Chapter 4: Lies Women Believe About Sin
Day 3: Sin and Grace
Lie #15: “God Can’t Forgive What I’ve Done.”
Before we get too far down the road with this topic, I want to start by clarifying a few things. This truth is specifically for those who have been accepted by Christ and have been washed clean by His blood. There is a dangerous idea in the world that all you have to do to go to heaven is ask forgiveness for your sins, but it’s not that simple. Justice must be served for the penalty of your sin; Jesus paid that penalty and the Father accepted His sacrifice in your place. This is called substitution atonement. Before your sins can be forgiven, they must be paid for. To read more about Jesus’ sacrifice, click here.
Remember how we once described pride as having a “positive” (inflated) side and a “negative” (deflated) side? Not that one kind of pride is good and another is bad, but more to describe the way pride can be expressed. It can be inflated or deflated, but both types are pride. Our last lie, “My Sin Isn’t That Bad,” is an example of inflated pride. This one is an example of deflated pride. But they’re both pride, they both blind, and they’re both destructive.
We often decide God cannot forgive us because we are chasing a feeling. It’s a feeling of peace, of calm. It’s something we want to feel when we consider what we’ve done. But we can never have that feeling when looking at our sins, our failures, and our consequences. In fact, if we could ever feel okay about those things, we’d probably go right back to doing them. We’d be psychopaths!
God’s forgiveness isn’t defined by feeling but by faith in God’s promises to us.
When we operate on feeling, we quickly become frustrated and then attempt to take matters into our own hands, hoping we can achieve it ourselves, instead. We begin to say things like, “I know God has forgiven me, but I just can’t seem to forgive myself.” However, you don’t need your own forgiveness; you need God’s. He’s the one you sinned against. You can’t forgive yourself. It’s not possible. And it’s definitely not Biblical. Again, if we could forgive ourselves, we’d be okay with what we did, and feel free to do it again; never mind the fact that we’d no longer need God in order to achieve peace.
Another way we try to overcome our feelings of guilt to find peace is through penance. Making up for it. Earning forgiveness. But you can’t earn forgiveness! Forgiveness is a gift. And again, if we could earn it, why did Jesus need to die? Why would we need God at all?
Consider forgiveness in human relationships. When someone sins against me, it hurts. And now they owe me. But when they ask forgiveness, God commands me to give it. And this forgiveness costs me, not them. It means I pay the debt so they don’t have to. They deserve to hurt, to be punished, and to pay. Forgiveness doesn’t erase the cost; it means I’m eating the cost instead of them.
The same is true with our interactions with God. He grants us forgiveness, but it’s not free; it costs him. But that’s how forgiveness works. If it were something we could earn, it would not be forgiveness. Because there is nothing we could do to earn God’s favor, affection, and love. We already have it. We just need to accept it, which requires humility.
Our pride says that we need to make up for it; our pride says we’re too wicked; our pride says we need to punish ourselves; our pride says we need to forgive ourselves; our pride makes it all about us. And in looking at ourselves, we eclipse God from view.
God says you can’t make up for what you did. God says your sins have already been paid for. God says Jesus sacrifice was enough for the most wicked person who ever lived; it’s enough for you. God says you can’t forgive yourself, so stop trying. God says it’s not about you and your failures; it’s about Jesus and his mercy and grace.
It started at the cross when we surrendered our lives to Christ, and each time we sin, it comes back to the cross; remember the cost of your sin. Remember the shame. And then remember the grace. Remember the love. Remember the finality. It is finished.
“Deep within this man I hang beside is the place where shame and grace collide, and it’s beautiful agony that He believes it’s not too late for me. This is how Love wins, every single time, by climbing high upon a tree where someone else should die.”
When we sin, the Holy Spirit immediately brings conviction. There’s guilt. And our first response is to remove the guilt; however, part of the problem is that we’re guessing at how to do that. But God has removed the guess work. And you can’t remove the guilt of your sin without repenting of your sin. And I think that’s half our battle. We feel guilty, we want relief, but we don’t want repentance.
How do you repent? First, you take personal responsibility before God for your sin. Confession means “to say the same thing as” and repentance starts with agreeing with God against yourself. Be honest; he already knows. Let your heart break, feel the humiliation. Brokenness leads to repentance which leads to salvation. And then commit to turn away from your sin. Forsake it, forever. You must burn some bridges and build some walls to keep you from committing that sin again. Establish accountability. Put obstacles in your way. Shut the door, lock it, and put a couch in front of it, because if you leave the door cracked or unlocked, you’ll go right back through it.
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,
Once we’ve repented, as God has directed through His word, we have His promise that we are forgiven.
Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
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.
This are just a few passages, and there are many more that talk about how God removes our sin from us, forgives us, and restores us. Now it’s just up to us to believe Him.
We tend to hold on to our sin a lot longer than God. Have you ever had someone apologize to you for something, and you accept it and forgive them, but they keep bringing it up? It’s so frustrating! It’s like, will you just believe me? I already told you I forgive you! Let it go! But we do the same thing with God. We repent for something, but the feelings don’t come fast enough, so we think that He didn’t really forgive us, so we bring it up again. And again. And again. And again. And we begin to, once again, focus more on us and our emotions and our sin than on God and His promises to us, thus making us a self-fulfilling prophecy. God let it go ages ago; we’re the ones who are holding on.
So the only question that remains is will you believe God or yourself?
Will you trust your emotions? Your guilt? Your fear? Your anxiety?
Or will you surrender, believe God, and put yourself in a position to be restored, renewed, and refreshed? To experience peace, joy, and love?
- Feelings are indicators, not dictators.
- There is no sin too great for God to forgive.
- I don’t need to forgive myself, I need to accept God’s forgiveness.
- I must repent to receive God’s forgiveness.
- If I am struggling with guilt, I must go back to the cross, make sure I’ve repented, and then believe God.
- I must choose to believe God over how I feel.
- Why Good Friday is Good
- Claiming the Truth
- The Power of Personal Responsibility
- Thinking About What You’re Thinking About
In a word: passionate. About Jesus, church, ministry, music, reading, family, friends, and sometimes even iced skinny soy mochas.