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!