Monday, July 23, 2007

But I Can't Forgive Myself

Preface: This blog expands on a discussion from the Ladies' Sunday School class yesterday.

But I can't forgive myself! Good. You don't have to!

Nowhere does scripture call upon us to forgive ourselves. An examination of Psalm 51 might help clarify repentance and forgiveness issues. Psalm 51 reveals the heart of David after the prophet Nathan confronts him with his two-fold sin: 1)lust and adultery; 2)coveting and murder. At the beginning is a cry for God's mercy, based upon his compassion and love, followed by confession coupled with a plea for forgiveness.

"Against you, you only, have I sinned..." Is David denying, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, having sinned against the family of Uriah - including Bathesheba? Doesn't Paul teach, "... he who sins sexually sins against his own body" (I Cor. 6:18)? Absolutely not. Rather, David is emphasizing the gravity of his sin and the effect that sin has had on his relationship with God. Whereas Paul is emphasizing the lasting effect that sexual sin has upon our own bodies not only physically (STD's, possibility of pregnancy, etc.), but also emotionally (in verses 15-17, the concept of "uniting" yourself with another).

God forgives sin. God wipes out our sin "as far as the east is from the west" (Psalm 103:12). However, never are we told that God wipes out our memory of our sin. He cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death (Hebrews 9:14). It is the guilt of sin that is removed, not the memory of sin and not the consequences of sin. A very simple illustration is when one uses money foolishly. The money is gone. Depending upon how much was spent, there could even be the consequence of having to take on a second job or work overtime to meet needs. The money is gone, but if we confess this sin, or any other sin, God is faithful and just to forgive our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9).

You see, God does the forgiving. When you continue in a state of guilt after having confessed your sin and repented of your sin, three things have happened: 1) you have moved into the sin of unbelief by denying the power of God to forgive, 2) you have given the devil an opportunity to prey upon you, and 3) you have confused rememberance and consequences with the false notion that you need to forgive yourself.

What steps might you take to combat the enemy?
1. Put on the full armor of God which prepares us to fight through prayer (Ephesians 6:10-18).
2. "Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (II Cor. 10:5). When tempted with the thought of wallowing in past sin, make that thought obedient to Christ by reminding yourself of scriptures such as Psalm 51 and I John 1:9.
3. Renew your mind (Romans 12:2) by setting your heart and mind on things above (Col. 3:1-2).
4. Recruit godly brothers and/or sisters to pray for you.
5. Of course, all of these steps necessitate reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating on the Word.

Now, may the peace of God guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus!


Anonymous said...

What if what you know and what you feel are conflicting??

Anonymous said...

I awoke this morning at about 4:30 am.

I too am struggling with unforgiveness of myself. Well maybe not unforgiveness of myself but rather an inability to come to terms with the seeming crushing unsustainable weight of the consequences of my sin.

I am in a very dark place.

I am completely removed from my wife and six children. I have been sent away from my church. It hurts so much that I can barely type these words. My life seems completely over and at times, even now I wish it were. Only though if I could go to heaven not hell for I do know that hell would be even worse than this earthly fire I am in. At least there is hope of finding hope here. Oh the wrenching pain of having let down my Lord , my family and the body of Christ. Oh the wrenching anguish. Oh save me from myselfinwardly my God and create a new spirit within me.

Amy said...

Dear Anonymous - if you happen to come back and look at this response... please read the post made after this one about fact and feeling. Also, I would strongly encourage you to go to a Bible teaching/preaching church. Talk to someone there and make yourself attend and learn. Get to know some of the men in the church in a way that you can be accountable. The website for my church is on this blog. Go to it and email the pastor (my husband). I'm sure he would be willing to help you locate a church in your area.

Anonymous said...

If I have made mistakes in the past, does that mean I deserve to be alone the rest of my life? I have changed and asked God's forgiveness (and my family's), but I isolate myself from people because I feel I don't deserve their company.

Amy said...

When someone has truly repented and turned to Christ, that person is a new creation. The old has gone and Christ has made all things new (II Cor. 5:17). You are a new person! Not only should you NOT isolate yourself but you NEED to be in the company of fellow believers. Read Hebrews 10:19-25. This is a beautiful passage about our position in Christ, our confidence before HIM and our need for one another.

As far as "deserving" the company of others... Apart from Christ, none of us deserves anything but eternal damnation in hell. We are all in the same boat. I don't care what people, even Christians, you are referring to, none of them have any basis for looking down on you. Get in a local church that teaches the Bible. Avoid a church that teaches everything will always be "ok" because God wants us to be healthy, wealthy, and prosperous. That is not what scripture teaches. If a church teaches that we have to do any work to earn God's favor, they are in error (Eph. 2:1-10). Avoid such a church. Our salvation is in Christ and in him alone. Because of his great love for us, our heart's desire will be to serve him through good works. But, these works do not save us or earn God's love.

Look for a church that accepts you and that wants to help you grow in the Lord.

Hope this helps.