Forgiveness: Feelings and Fact – Self-Blame Blaster
Key Bible Verse: “Come now, let us argue this out,” says the Lord. “No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it.” – Isaiah 1:18
Bonus Reading: Psalm 103:12
Rich came to my office to talk about his struggle to accept God’s forgiveness. He had fought in the Vietnam War and had done things he didn’t want to remember, much less tell others about. These things were done in the line of duty, but he still felt guilt and shame. He knew God forgave him, but he had times when he struggled to forgive himself.
As Rich shared his story, I longed for this brother to walk in the freedom and joy of forgiveness. I had no idea what to say. There is no easy answer or quick fix for a man struggling with such deep guilt. During our conversation, the Holy Spirit put a thought in my mind and words on my lips that helped this struggling man.
I asked Rich if he was certain God had forgiven him. He gave an emphatic, “Yes!” I asked him again, if he was confident, in the core of his heart that forgiveness of Jesus Christ on the cross was enough to wash his sins away. He looked at me as if I were a bit dense and said, “I have no problem understanding God’s forgiveness; my problem is I can’t forgive myself.”
What I said in response to his assertion could have angered or offended him, but it didn’t. I said, “You have to forgive yourself; you are placing yourself above God.”
He stared at me in stunned amazement. “I never looked at it that way. That’s true. I do have to forgive myself.”
—Kevin Harney in Seismic Shifts
My Response: Have I accepted God’s “Not guilty!” verdict for my confessed sin?
Thought to Apply: There can be no sin on all the earth, which the Lord will not forgive to the truly repentant!—Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Russian novelist)
Adapted from Seismic Shifts (Zondervan, 2005).