Think for a moment of the worst sin you’ve committed… Yeah, that one.
If you’re like most people, your mind raced with lightning speed to that moment you wish you could take back and relive.
What’s more, the thought didn’t come alone. Along with it came a wagonload of guilt that builds pressure in your chest like a trapped hot-air balloon every time those memories surface. Is there true forgiveness for these things? Truth is, you just can’t forgive yourself because God doesn’t really forgive and forget for that sort of thing, does He?
One of the biggest problems with our thoughts of God is that we can’t quite shake the idea that He’s like us, only bigger. Most of us spend little time thinking about the god we’ve created in our own image; we just take it for granted that our vague idea of Him is accurate. Because we tend to think carelessly about God – that He’s like us – we come to believe a lie that even though we’ve confessed our sin, we aren’t fully forgiven (because we don’t forgive so easily). Why else would that wave of guilt rise up every time memory serves to taunt us with the blackness of our failures?
If you were really forgiven, wouldn’t you feel it?
Feelings are a lot like the wind – powerful, but they come and go. We’d better find something more reliable to base our understanding on than how we may be feeling in any given moment.
“A broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise,” says Psalm 51:17, and in Psalm 34, we are told that God is near those who have a broken heart and saves those who have a contrite spirit. Is your heart broken over your sin? Do you come to the Father with a heart crushed from the sin you’ve committed against Him, yourself, and others? Are you like the man Jesus saw weeping in the temple, too ashamed to lift his eyes to heaven, beating his chest, crying out, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13)?
The merciful, gentle Father comes near to you whose heart is broken over sin, whose spirit is crushed under the guilt and grief of sin. God is near. He’s a God of mercy, but He is also a God of justice. At first glance, this might seem like the bad news. He’s a God of justice? After what I’ve done, no wonder I don’t feel forgiven. But the exact opposite is true if we come to God His way. Too often, we’d rather come to God on our terms rather than His. But when it comes to forgiveness for sins, God says, in effect, I want it done My way.
And what is that way? Where do the broken and contrite go? Where does the weak and wounded sinner find true forgiveness? Jesus says,
Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. – Matthew 11:28
But some may protest that they just can’t seem to find the “rest” spoken of.
Maybe you have come to the Cross and confessed your sins but still don’t feel forgiven. Don’t settle for how you might be feeling just now. It’s time to put feelings in their place – time to get proactive about what the Bible says has happened and what we are told we must now do.
God being a God of justice is not the bad news for us sinners; it’s the great news.
It is because of the justice of God that we are truly forgiven. That’s what God is trying to tell us in 1 John 1:9:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
We are told here that if we confess, God is faithful to forgive. This simply means that He will do exactly what He says He will do. He can be trusted to follow through. There’s no “maybe” or “perhaps” with God when it comes to forgiving our confessed sins. He is faithful to do so, but He isn’t just faithful. He’s also just. He is the God of justice and when we truly confess, there is a judicial proceeding that is set in motion. Justice is served. Said in reverse, if God didn’t forgive you when you confess your sins, He would be unjust.
Excerpted with permission from A Beautiful Defeat by Kevin Malarkey, copyright Thomas Nelson, 2014.
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Do you feel forgiven? Even when you think of the worst sin you ever committed? Do you feel the need to repent again and again or do you feel free from guilt and shame? Come join the conversation on our blog! We’d love to hear from you about forgiveness God’s way! ~ Devotionals Daily