If you’ve just joined us, you might not know that we’ve been talking forgiveness… and what began as a couple of questions after a post called, “There’s just something about canceled debt”, has now become a series of blog posts on the subject. I’ve been blessed with the company of another blogger on this series. Donna Lowe graciously shared her biblical, Godly perspective in, “Understanding Forgiveness”, and she will be sharing two more blogs in the next couple of weeks. I dug into the meaning of the words in, “Forgiveness defined“.
So where are we at this point? Where are you?
I’m going back to the original questions of Suzan, who said,
“The debt of guilt! Now there’s a concept… I have to say guilt can really rule my life at times. I think more often than not guilt stems from our inability to forgive ourselves rather than someone else. I think for many people it’s the hardest forgiveness to achieve. Are there any stories in the bible that address this?“
So far we’ve looked at stories in the Bible that talk about forgiveness… God’s forgiveness that is available to each of us. Donna looked at the story of David, who needed God’s forgiveness BIG time! And there are take-homes for us from this story, as well as many other Bible stories about regular folk who needed God to forgive them… which he did. Over and over again. Read Donna’s post to see how David’s story applies, illustrating how God longs to be in a pure love relationship with each of us.
There are also many Bible stories about forgiving others. It’s clear that we are to forgive others as God forgives us… over and over again. We can see how often we are to forgive… HERE, why we are to forgive… HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE, when we are to forgive… HERE, who we are to forgive (love)… HERE and HERE, how we are to forgive… HERE and HERE.There are other examples as well.
What I cannot see is any Biblical stories or verses about forgiving myself or forgiving God. I’m adding ‘Forgiving God’ as it’s something that is somewhat related. Which leads me to wonder where these concepts come from? I’ve read them in books, been presented with these ideas by speakers, in conversation… but is it truth? Can it be substantiated in scripture? At this point I cannot find any reference to either concept in the Bible. If you know of something I’ve missed, please share with us. But, if it’s not there, it’s not true. That’s my foundational belief.
Let’s look at the question of forgiving God first. If I need to forgive God… then what does that say of God? I believe it says a few things;
• God needs to be forgiven by me.
• God has done something wrong.
• God is guilty.
The God that I am growing to know… the Hebrew God, the ‘I AM’ of the Bible, is a perfect, holy, awesome, all-powerful, all-knowing, Creator God. He does not need anything from me, certainly not my forgiveness. God does not make any mistakes. God therefore cannot be guilty of any offense as he cannot do anything wrong. That would go against his character… the core of who he is.
So, my need to forgive God is possibly similar to my need to ask forgiveness or offer forgiveness to others sometimes. It makes me feel better, gets things out in the open, let’s me vent, puts my burden partially back on them. It’s self-focused, rather than God-focused. It relieves me of my responsibility in the thing. I do not believe it to be necessary, nor is it based on the truth. Although I have practiced this in the past, I now believe I was wrong… arrogant in my thinking. I should not forgive God. Nothing is his fault.
What about forgiving myself? I can find no Bible stories that support this idea either. Yet, might it still be needed? That’s a little more complicated, I think. In my opinion, if I,
a) take responsibility for my actions,
b) live through the consequences of them,
c) understand that I am in control of my choices and that what I do, or did is a result of me doing things ‘my way’,
d) asked forgiveness from the people I may have hurt because of my choices, and
e) asked for forgiveness from God for not doing things His way, (not necessarily in that order), and
if I still feel that I need to forgive myself… then I guess it might be a worthwhile exercise to do.
I’d like to believe that it might be unnecessary to do this if I have undertaken all of the above steps. You may not agree, and I know and respect that everyone’s life circumstances are varied. But, asking for, and receiving God’s forgiveness, is a supernatural experience that removes, in it’s entirety, your guilt. There is none left. If we keep a clean slate with God, asking forgiveness on a daily basis for our mistakes, our shortcomings, then we can live in a wide open place of freedom from guilt, regret, remorse. I’d like to live that way. It’s my choice to do so every day.
One more thought… it’s possible to take guilt back. It’s possible to live like you are not forgiven. We are such complicated creatures, and so we can live believing lies about ourselves and others. If you take back the guilt, you are living a lie, living the past. YOU HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN ONCE AND FOR ALL. Let it go. Believe in God’s truth of having been forgiven. Human forgiveness is imperfect. God’s forgiveness is completely perfect. Read and re-read scripture verses that press this truth into your heart. Daily, hourly if you have to. That is the only way to fight against the lies.
Here are some verses, among many, that will help you;
1 John 2:12 (NIV)
12I remind you, my dear children: Your sins are forgiven in Jesus’ name.
7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.
Romans 10:9 (The Message)
It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—”Jesus is my Master”—embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: “God has set everything right between him and me!”
John 3:16-18 (The Message)
16-18“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.
Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to join in our conversation. If you have any comments, please don’t hesitate to add your two cents.
Living and learning,