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The issue of forgiveness begins with God. You see, he defined what sin was when he gave us the Ten Commandments. Then he told the Israelites how they could receive forgiveness for their sins by offering the sacrifices prescribed by the Law. But this process was only temporary until Jesus Christ the Messiah came. Then he fulfilled the requirements of the Law for the forgiveness of sins by bearing our sins in his body on the cross. The book of Hebrews beautifully describes what Jesus did for us. His shed blood and death on the cross provided the forgiveness of all the sins of the world - past, present and future for all time. The Bible clearly declares that everyone who believes that Jesus is the saviour of the world and accepts what Jesus has done to take away their own sins, will indeed have all their sins forgiven and washed away. Every sin, past, present and future, for an entire lifetime is forgiven because Jesus paid the penalty that we should have paid. He died so we could be set free from the power of sin, death and evil. He rose again to restore to believers the gift of eternal life through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in us. So why is it so hard to forgive ourselves? I believe it starts with our focus. When our life is focused on our performance, we find it very difficult to admit our mistakes. Our desire is to live perfect lives and we simply can't accept our failures. This desire is also fueled by our pride and ego. Our sinful flesh wants to look good. Also our enemy Satan wants us to focus on our performance so that when we fail he can accuse us and claim that God "can't forgive that". Many people struggle with this issue because there are so many lies that we tell ourselves. Here are some to reflect on: 1) This sin is so bad that God could never forgive it. Actually, God knew you were going to commit this sin 2,000 years ago and it was still nailed to the cross with Jesus. 2) This guilt is simply overwhelming and will never go away. Actually, God declares as truth in the bible that when we confess our sin he will take ALL the guilt completely away. 3) I am so ashamed I will never be able to live this down. God declares as truth in the Bible that when he takes the guilt away, he will flood our lives with his love, which will leave no room for any shame. So why are we living in the lies and not experiencing this liberating truth from God? The simple answer is that we are captive to these lies and need to be set free. That freedom only comes by the power of the word of God. We need to know with certainty that God has forgiven all our sins and accepts us unconditionally just as we are. Read through the whole New Testament and experience God's love and acceptance. We also need faith to trust in the promises of God to forgive us. That faith comes from meditating on the Word of God - the Bible. Sometimes the experience of forgiveness can take quite a long time. We may know we are forgiven intellectually but don't experience it emotionally because of the guilt and shame. This struggle may require coming before the Lord everyday and talking to him about it. Here is an example: "Lord, I am really struggling to forgive myself for this sin (describe the sin in detail). But I have accepted Jesus as my personal saviour and your word declares the truth that this sin was nailed to the cross and has been completely forgiven. Now I ask you to apply the blood of Jesus to my life and wash the guilt and shame away. God, I am trusting completely in you to set me free so I can forgive myself. I love you Lord and I know you love me." I urge you to continue this process until you feel the guilt and shame disappear. Then you can confidently say that you have forgiven yourself for this sin. And you can add this struggle and victory to your personal testimony and ministry for the Lord. May God bless your journey and set you free, in Jesus' name.
Jesus made a relationship with the Father possible by paying for our sin. That relationship does not depend on self-forgiveness. If one focuses on their sin and does not pursue the relationship it would be like the the son in the parable who returns and when the father throws a party he refuses join in. This would seem to be an insult to the father. "How do you overcome the guilt of your sin?" might be the better question. I only know that one who is forgiven much, loves much. The apostle Paul is an example of this dynamic. Try to imagine what he would have done had he been unable to receive God's forgiveness.
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