Why Can’t I Forgive Myself? – Reason #2

The 28 Day Forgiveness Challenge — Day 17

I’ve crossed the line.

Some people think they are beyond the forgiveness of God. A gentleman named John was listening to the Basic Gospel radio broadcast one day. Something he heard prompted him to call. The shame and guilt in his voice were palpable. I asked him: “John, do you believe you’ve crossed a line and that there is no hope for you?”

“Yes, that’s exactly how I feel.”

What a horrible place to be. If you believe your sins are so big that they have exhausted the supply of God’s grace, you are doomed to a life of self-condemnation and will miss the grace of God for you.

Paul could have easily lived under a blanket of self-condemnation. He blasphemed God’s good name and persecuted Christians. As he said to Timothy, he was the chief of sinners. But God exercised unlimited patience with Paul and poured out his grace on him abundantly.

The gospel tells us that God’s grace never runs out. It is a limitless supply, which means there is no line you can cross. There is no place you can be that God cannot reach you.

Grace takes you out of your sin and places you into Christ Jesus. Since God does not remember your sins, there is no need for you to keep dredging them up.

Forgiveness Challenge #17 – Look deep inside and find those things that are keeping you from fully embracing the grace of God. Then let the following verse melt those things away:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)

Why Can’t I Forgive Myself? – Reason #1

The 28 Day Forgiveness Challenge — Day 16

I’m a basically good person.

If you buy the premise that you are basically good, you will miss the grace of God. If you believe you are fundamentally good, you don’t need grace.

This mindset forces you to rationalize, defend and try to prove to others that indeed you are basically good. Some would call this perfectionism.

I believed I was basically good. Before fully embracing the grace of God, I tried to spin my past in such a way that would put me in the best light possible. Defending my fragile ego was hard work. It was an endless task.

I missed out on truly knowing and experiencing God’s forgiveness.

The truth is that in and of ourselves, we are not basically good. Jesus was very clear on this point: “No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18).

Our hearts, as Jeremiah wrote, are wicked and beyond cure. But not beyond the cure of God’s grace. God in His goodness reached you in Christ and forgave your sins. He changed your status from sinner to child of God.

This is truth that will set you free.

Forgiveness Challenge #16 – Do you spend time trying to convince yourself or others that you are “basically a good person”? Are you willing to accept the truth of Mark 10:18 and fully embrace Romans 4:5?

“And to the one who does not work but believes in[a] him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,” (Romans 4:5).

You Can Let Go of Your Past!

The 28 Day Forgiveness Challenge — Day 15

I meet people all the time who say, “I know God has forgiven me, but I am having a hard time forgiving myself.”

Have you heard people you know say this? Maybe it’s something you are struggling with right now. If so, you are not alone. Many people find it difficult to forgive themselves.

I wish I could point you to a verse in the Bible that teaches self-forgiveness. The Bible never addresses the issue. Jesus never said to anyone that they need to forgive themselves.

When people speak of forgiving themselves, they are actually saying they want to let go of their past and all the fear, guilt and shame associated with their past. The Stanford Forgiveness project conducted by Stanford University suggests that we use “forgiveness to make peace with the past.”

They go on to say that “forgiveness may be, as the religious traditions have been claiming all along, a rich path to greater peace and understanding that also has both psychosocial and physiological value.”

The worldly path to self-forgiveness is paved with self-love, self-acceptance and self-affirmation, which sounds good and healthy, but it misses the point.

Forgiveness means being released from punishment due to sin. It’s rooted in God’s grace and holiness. It is God’s act in Jesus to satisfy his justice. God did not let your sins go unpunished. It is crucial that you know and understand this.

Forgiveness became yours the day you confessed with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believed in your heart that God raised him from the dead. David painted the most vivid picture as to what this means: “…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).

Forgiveness Challenge #15 -Consider this verse: “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:15). What is the answer? That we not miss the grace of God. The result of missing God’s grace is bitterness that causes trouble. Someone struggling to forgive themselves is a troubled person. They are troubled because they carry with them the stains of their past. In light of Christ’s finished work on the cross, are you willing to let go of your past?

You Can Forgive Others

The 28 Day Forgiveness Challenge — Day 14

In forgiving our sins, God did much more than speak forgiveness into our lives. He sent Jesus to die in our place, to shed his blood for our sins. That was a must. Forgiveness is always contingent on the shedding of blood. “Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22).

In that sacrifice, he removed our sins, placed them on himself, suffered the punishment for them, sent them away, and then chose to remember them no more.

How can we do that for another person? Even if we did die for someone else, would our blood be sufficient to take that person’s sin away? The answer is a resounding “no”. We can’t do for another person what Jesus Christ did for us.

We can, however, extend grace to another person based on the shed blood of Jesus. To forgive others is to extend kindness and favor to another person and to do so willingly

Normally, we demand others to come back to us on their knees asking for mercy before we respond in kindness.

That’s not the way Christ forgave us. He took the initiative. God’s provision always precedes our need. His provision affects change in us.

In kindness, we reach out to those who have offended or wronged us, seventy times seven. We do so on the basis of Christ’s shed blood. The Holy Spirit works this measure of grace into our hearts and empowers us to choose not to count a person’s wrongs against them.

Your forgiveness of others merely reflects the forgiveness you already have in Christ

Forgiveness Challenge #14 – How are you to forgive others according to the two verses below? Think about how Christ forgave you.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13).

D-I-V-O-R-C-E

The 28 Day Forgiveness Challenge — Day 13

The Greek word for forgiveness is aphiemi. Would it surprise you to know that in 1 Corinthians 7:11-13, the word is translated “divorce”? In that context, Paul is telling husbands not to send or put (divorce) their wives away.

But that is exactly what God did with your sins. He sent them away.

That is the primary meaning of forgiveness. The Complete Word Study Dictionary defines forgiveness as, “to send forth or away, to let go from oneself.”

You were connected to our sins, married to them if you will. All that changed, however.

In one instant, Jesus “divorced” you from your sins and put them away. As a result, you are no longer tied to them, or are under sin’s control.

Jesus’ death freed you from sin once and for all.

God has sent your sins away. Where are they? According to the Word of God, “As far as the east is from the west.”

Forgiveness Challenge 13 – Make a decision to accept the truth – your sins have been divorced from you. This is what God has done with your sins. He removed them. He sent them away. He remembers them no more. This is forgiveness. This is grace.

“…Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more” (Hebrews 10:17).

Jesus Christ Paid Your Debt!

The 28 Day Forgiveness Challenge — Day 12

Debt is a big problem in America. I know. It has plagued me most of my adult life.

For many, the struggle gets overwhelming. No matter what they do, the debt never goes away. Every month, the mountain of bills reminds them of the financial mess they are in.

As to financial debt, there is a way out. There is something you can and should do. Cut up your credit cards. Develop a budget. Slash your lifestyle. Use every dime you can squeeze out of your budget to pay off what you owe. Commit to the plan, and in time the debt is gone. Financial freedom is yours.

It’s a totally different story when it comes to sin. There is nothing you can do to get out from under this heavy burden. Hard work, discipline and tough decisions will not remove this debt. There is not enough money in the world or enough good deeds to pay it off. Our efforts don’t even put a dent in what we owe. The sins and the guilt and the shame keep piling up.

Our only hope of release is the mercy of God. That mercy is delivered to us through forgiveness.

Forgiveness Challenge #12 – Truthfully, answer this question. When you say that your sins have been forgiven, what does that mean to you? Begin this challenge by looking at this beautiful picture of the transfer of our sins to Jesus Christ.

“God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5;21).

You Are Always in God’s Favor

The 28 Day Forgiveness Challenge — Day 11

God always shows us favor, even when we sin. He never withdraws that favor or grace. Christians live in His favor twenty-four/seven.  His grace produces in us God’s desired effect.

One thing we naturally do in response to God’s grace is confess the sin. But what God really desires for us is that we trust and rest in the shed blood of Jesus. Just as salvation is by grace through faith, experiencing the forgiveness of God is by grace, through faith, as well.

By grace, Jesus took your sins upon himself. By grace, he suffered the punishment you justly deserved. By grace, he offered his blood to the Father on your behalf. By grace, he forgave your sins. Now, through faith, thank Jesus for what he has done and rest confidently in the forgiveness that is yours in him.

If you are still wrestling with what to do when you sin, let faith in the finished work of Christ settle the issue. He has taken away your sins once and for all.

Forgiveness Challenge #11 – Begin to deal with sins by trusting in the completed work of Christ at the cross, resting in the fact that you are forgiven, and then ask the Lord to begin to work in you to be able to say “no” to sin.

“God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance” (Romans 2:4 ESV).

I Want This For You!

The 28 Day Forgiveness Challenge — Day 10

The day I fully believed that all my sins were forgiven was the day the love of God broke through to my heart. On that day I knew that I knew that I knew God truly and genuinely loved me. His love started driving out the fear in my heart just as he promised.

I want this for you.

Fear makes us ask “Is there something we need to do when we sin?” Love has a better question. “What does God do when we sin?”

Understanding these actions will radically change how you see sin.

  • He reminds you of Christ’s death on the cross and the forgiveness you have in Him. (1 John 2:12)
  • He assures you that you are a child of God. (Romans 8:15-16)
  • He shows you the consequences of our sin and then works in you the desire to be reconciled to those you’ve hurt. (Romans 13:10)
  • He teaches you to say “no” to sin. (Titus 2:11)
  • He encourages you to put off the old, and put on the new. (Ephesians 4:22-24 & Colossians 3:5-14).
  • He works all things together for your good. (Romans 8:28)
  • He continues to complete the work he began in us. (Philippians 1:6)

Forgiveness Challenge #10 – Study these seven actions God takes on your behalf. Let the truth of these verses cement the actions God continually takes on your behalf. Then let this verse put it all together:

“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

The Fear Factor

The 28 Day Forgiveness Challenge — Day 9

Being controlled by fear is devastating. It is the natural consequence of sin. We first see this in the Garden. After Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they hid from God. When God called out to Adam, Adam responded, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid” (Genesis 3:10). When sin entered Adam and Eve, fear took control of their lives. As a result, it became a part of our spiritual DNA.

Paul analyzes the problem this way: “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior” (Colossians 1:21). This is a vivid description of the lost condition. Evil behavior, what the Bible calls sin, alienates us from God and causes us to think of him as our enemy.  Sin is unbelief. Sins originate with unbelief and are defined as evil behavior.

Thing started making sense to me when I realized I was letting sin and fear and wrong thinking dictate how I approached God. When you think he is your enemy, you tread lightly.

Here is the good news. God is not, nor was he ever, your enemy. If you need to be convinced, consider what John wrote: “In this is love, not that we have loved God but he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10 ESV).

God loves you, and the grace he lavished on you to provide redemption, the forgiveness of sins is the proof.

Forgiveness challenge #9 – Instead of approaching God out of fear, doing everything you can to avoid punishment, approach God with an attitude of thankfulness. Jesus gladly paid the penalty for your sins.

Walk in the truth of this verse: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18).

What am I Supposed to do when I Sin?

The 28 Day Forgiveness Challenge — Day 8

I received Christ when I was twelve. For the next eight years, my thoughts about God and Christianity and faith in Jesus were all directed toward finding answers to two questions:

  1. How do I stop sinning?
  2. What am I supposed to do when I sin?

Since I couldn’t stop sinning, the second question concerned me the most. I believed I was supposed to confess, repent, and then ask God to forgive me. And, IF I really meant it, God would forgive my sin. But I was never sure that He had. My formula for forgiveness didn’t work.

A pattern developed in my life. The patterns always started with a sin. The sin caused guilt and an intense fear of punishment. Out of this fear of punishment, I pleaded with God for forgiveness and promised him I would do better. And then the next sin came. I would go through the same process all over again, but I never felt forgiven. My formula for forgiveness didn’t ease the guilt or cast away the fear.

Soon I wondered if I was even saved. So I added to the formula. Confess, repent, ask God for forgiveness, and ask him to come back into my life. It was like my heart was a revolving door.

I was desperate to know God’s forgiveness. But with all my begging, pleading and promising, I never felt forgiven. Back in those days, I was desperately trying to earn something that had already been given to me by grace. I had already received the gift of forgiveness the day I believed on Jesus’ name.

The same is true of you.

Forgiveness Challenge #8 – Have you ever thought that God would one day unleash all his anger on you? Have you ever looked deep inside and recognized fear as the driving force in your life? Consider this: fear turns grace into a reward. Ask God to reveal the truth of Hebrews 10: 17, 18 into your heart.

“Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more. And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.”