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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Forgiven: Knowing it, believing it, living it.

I'd like to do a little soul-baring with you, my dear readers.  Perhaps one of you has had an experience like mine, so I hope that sharing my own story will bless you, as well.

Image courtesy of David Castillo, www.freedigitalphotos.net

For much of my life I've had what you might call a legalistic mindset.  I've always understood about grace, don't get me wrong.  I know Jesus died for my sins, I know that because of him I'll have eternal life, I know that God has forgiven every sin I've ever committed or will ever commit.  I know I don't have to DO anything at all for my salvation--Jesus has done it all.

But I struggle with applying what I know in my head, to what I truly believe in my heart.  I've never struggled with faith in Christ, but I've struggled with letting go of my sin.  With accepting the fact that God's forgiveness erases that sin from my life.

It's not like I've done anything "majorly wrong."  I've never done drugs, smoked or gotten drunk.  I was a virgin when I got married.  I've avoided swearing and bad language.  I've never broken a federal law.  My parents raised me to be a good, honest, obedient and law-abiding person.

But I'm just as sinful as anyone else, and I also happen to have a bit of a "guilt complex."  Or, as my husband says, an overly active conscience.  I struggle with letting go of my own sins.

I struggle with forgiving myself, and accepting that through Christ, God has forgiven me.

Does this sound like you?  Have you ever had a struggle like this?

Whether you have or not, perhaps what I've learned will be helpful for you.

Since I started dating Joshua, he has been a powerful voice of forgiveness in my life.  He easily and quickly forgives me when I sin against him and ask his forgiveness.  He's reminded me time and again of God's forgiveness.  And I'll remember that, and know it, for a while.  But then that little voice inside me pulls up a wordless doubt, one that darkens the cheerfulness I usually feel, and makes me feel sorry for myself.  "I'm just not good enough.  I'll always have to struggle with this.  The consequences will always be part of my life.  I don't deserve forgiveness."

I read a blog post today where the author talked about forgetting.  She asked God to remove memories of past sins, so that she wouldn't dwell on them anymore.  This, I realized, is what I needed to do-forget about those sins.  Dwelling on my sins, hanging on to that guilt, and refusing to forgive myself, is actually sin in itself.  It's letting the law take over my life, instead of filling my life with the Gospel.  Then I read another blog post with a similar message, and tonight Joshua and I watched the movie October Baby.  It's about a teenage girl who discovers that she's adopted...and that her birth mother had attempted to have her aborted, but the abortion failed.  The girl also had a twin brother, and although they were both born alive, her brother died.  She struggled to forgive herself for living when her brother died, to forgive her birth mother for trying to kill her, and to forgive her adoptive parents because they had kept the truth from her for a long time.
In the movie there is a powerful message of forgiveness--that because God has forgiven us, we have the ability and the power to choose to forgive others.  Including ourselves.

As the movie was ending I dissolved in tears...because for the first time in a long time, I felt truly at peace with myself.  I realized that I was damaging myself by refusing forgiveness.  And so I let go.  I let go of the guilt I've been clinging to.  What a self-centered thing I had been doing.  It's not like it consumed my life...but it would come up at times, and I wouldn't just let it go.  But I believe God spoke to my heart today.  And so I've let go of the past, those sins that no one else would blame me for but for which I've been blaming myself.  The sins that Satan's been using to hurt my heart.

I read a Scripture verse on a blog today, and it applied so well to my blog, but also to God's gentle message to me today.  It's at the top of this page.  Scroll up and read it.

It's especially the last sentence of that verse that really means a lot to me right now.

I also love these other words of God about forgiveness:
"I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.  I will be their God, and they will be my people.  No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of the greatest," declares the Lord.  "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." Jeremiah 31:33b-34
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.  As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust."  Psalm 103:8-14
God doesn't remember my sins.  Jesus' sacrifice on the cross took care of that.  God has removed my sins from me; they are no longer part of my life.  He is gracious, not "fair"--I don't get what I deserve.  I deserve eternal punishment.

What God's given me is eternal life.  And grace, forgiveness, and everlasting love.

There is no reason for me to hang onto my guilt.  There is no reason to deny myself forgiveness, not when God has forgiven me long ago.  I am a saved, baptized, forgiven child of God.

And just as Jesus died to save me from MY sins, so he died to save you from yours.  Remember that verse at the top of the page?  That's for you, too.  When we repent of our sins--turn away from them--God is quick to forgive, and remind us of how much he loves us.

And he loves us so very much.

I hope you know that.  If you don't, please talk to me, or talk to a pastor or another Christian you know, who is walking with Jesus.  If you don't believe in Jesus in your personal Lord and Savior, he wants you to, so much!  He wants you to know that you are his child.

It's amazing how much Jesus loves us.  I've been reminded of that today, yet again, and I hope you know that in your heart, too.

Linking with: Growing Home, Heavenly Homemakers, Time-Warp Wife, Exceptionalistic 

1 comment:

  1. What a great post. I have indeed encountered a lot of problems with forgiving myself. I went through a period not too long ago where I couldn't forgive myself for getting angry with God.
    I am glad that you have found freedom.

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