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Forgiven means forgiven.

Updated: Jan 17, 2023

“as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭103‬:‭12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Really Lord? Are my sins really removed not just to the other side of Canton, Michigan (my hometown) but as far as from east to west? How far is that? Can you even measure that?

No. And that's the point.

But our memory is what makes this hard to receive. Often we have repented (IF we've repented, and sometimes that's a big "IF"), received forgiveness from God, God has embraced us fully, and yet we still walk in shame and guilt unable to receive the gift of grace. That is because forgiving ourselves is often the last thing left for us to do. The personal, 4K, High Definition understanding of the gravity of your own sin can make you the last one to forgive you.

Now having a deep and honest picture of how we've sinned against God and others in itself is not bad. In fact, too many have too shallow of a picture of how they've offended the holiness and majesty of their Creator, many times thinking too lightly of their cosmic crimes. Especially those who perhaps have never struggled with substance abuse, or sexual sin, or murder, or anything like those "BIG" sins committed by the "truly wicked" people of the world (Sarcasm intended). Not realizing that the One who hates divorce (Mal 2:16) also hates lying and flattering lips (Psalm 12:3-4). But I digress.

But for the rest of us who know we've offended God and just made a whole mess of life, believing that our sins are removed is hard, and forgiving ourselves is sometimes even harder. But failure to do so is also more damaging than we might think. Let me explain.

The problem at hand is self condemnation. Not only is the Bible clear that there is now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1), but self condemnation after we have already been forgiven by God is actually born from pride, not humility. It appears to be humble as it insists on the need to punish oneself beyond what God has done, but that attitude belongs to the pride side, the flesh, not the Spirit. It is our pride that is bold enough to say to God that His judgement to forgive our sin was actually the wrong call. It is pride that dares to say to the judge of the whole earth (Gen 18:25), yay even the universe, that we know better than Him and we so will continue in our self wallowing.

It also is a great offense to Jesus. Jesus died to forgive sin— to reconcile man back to God in an eternal and glorious relationship. To reject His forgiveness is to rule His work as unnecessary or insufficient. It is to say that for you, the cross is either unable or undesired. Both are egregious and blasphemous thinking.

There is still another reason that refusing to forgive oneself that just might be the most problematic. Often a person doesn’t forgive themselves because although they know the scriptures, they really don’t believe them. They don’t actually believe that God has forgiven them. And so they reject the sentiment altogether. But Scripture is chock full of liars, murderers, adulterers, slanderers, blasphemers, polygamists, and prostitutes who were not only forgiven, but used of God in mighty ways despite their sin. And that is why we see their sins recorded, so that our own sin can be seen as forgivable. And we can be seen as redeemable. Because we are! No one out of reach. Not one sinner. I should know.

1 John 4:16 says, "We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us." Did you catch that? It says that we have come to know AND have BELIEVED the love. So tell me, do you believe it? He already proved it.

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

"We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." 1 John 3:16

And He still proves it everyday. And it all started with our sins being fully, completely, and thoroughly washed. "though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Isaiah 1:18

If you're in Christ through faith, then you have this forgiveness I'm writing about. But if not, it is available through this faith I mention. And that is faith in Christ, believing that He died to take away sin and the punishment that belonged to you, punishment that your rebellion against a Holy God has earned you fair and square. But God, in love and mercy sent His Son to live a sinless life in order to be a perfect substitute to take the place of you and me and the whole world by dying on the cross.

But He did not stay dead. In three days He was raised to life, demonstrating that He was truly a man who died, and truly God who was resurrected. And His payment for our sins is sufficient and it completes the work needed to be saved (John 19:30). All that is left is to accept that you are unable to save yourself. Only by accepting His work on the cross and believing in Him and repenting of your sins can a man be saved. This is the gospel. Believe be forgiven.

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