“You just have to forgive yourself”, my friend told me. I grievously sinned against God and another believer. My heart broke and no matter how much I asked God to forgive me I did not feel forgiven. But forgiving myself? Somehow that did not sit right in my spirit. However, I would repeat the phase to others when they felt the lack of forgiveness.
– “You just have to forgive yourself”
– “What does this mean? Is it biblical?”
Through prayer and study the Lord revealed to me why my spirit was unsettled about the statement,
– “You must forgive yourself”
As a believer I know that sin is inevitable. Even the Apostle Paul confessed his struggle.
“For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” Romans 7:19
What did the apostle Paul do when he encountered his own sin?
“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:24-25
– He acknowledged his sin.
– He acknowledged the need to be rescued from it.
– He thanked God for Jesus’ deliverance.
– He did not forgive himself.
As I continued to study I heard these questions echo in my head.
– “Did you hang on the cross?”
– “Was the sin of the world put on you?”
– “Did you endure excruciating pain?”
– “Are you God?”
Tears filled my eyes as I exclaimed
– “NO! NO! NO! NO!”
– “You did it Lord, You were the one.”
I remembered the following verse.
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness;” 1 Peter 2:24
“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people.” 1 Timothy 2:5-6
“Why do I still feel bad after knowing that I am forgiven? I know that I stand righteous before God because I am in Christ, so why am I hurting?” Fifteen years later I got my answer during a sermon from Reverend Ken Lawrence of First Baptist Church in Hampton Falls. I am ashamed to say I do not remember the sermon topic but I remember him saying, “Sin leaves a wound and that wound needs to heal.”
“That’s it! I have a spiritual wound that needs time to heal.”
I sat in the pew carefully writing down exactly what the pastor said. I continued jotting down verses that came to mind.
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
The Word is a sword that goes deep; cutting out the sin that so easily entangles; leaving a Spiritual wound. The pain from the divine surgery lingers and we think that we are not forgiven.
We must allow our sin wound to heal. This takes time.
As the Word convicts and cuts, it also heals.
“I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me.” Jeremiah 33:8
“My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.” Psalm 119:28
Why do people say, “You must forgive yourself?” In my case it was ignorance. Ignorance of what truly takes place in a person who has sinned against a most Holy God. I did not realize the pain I felt was the healing of a wound surgically removed by the word of God through conviction and repentance. I have forgiveness. I stand righteous before God in Christ. Nothing can take that Truth away.
“For He chose us in Him (Christ) before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love, In Him (Christ) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” Ephesians 1:4,7
How will you react when someone says, “You just need to forgive yourself”? Be gentle. Remember we are all at different places in our walk with Jesus.
Maybe you are the one making this statement to others. God knows your motives. My motive was to help and encourage. Also, I was repeating what I heard. Now I know the Truth.
So what do you say to someone who has sinned, asked for forgiveness and still feels guilty?
Have you been forgiven through Christ? Live in that forgiveness and embrace the Truth. Please do not judge yourself more harshly than your Heavenly Father.
Give them the Word.
“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:22
Be like Isaiah. He stood before the Holiness of God, he heard the angels. The glory of God surrounded him. He was pierced to the heart with conviction and he felt ruined.
“Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:6-8
Isaiah did not remain in the pain; He desired to serve the Lord.
The best way to heal from a Spiritual wound is serving your God.
The power to forgive comes only from God.
I promise the pain will decrease as you bask in God’s love and forgiveness.
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