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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Forgiving Yourself

I told someone recently, "I live my life either living up to or living down to what other people think of me." I did not realize that it is not other people with which I struggle. My greatest critic is myself.

I have done a lot of really stupid things in my life. Many of these were hateful, sinful and embarrass me even today. Some times I remember them and feel guilty all over again. My first response is to ask God for forgiveness. The problem is: If I have already asked God to forgive me and He has, why do I need to ask Him again? Of course, I don't.

The Bible says, "Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." I believe he stands before us to accuse us of sins for which we have already been forgiven. He reminds us of our sinfulness only to the extent of the things we have already confessed. He doesn't want us to feel guilty about the things we haven't confessed. That might lead to repentance. Feeling guilty for already confessed sins devours us.

The spilled blood of Jesus Christ is the basis for forgiveness. God accepts this as the wages that sin demands. It is the basis by which we forgive. If we truly know that Jesus has died for our sins so that we are forgiven, we can give forgiveness to everyone because we have no right to hold on to the unforgiveness. We seem to accept that for everyone else but when it comes to us we want more than the blood of Jesus.

If I know that God has forgiven me on the basis of Jesus crucifixion and I don't forgive myself, I have a higher standard than God has. I will always feel guilty if the highest standard of Jesus' death on a cross won't satisfy atonement with myself. There is no higher price to be paid, there is no penance great enough and there is no self inflicted punishment which will satisfy. It will devour you.

So, I tell the devil he is a liar when I start feeling guilty for sins I have already confessed. God has forgiven me. Jesus paid for all of this sin and all the others I have committed. It is paid for no matter how egregious my sin appears to me. I thank God for His forgiveness. I thank Jesus for paying this high price. I tell myself the truth. I am forgiven no matter how I feel. I keep saying this to my Lord and, thus, I am saying it to myself.

The next time you feel guilty for something you have already confessed, repented of and received restoration with the Lord, tell the devil he is a liar. You are forgiven. He didn't set the standard in the first place and he certainly can't set it now.

God bless you. Yes, He has.

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

What a timely post and encouraging word. Leaving guilt and false accusations in the past is the perfect way to start a new year, walking in the fullness of God's grace!

Well said!