Refreshment in Refuge
by Gina Burgess
Someone once pointed out to me that the notion of forgiving yourself was not a Biblical principle. I hunted and searched for hours trying to find something in the Bible about forgiving oneself. The closest I came was David’s Psalm 51 when he asked God to create in him a clean heart and to renew a right spirit within him. When you compare his Psalm 32 in verse 3 When I kept silence, then my bones became old, through my howling all day. We see the consequences of unconfessed sin. But that is different from forgiving one’s self for past transgressions which we have confessed and repented. Why do we groan in shame for them long after the deed?
Satan constantly bombards us with taunts of past wrongs hoping that our guilty feelings will draw us away from God, out from under His protective wings. That is something that Satan knows we as Christians are prone to do. We think our sin is too huge to be forgiven because we think from our own level of forgiveness. How could we forgive someone doing that to us? If we can’t forgive, then how can God forgive? That is another of Satan’s lies that we buy into.
That still didn’t quite fit the requirement for a Biblical basis of forgiving yourself. So I kept looking and found Isaiah 54:4
Do not fear, for you shall not be shamed, nor shall you be abashed, for you shall not be wounded, for you shall forget the shame of your youth, and you shall not remember the reproach of your widowhood any more.
Very interesting word, widowhood. The Hebrew word is the feminine form of H488 which is אלמן
'almân (al-mawn') in the sense of bereavement; discarded (as a divorced person): - forsaken.
Isaiah is prophesying a time when Israel will be gathered to the LORD’s breast as a much beloved wife. In verses four through five, he is talking about the shame and guilt we feel when we are confronted with our sin and are convicted of it within our heart. Here are most beautiful words to any Christian who has had those moments of knee-bending, face-in-the-carpet shame: You will no longer remember your disgrace.
Why did God say that? Because we have a conscience and we are prone to dwell on the negative. That saying one bad apple spoils the whole barrel is true. Negativism breeds and multiplies faster and further than anything imaginable. Just look at the murmuring and rumbling of the Israelites in the wilderness. When you get that old Dragon, the Accuser, firing guilt tipped darts at the chinks in our armor, you have a problem of unforgiveness of the self kind.
To forgive one's self, one must reverse that process and remember that God is greater than our sin. Christ’s sacrifice was once and for all… that means every possible, conceivable sin was accounted for and covered by Jesus’ blood. That, my beloved siblings, is the greatest story of grace man ever attempted to understand.
Since our Kinsman Redeemer has already bought the sin, why do we insist on hanging on to it?
It isn’t hard to do, either. Even Moses, who was the conveyor of such miracles of God as the parting of the Red Sea, the providing of water for more than two million thirsty people, plus all the livestock (which is an astronomical amount of water every day), and forty year old shoes and garments never wearing out plus many other things, had a moment of unbelief which cost him the promised land. Numbers 20:10-12. He struck the rock twice instead of speaking to it. God said it was his unbelief that caused his disobedience.
We Christians do not believe that God can, in fact already has forgiven that horrendous sin that we keep hidden in our hearts. Holding on to the sin is tantamount to making Jesus go to the cross all over again. That is what unbelief does. Since we know He only went once, and that was enough, then we should know that those guilty feelings which Satan aims at us as fiery darts, are literally harmless breaths of hot wind. They have no teeth so to speak, it is merely baying at the moon.
What happens to our past moral and spiritual failures when we repent of our sins and claim God’s forgiveness? Have you ever had an itch right in the middle of your back? Ever try to scratch it with your hand? That is where God casts our sins when we confess and repent, never to be reached, touched or thought of again. Glory!
The LORD forgives the past. His great compassion is far beyond understanding. If we were to be asked to give our first and only beloved son to pay for the lives of the most wicked of people who had nothing worthy to give back, our hearts would be granite and our faces be flint. Yet, God has mercy for us because while we were yet sinners, Christ willingly died for us.
Here’s the Biblical proof of it:
Hebrews 8:12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities I will remember no more."
Hebrews 10:17 also He adds, "their sins and their iniquities I will remember no more."
Jeremiah 31:34 And they shall no more teach each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah; for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says Jehovah. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sins no more.
Isaiah 38:17 Behold, for peace was bitter to me, most bitter; but You loved my soul from the pit of destruction; You have cast all my sins behind Your back.
For the mountains shall depart, and the hills tremble; My loving kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall the covenant of My peace be shaken, says Jehovah who loves you. Isaiah 54:10
(Reprinted from a 2009 column.)
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She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.
If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection
Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and eBookChristian.com
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