by Barry Newton
The phone rang. On the other end was a familiar voice just beyond recognition. Then as he launched into asking, “how do I forgive myself?” I suddenly recalled his name and history.
“How can I forgive myself when I have wasted so many decades?”
Before I could even gather my thoughts he blurted out his current crisis. Even although his speech was not slurred, a slight bit of probing revealed what I feared. Alcohol was involved.
I’ve heard the ache and seen in people’s eyes the pain arising from decades of destructive decisions. Can a new future exist devoid of dragging along self-recrimination for past failures?
While the issues and resolution are more complex than this brief article encompasses, two truths need to be emphasized. The first is Christ’s blood is more powerful than our sin.
As horrible and destructive as sin is, hope exists. Forgiveness is possible because Jesus’ death can overcome sin’s poison.
The same satanic mantras tend to dominate those struggling with forgiving themselves:
- “There is no hope for me!”
- “God doesn’t want me, I’ve done too much.”
- “I can’t be forgiven.”
- “I will never be able to forgive myself.”
What arrogance that arises from the pit of despair! My sin is so powerful that it can defeat the Son of God? What a prideful lie!
This delusion of grandeur also promotes further sin. For if there is no hope, then what’s the point of resisting sin today?
This introduces the second truth. When the horrid nature of one’s own sinfulness is acknowledged, evil relishes for that person to develop an exclusive fixation upon it.
At first, sin might have been swallowed because it possessed a delightful candy shell lie. But once the inner poison is released, it appears Satan promotes a singular focus upon one’s own guilt producing a profound wallowing in it. In this way, the sinner equips evil with yet another mace to further bludgeon himself or herself into ruin.
To be sure, the path to self-forgiveness contains many steps including embracing the significance that some simple truths contain for our lives.
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our sins” (Ephesians 1:7).
“For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are made holy” (Hebrews 10:14).
Yes, we have sinned. We all have. But God’s power is greater than our sin. If God forgives us, who are we to insist upon guilt?
God and his power to transform our lives deserves our focus. Those who have relied upon Christ, must refuse to listen to how Satan would drag up the past to condemn what God has forgiven.
While other measures may also be needed, rejecting lies to embrace the truth can lead to forgiving self.