Everyone has sinned and will continue to sin against God. It is part of being human. God, because of His unchanging love for us, does not abandon us when we sin. He extends to all the invitation to believe that He is the Savior of all humanity. Jesus died and rose again to pay the penalty for even the most terrible sins. Grace forgives.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:9,10).
“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,” (Acts 3:19)
“But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense- Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1 John 2:1).
Being forgiven does not mean that we automatically have freedom from feeling guilty for what we have done. Satan does some of his finest work by reminding those who have repented from their sin that they are still guilty. Over and over again, he continually reminds us of our failures, faults, and sins.
“And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God” (Revelation 12:10).
Here are some suggestions to help us leave our guilt at the cross.
- Ask God if there is any unconfessed sin in your life. If something comes to mind, confess it, and then by choice, not by feeling, know you are forgiven. By allowing feelings into your mind that continue to cause you guilty feelings, confess to God your unbelief that He died for your sins.
“For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah” (Psalm 32:3-5).
- If the sin committed was against others, you need to repent. Go to the person or persons involved and seek to make restitution. Asking forgiveness from them is critical in the healing of all parties. Most importantly, learn from your mistakes.
In repenting of his sin, Zacchaeus promised the Lord, “If I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount” (Luke 19:8).
3. When guilty feelings arise over sins already confessed and forsaken, reject such feelings as false guilt. Feelings are notoriously poor indicators of what is true and what is a lie. If the Bible says you are forgiven, then you are forgiven. Thank God that those sins that Satan brings to your memory are forgiven.
“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:8-12).
There comes a time, after we confess, repent, and are forgiven, when we need to move on and stop looking back.
2 Corinthians 5:7, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
God chooses to forget, and we need to follow His example. Pity parties of past mistakes run against the life that Jesus wants us to live. He wants us to focus on living out the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no room for self-condemnation over past mistakes.
God died to give us forgiveness. One way to solidify our understanding of accepting God’s forgiveness is to extend that forgiveness to others. As difficult as it can be, we are showing obedience and honor to God by doing this.
“But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (Matthew 6:15).
“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).