A visitor to “Katherine Walden Ministries” once wrote me.
“I’ve asked forgiveness for my sins many times, but I don’t feel that I can forgive myself. I am not sure that God wants to forgive me. How do I know that I am forgiven?”
I wrote in answer:
First of all, thank you for writing. You ask a good question. How do we know we are forgiven? Do we have to prove to God how sorry we are before we are forgiven? Here is some freedom for you. You don’t have to prove yourself to God; you only have to confess to Him.
1 John 1:9
If we confess* our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (KJV)
*Confess: To take complete ownership of specific thoughts, actions, words and behaviours. To admit to God that these actions, thoughts have brought harm to others and yourself.
Confession may require that you confess these sins to others with a heart free of self-defence and blame.
2 Chronicles 7:14 – “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Repentance goes beyond saying you are sorry for your sins. Repentance requires a heartfelt desire to abandon that particular sin and never return to it. Repentance is a conscious choice to turn away from those sinful thoughts, attitudes, behaviours, and actions that we bring before Him. The moment we come to Him in repentance we are given God’s empowering forgiveness and His grace to walk into lasting freedom from guilt and overwhelming shame.
Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection earned our forgiveness. Our slate is wiped clean. If at a later date, God were to look at our criminal record, there would be no mention of any previously confessed sin. If we stumble and fall back into that specific sin, God’s offer of forgiveness is still valid. We only need to return to Him once again. There is no limit to His forgiveness, and there is no limit to His grace. There is no limit to His power to help us conquer those areas of our lives where we have unhealthy patterns that lead us toward temptation.
If you confessed your sin and turned in the other direction, you’ve been forgiven. Now go! Honour the sacrifice the sacrifice paid for that forgiveness by living your life in transparency, integrity and joy!
To experience forgiveness, we need to realise just what we need forgiveness from. Many people generalise their confessions by painting themselves with the harsh broad stroke of condemnation. “I am a terrible, terrible person. You must hate me, God.” When we come to God with a blanket statement of self-loathing, it is difficult for us to feel God’s forgiveness. Being wise and merciful, God only convicts us of specific sins. He is an excellent surgeon, using his sharp two-edged sword to go right to the meat of the matter.
Hebrews 4:12 – “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
In modern terms, God’s conviction is more accurate and exact than the most advanced surgical laser. He pinpoints particular sins in our lives in the hope that we will come to Him for forgiveness and take up His offer to walk with Him into lasting freedom.
Upon our confession of sin, God wholly and instantaneously frees us from any eternal consequence of our sin. However, we are often must face the earthly consequences of our sin. For example, those of us who have abused our bodies through wrong lifestyle choices may have health difficulties as a result of these violations to our bodies. The good news is God can and does heal today. With His help and our determination to submit ourselves to the guidance He provides, we will walk in freedom. To maintain that freedom, we need to stay humble through seeking the support of the medical community when necessary and to find fellow believers who will lovingly hold us accountable to follow through on our determination to walk in freedom.
Sometimes those whom we have sinned against may choose not to forgive us even though we have made amends with them to the best of our ability. At that point, we must make amends only as far as the person we have offended feels comfortable to allow. Restitution could require paying for the financial damage we have caused others. It could mean legal ramifications in the court system.
It is important to note that such consequences have nothing to do with the fact we are forgiven by God. Earthly consequences are not a sign of God’s eternal judgment and punishment over us. Jesus paid our debt, and in the eyes of God there is nothing between us and His loving arms. We are given the opportunity to walk in the complete freedom provided to us through Christ’s sacrifice. God never refuses a repentant heart.
Psalm 51:16-17 (NRSV) For you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased. The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
When we don’t forgive ourselves, we hold ourselves in chains that keep dragging us down back into the very sin we want to avoid. As we embrace God’s forgiveness, we permit God to snap that heavy chain, releasing us from the overbearing weight of guilt and self-loathing.
Forgiveness is not an emotion; it is a legal transaction. God knows you are guilty of your sin and He knows the only way for you to find forgiveness of sin was through the death of His Son. Jesus stands with you in the court of law and says. “I have taken the punishment for this sin on the cross, and I rose from the dead, so this one can be set free.”
1 John 2:1-2 -“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”
Hebrews 7:26-28 (MSG) -“So now we have a high priest who perfectly fits our needs: completely holy, uncompromised by sin, with authority extending as high as God’s presence in heaven itself. Unlike the other high priests, he doesn’t have to offer sacrifices for his own sins every day before he can get around to us and our sins. He’s done it, once and for all: offered up himself as the sacrifice.”
Jesus took our punishment. We do not need to wait for a warm fuzzy feeling to know we are forgiven. The cross serves as a stark reminder of the price God paid so He could pronounce forgiveness over His beloved children. Jesus paid the price; He took our place and took our punishment.
It is said in some denominational traditions. “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” As you are a part of that world, you have been given an invitation to live in that forgiveness. You have full access to that forgiveness, every day, every hour.
I hope you will find the following resources from our ministry site on the subject of forgiveness to be a help:
Did you know I post short videos on YouTube? Subscribe today – it’s free to do so. No strings attached. You’ll receive a notification I posted!
Don’t forget. Follow me on my personal timeline on Facebook. I no longer will be using my Facebook Ministry Page as I cannot afford an advertising budget that is required for you to see what I post there. You do not need to send me a friend request to follow me! Here is the LINK
Until Next Week
©2008, 2018 Katherine Walden
Sign up to receive a weekly emailed devotional by Katherine by using the following form.