God’s conviction is usually specific. He will let you know, “You just told a lie,” or “ I want you to take more responsibility at home.” On the other hand, condemnation is usually more general in nature. The enemy says things like, “You’re a lousy Christian,” “Why don’t you just give up?” or “God could never forgive you for that.”
“you’re a hypocrite.” Learn to say “Lord, if that’s You, please show me exactly what I’ve said or done so I can get it right.” If it’s the Lord, and if you are open to being corrected, guaranteed He will tell you.
WHY: Many times God speaks a hard word to us. His discipline may hurt for a time, but His motive is always love. Look at the desired outcome. The goal of God’s conviction is to draw us closer to Him – our lives bearing good fruit. The devil’s condemnation is designed to drive us away from God into a fruitless, hopeless existence.
Satan wants us to give up – God just wants us to shape-up!
This is a test: If someone else with a situation just like yours came to you for counsel, what advice would you give them? Is it easier for you to grab onto God’s forgiveness for someone else than it is to believe it for yourself? Perhaps you are harder on yourself than you are on others.
Remember that God is no respecter of persons. To believe one thing for someone else, and another thing for yourself is inconsistent. Beliefs like that are based on feelings not on truth. Sometimes when I “blow it” I feel so hurt and disappointed in myself that it’s hard to receive forgiveness, yet I would firmly tell someone else in my position to stand on the truth of the Bible. It’s humbling to receive God’s forgiveness, but James reminds us that,“God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”James 4:6. Pride must take a back seat when it comes to receiving something we know we don’t deserve. If God has forgiven us, we set ourselves above Him when we reject His gift. I must learn to minister the same truth and compassion to myself that I so freely give to others.
If you don’t receive God’s forgiveness, you will get sick spiritually. Your whole Christian life will suffer. Your lack of confidence before the Lord does not change the fact that you are forgiven, but it hinders you from achieving the freedom and victory that is yours in Jesus.
You’ve repented time and time again for your temper, selfishness, pride, irresponsibility, impatience, immaturity, insecurities, and fears, etc. Once again you slink into God’s presence expecting to hear Him say, “You again? Another bad attitude? You said you’d change but you haven’t. That’s it – no more forgiveness for you!” Perhaps you’ve had other people treat you that way when you’ve humbled yourself – but God won’t.
God is fine-tuning us. He’s sanding and shaping our characters into better images of Himself. Stop thinking there’s an easier way and realize that life is often very difficult – even when we are walking with Jesus.
If you see your failures as opportunities to grow… you will! If you fall, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back on the horse. “A righteous man falls seven times, and rises again.”Proverbs 24:16. You’re afraid you’ll fall again? Keep your eyes on Jesus, “who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you, stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy.” Jude 24. You’re in training, remember? If you fall, throw yourself on the mercy of God and try again with the strength He provides. That’s what God’s mercy is for.
Repentance is a change of heart. A change of mind concerning sin. It’s more than just “being sorry.” It’s honestly saying, “If I could do it over, I’d do it differently. I would honor God.” That’s what repentance is all about. “If MY PEOPLE, which are called by my name, shall HUMBLE THEMSELVES, and PRAY, AND SEEK MY FACE, and TURN from their wicked ways; THEN will I hear from heaven, and WILL FORGIVE THEIR SIN…”II Chron. 7:14. Whether you’re a mass-murderer or the “nice guy down the street,” you need to come to God in the same way. But once you have given your life to God, and turned away from all ungodliness, you can be sure of His forgiveness whether you feel forgiven or not!7
If you’re still having trouble feeling forgiven, ask God if there’s something He wants you to do. Many times there’s someone you need to forgive or ask forgiveness of. Do you need to repay someone? Ask Him to show you anything you’ve left undone.
Although many of our wrong choices leave us with unpleasant consequences, these things have nothing to do with the fact that we are forgiven. You could be in jail. If you’ve had an abortion you must deal with the death of your baby and sometimes sterility as well . The key is walking in gratitude. Be thankful for your salvation and for all the good things God has done for you. Jesus points to a former prostitute and tells us that those forgiven of the greatest debts will also have the greatest love for Him. A wonderful promise of hope!Luke 7:42-48.
God is just. If you must live with difficult circumstances, He will compensate you in ways that the average person may never know. Our deepest times with God usually come while passing through the fire. We can get hard and bitter from our hurts, or we can draw closer to God and allow Him to break open a vial of compassion in our hearts . In our brokenness we can comfort others, maybe in similar situations, with the same comfort God has given to us. II Cor. 1:4. We have a new understanding of God’s grace – a soothing ointment to apply to the wounds of others. God wants us to use it.
You need to have your mind renewed. Paul says, “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”II Cor. 5:17. When you come to Jesus something supernatural happens. You become a new person. You have the same body, the same hands, and even some of the same clothes you had when you were sinning. But you are different. You are a NEW CREATION.
In Ezekiel, the Lord says, “I will sprinkle clean water on you and YOU WILL BE CLEAN.” He doesn’t say you might be clean or I hope you’ll be clean, but you will be clean. “I will cleanse you from ALL your filthiness and from ALL your idols. Moreover, I WILL give you a NEW HEART and put a NEW SPIRIT within you; and I WILL REMOVE the heart of stone from your flesh and GIVE YOU a heart of flesh. And I WILL PUT MY SPIRIT WITHIN YOU and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe my ordinances.”Ezek. 36:25-27
God has given us a new heart and a new spirit. We need to walk in the newness of that life. “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might WALK IN NEWNESS OF LIFE. Knowing this, that our OLD SELF WAS CRUCIFIED with Him, that our body of sin might be DONE AWAY WITH, that we should NO LONGER be slaves to sin; for He who has died is FREED FROM SIN.”Rom. 6:4,6-7
Walking in the newness of life involves training our thinking to accept – not reject – that newness. I recently heard someone say, “I’m new in Christ. I’ve got a new heart and I’ve got a new spirit. My only problem is that I’ve got an old brain.” There is a battle on for our mind and we need to continually feed it on the Truth of God – flushing out the junk. It’s a process and you need to diligently apply yourself to it… lay aside the OLD SELF . . . BE RENEWED IN THE SPIRIT OF YOUR MIND.”Eph. 4:22-23
Now, gird your mind for action and discipline your thinking. “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.”Rom 8:6 The following are a few practical steps towards renewing your mind.
SPEAKING THE TRUTH: Self-esteem is a popular topic right now. The world says “take pride in yourself,” a thought contrary to the Bible – and yet the Christlike response is not “belittle yourself.” Many people continually downgrade themselves with their words and their thoughts believing it’s biblical humility. It’s not. We need to see ourselves through God’s eyes and speak honestly about ourselves – acknowledging the good and the bad. When we are really honest, we can’t help but be humble before God.
THINKING THE TRUTH: “… whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.”Phil. 4:8 Meditate on the special Scriptures the Lord gives you regarding your forgiveness, your strength in Jesus, your new heart, and all the riches of Christ. Tape them on your bathroom mirror, underline them in your Bible, memorize them. This is the truth, and “the truth will make you free.”John 8:32
LIVING THE TRUTH: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”James 1:22 Don’t fan the flames of old feelings and desires. If you don’t want to struggle with lust, don’t go to enticing movies. Be careful about the influence you receive from television and books. Practice the simple things the Lord shows you in rebuilding your life and you won’t hurt the Lord and come under the same guilt again. “Put on the NEW SELF, which in the likeness of God has been created in RIGHTEOUSNESS and HOLINESS OF THE TRUTH.”Eph. 4:24
Now forgive yourself ……………
After God has forgiven you, you have to forgive yourself. This will release you to walk in the fullness of Christ. Satan loves to tell you that you haven’t changed. That the blood of Jesus is useless in the cleansing of sin. These are lies. Once you have given your life to God and placed your sins under His blood you are forgiven. Period! You must believe this truth if you’re going to have any joy in your Christian life. You’ve been bound by the enemy’s chains and Jesus wants to set you free right now. Cry out like David saying, “bring my soul out of prison, so that I may give thanks to Thy Name.”Psalm 142:7. The door is wide open. Walk through it in confidence! Get off alone somewhere and say this out loud. You are speaking to yourself, to God, and to the devil.
l AM NOT THE SAME as I used to be. I WOULD NOT DO the same things if I could do them over. I am more than sorry. I believe GOD HAS FORGIVEN ME and I’m going to live like it. I will SPEAK and THINK the truth about myself and God. I REJECT THE LIES of the enemy. And, I FORGIVE MYSELF. Say it louder, I FORGIVE MYSELF! Insert your name in here and say, “ _____________ I FORGIVE YOU!!” Now spend some time thanking Jesus for the new start He’s giving you.
There are some things that just have to be nailed to the cross once and for all. Don’t take the list down and examine it anymore. Jesus wants to do a new thing in your life. You need to let Him. It’s time to get on with your life and tackle the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. You’ll miss them if you keep looking back over your shoulder. Jesus wants to use you. He loves you and He wants to see you released to be all He’s made you to be. Forget what lies behind and look ahead, walking forward in the wisdom and power of God. Jesus has not only given you a future, He’s given you a hope as well! “`For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, `plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’” (Jeremiah 29:11)
forgive yourself and others,
stand tall on the promises of God and in Christ,
walk on to new spiritual heights in Christ in 2013!
and glorify the Lord.
Credits to Melody Green