We can be bound by a sense of guilt, shame, and condemnation that seems to justify why we believe we can’t be forgiven (or why we shouldn’t forgive ourselves). We need to come to understand that the very essence of forgiveness is that it is unmerited and undeserved. Although it may be difficult, we need to see Jesus’ forgiveness as a gift, and in spite of the reality of our sin, simply open and receive the gift of forgiveness He offers us. God’s forgiveness is a free gift based on His grace.
”For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV).
Receiving this gift with no strings attached goes against our human nature, and especially against our identity dependent false beliefs. We are faced with a choice when we feel unworthy of forgiveness. Either the grace of Jesus is sufficient for us, or it is not. Which belief we choose to live by will determine our future. How foolish that we would reject a gift that God already bought for us, one that took something so precious as Jesus to purchase. The truth is, we aren’t worthy. God offers us His gift not because we are worthy, but because He loves us unconditionally as His children!
Accepting and Receiving God’s Forgiveness
In an earlier chapter, I provided great detail explaining God’s process for us to turn from the brokenness of sin and shame in our lives, to the forgiveness and freedom of His love and mercy. Let’s look at that again here as we implement it – right now – into our personal situation.
- Because we may have the impression that God is looking to us to be perfect, we may tend to want to bring Him the good rather than the bad in our lives. Actually, God wants us to admit to Him, agreeing with what He already knows about the sins and shame we carry. “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth” (1 John 1:8 NLT). We don’t just admit that sin is there. God requires that we actually speak and tell Him specifically what our sin is and how it occurred. “But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NIV). We must stop trying to cover it up and striving to make things right in our human efforts. In this moment – right now – come to Him as you are, telling Him what’s not right in your life.
- Repentance indicates a turn in direction. It’s not just an outward change in our behavior. In fact, if we get legalistic and focus on the outward appearance, we’ll miss the entire point. Real repentance comes when our heart and mind are able to recognize the truth of God rather than the lies we’ve believed. We see things from His perspective and realize how we didn’t measure up and where we went wrong. If we did anything or believed anything that opposed the word of God, we will need to repent. “Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19-20 NIV). What a wonderful promise that, as we repent, not only will God forgive us our sins, but He’ll also bring us renewal of our nearness to Him.
- Accepting God’s forgiveness. Receiving is the most difficult step in this process for many of us. God’s forgiveness is always a gift. He does require something on our part, but the forgiveness itself is free. We may continually push aside forgiveness in order to invoke our own form of punishment on ourselves. We may even feel this is a noble and responsible thing to do by declining it, but how this grieves God’s heart! On the cross, Jesus paid the price for our sin. Therefore, when we reject His forgiveness, we essentially reject the finished work He did on our behalf.
Prayer to Trust God’s Love
Father God, I don’t feel worthy of forgiveness for some of the things I have done. I know Your forgiveness is free, but the things I’ve done don’t seem to fit the criteria. Yet I must face the truth that You bled and died on that cross on my behalf. Why would I deny You that in my life? Please help me, Lord. Fill me with Your truth. Create in me a clean heart and remove everything in me that is not of You. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
Soul health and spiritual maturity cannot be separated. Our counselors are ordained Christian ministers as well as certified and licensed Christian counselors. We are able to help you experience freedom from shame, anxiety, depression, or marriage / relationship conflict with methods that are purely Christ-centered. Please click on this link to learn much more about how our MARRIAGE COUNSELING can help you become a more authentic follower of Christ, and help you find freedom from identity dependence.
Life Training offers convenient sessions at our office in Louisville, Kentucky, as well as online counseling via Zoom or FaceTime. Our non-profit counseling practice has an outstanding track record for over a decade helping men and women, individuals and couples who are ready to move beyond anxiety, depression, and conflicts in marriage or other relationships find hope and healing in their lives. Contact us today at 502-717-5433, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org