Why is it that most of us find it almost impossible to forgive ourselves and to forget the shame of our pasts and yet, with the same breath, we acknowledge that we believe that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”?1
Isn’t that incredibly hypocritical of us? Doesn’t that show a major lack of faith on our behalf? God says He forgives our sins and “will remember our sins no more”2 and yet we say we cannot forgive ourselves. How insincere is it of us then to tell other people about this amazing God when we don’t believe a word of what He says ourselves. What right do we have to call ourselves believers in Christ when we are invalidating the very essence of the Christian gospel message by refusing to forgive ourselves?
God “gave you a share in the very life of Christ, for He forgave all your sins, and blotted out the charges proved against you, the list of His commandments which you had not obeyed. He took this list of sins and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross. In this way God took away Satan’s power to accuse you of sin, and God openly displayed to the whole world Christ’s triumph at the cross where your sins were all taken away”.3
Do I have faith in what Jesus Christ has done? “When I turn to God and by belief accept what God has done, the miraculous atonement by the Cross of Christ instantly places me into a right relationship with God. And as a result of the supernatural miracle of God’s grace I stand justified, not because I am sorry for my sin, or because I have repented, but because of what Jesus has done”4
If I continually feel guilty about the sins I have committed, ashamed about the things I have done, upset about the hurt I may have caused others even after I have asked God to forgive me and made restitution where possible, what kind of witness am I for God? If I am trapped in the sins of the past how do I explain to someone that once they accept Christ as their Saviour they will be set free from sin, the benefits they will reap leads to holiness and the end result is eternal life.5
We need to ask, as the apostles did, Lord “increase our faith”,6 and then start living in God’s grace. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”7
Once a woman who thought she was having visions from God went to the bishop for advice. He told her that the next time God appeared to her she was to perform a test by which to know that it really was God. She was to ask God what the personal and private sins of the bishop were. A month later she was back and she told the bishop she had done what he had asked.
God had replied “Go tell the bishop that I’ve forgotten all his sins”.8
1 1 John 1:9, The Holy Bible, NIV
2 Hebrews 8:12, The Holy Bible, NIV
3 Colossians 2:13 – 15, Life Application Bible
4 Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, October 28th
5 Romans 6 (paraphrased), The Holy Bible, NIV
6 Luke 17:5, The Holy Bible, NIV
7 Ephesians 2:8 – 9
8 Methods and Practices of Anthony de Mello, Praying Body and Soul