Have you ever been in a relationship and something happened that resulted in you causing the other person hurt and pain? You apologize, and though they are hurting, they say that they accept your apology. You all try to move on from that place of pain, but then every time you turn around they are reminding you about “the time you hurt them.”
Or perhaps they just act differently towards you because their mouth said they forgave you, but their heart just has not grabbed hold of the forgiveness yet. So you find yourself in this constant battle to prove that you are really sorry.
Fortunately for us, we serve a forgiving and gracious God who really means it when He forgives us. He isn’t keeping score, and He won’t keep throwing your past sin back in your face. Even when we don’t deserve His forgiveness, He forgives us. So you can rest assured that when you finally come to the place of true repentance and tell God that you are sorry about every sin you find yourself constantly repeating, He will really forgive you. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
The problem typically arises in that we don’t take the time to forgive ourselves, part of which comes from not believing that we are really forgiven. God isn’t condemning us, but we continue to put ourselves in a state of condemnation which gives the enemy leverage in our lives. I know; I have been there. Shortly after being fired from my employer for theft, I found myself in a place where I constantly beat myself up for what I had done, for the huge mess I had made, for the people I hurt, and ultimately for failing God. However, as I began to recommit my life to Christ, and get immersed in His word, my mind began to change, which led to a change of heart. I remember a few months into my investigation the Lord asking me; “When are you going to receive my forgiveness?” I heard Him say in my spirit that what I had done was not a surprise to Him, and that He had already made the way out of my mess for me. I just needed to believe and receive, which I eventually did. How freeing that was to me. He had already given me the keys to my prison doors. My job was to take those keys and unlock my cell door and walk out of the prison of self-condemnation, shame, fear, and regret. Sure, there are those that keep me in prison in their own minds and hearts, but that is their issue. I once heard that unforgiveness is the poison one drinks hoping that the other person gets sick. However, it is the unforgiving person who winds up sick; spiritually, emotionally and sometimes physically. How sad and unnecessary. Don’t get me wrong, I have sought forgiveness from those I have hurt and have made amends with others as God opens those doors. However, I no longer define myself as to whether or not someone forgives me or approves of me, because I know God has forgiven me and I have His approval. What a relief! Therefore, I choose to walk in the victory and freedom which Christ died for me to have; “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” (Galatians 5:1)
Although God doesn’t throw our past up in our face, the devil will, and he will typically use those closes to us to do that. Every chance he gets, he will remind us of our past sins and try to convince us that we are worthless, dirty, and full of sin. We have to remember that his assignment is to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). He wants to steal your joy, kill your spirit, and destroy your self-worth. The longer you walk around tripping on yourself because of your past sins and not accepting the redemption that you have in God, the longer you expose yourself to his attacks.
So ask yourself, what are some of the things that the devil keeps bringing to the forefront of your mind, which keeps you in bondage, even though God has already forgiven you? What names do you continue to incorrectly answer to? Liar? Fraud? Cheater? Drug addict? Overeater?
However, it’s important to note that many times, it’s not even the devil throwing things in our face – it’s us. We beat ourselves up by dwelling on the past. We become our own worst enemy, constantly reminding ourselves of who we once were. We remain in bondage to our sins simply because we can’t forgive ourselves. By not forgiving ourselves, we become like a prisoner being released from jail, who doesn’t move from our jail cell because we keep rehearsing our crime in our head. The jail cell door is wide open, and you have been issued your release papers, but you just stay there stuck because you can’t forgive yourself. Sounds silly, right? But we do it to ourselves all the time. Forgiveness means to pardon, to spare someone of the burden of their offense. So when God has forgiven you, you no longer have to walk around carrying the burden or weight of your sin, even when others try to throw it back in your face. Jesus took our sins upon Himself when he died on the cross, which made it possible for God to forgive us. We try to look at God’s forgiveness the way humans forgive, but God’s ability to forgive is much greater than ours. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He (God) removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12)
Hello my friend – that means infinite forgiveness. When God says, “Son or daughter, I forgive you,” it’s a done deal. No one can take that forgiveness away from you, so accept God’s forgiveness and then forgive yourself and forgive others. “Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8). In other words, let it go! You can’t change the past, but you can keep the past from dictating your future. Until you are able to fully embrace God’s forgiveness, forgive yourself, and forgive others you won’t be able to walk in victory.
Gerry and I encourage you to receive the gift that keeps on giving-God’s free gift of forgiveness! Merry Christmas and have a victorious New Year!