By Barb Mulvey
So often in the counseling room I hear women tell me they can’t forgive themselves. In tears they condemn themselves for things that they have done. I would like to take some time to address that concept.
Point 1. There is no Biblical verse to support the idea that we must forgive ourselves.
The Bible tells us to ask God to forgive us. This is a vertical flow – we ask God to forgive us (1 John 1:9) and He does. Also Mark 11:25 says, “And when you stand praying (i.e.; talking to God), if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that you Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” ‘Forgive’ here is a command. So in prayer we hand our offenses over to Him, releasing our ‘right’ to revenge. Luke 17:3-4 talks about forgiving others – this is the outward/horizontal flow of forgiveness. There is no verse that tells us to forgive ourselves – an inward flow.
Point 2. It is a trick, a deception of Satan.
If Jesus paid for all sin on the cross, and I believe He did, then Jesus has already paid for that sin. Satan is tricking you into paying for it twice. You are beating yourself up, punishing yourself for something that is already paid for. If you paid off your mortgage and held the title in your hand, you would be celebrating. If the bank called and said, “No, you have to pay for it again,” you would not. Why are you paying for your sin twice?
Point 3. You are the small claims court; God is the Supreme Court.
If the Supreme Court declares you not guilty, (which it has) – whose verdict are you going to accept: the small claims court? or the Supreme Court? You can stay imprisoned by your own volition, but God has declared you not guilty (based on the blood of Christ).
Point 4. This is a statement of pride.
You are basically saying, “I just can’t believe I did that.” It is a statement of someone who doesn’t acknowledge that their sin nature is still alive and well. They think they are above sin. They are not. James tells us “we all stumble in many ways” 1 John 1:8 tells us “if we say we are without sin, we lie and the truth is not in us.” Basically you are saying ‘my standard of holiness is higher than God’s. He can forgive me BUT I can’t forgive myself.’ What you are really saying is ‘I have not received the forgiveness God has offered me.’ You see, just like love, God pours out forgiveness. The question is, have you received it? Has Satan tricked you into not receiving God’s forgiveness? We know in Matthew 18, the story of the unmerciful servant, that God forgave him lavishly when he asked. When we ask, God forgives. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
The real problem is a lack of faith.
Do you believe God forgives?
Or do you believe you have to ‘add’ your own punishment to Christ’s cross?
Will you walk in the wonder of the gift of forgiveness that Christ’s shed blood bought for you? God has forgiven you! All your sins - under the blood! You are purified of your unrighteousness! Open your heart and receive God’s forgiveness right now. Walk in His freedom today!
by Cris Paulson www.HopeAhead.org
I often hear some version of this question in counseling:
Why isn’t God making it easier for me to change?
Why is everything so hard?
Why can’t I fix other people?
As women, especially Christian women, we often take too much responsibility for things around us—for making people happy, for solving everyone’s problems, for being perfect and never failing. We think we can keep bad things from happening, we think we know what people should do and say, we think we have a perfect plan for our life and everyone else’s. Do you see that those can’t possibly happen?? Our “perfect plan” stalls out and dies a painful death—then we blame God for it!
In our book Hope Ahead (Chapter 8), Barb and I discuss What has God done for you? At the moment you accepted Jesus as your personal Savior, He FOUGHT for you!
FORGAVE all your sins,
OVERCAME the enemy and crushed sin’s power over you,
Made you UNIQUE, with special talents, gifts and purposes,
Gave GRACE, divine power and kindness to live,
Gave the HOLY SPIRIT, the indwelling Teacher, Guide and Comforter,
Gave TRUTH in the Bible that sets you free.
The BIG things—the works that are beyond your ability—these are things God has done for you:
Forgiveness comes from God, who alone can forgive, wash you clean and give you a fresh start. Big forgiveness at salvation, then daily forgiveness to stay clean.
At salvation, when God places His divine nature in you and you become a new creation, God crushed Satan’s power over you. You stepped into His supernatural power that can conquer every evil and have victory in every situation. You no longer have to be controlled by old sins.
You couldn’t make yourself, but God formed you in wonderful ways, perfectly suited for the plan He has for your life. He created you with just the combination of personality, desires, hopes, dreams, and skills He wanted you to have.
God’s Grace is a sweet breath of life. It is His patience when we fail and His gentleness when things are hard. He encourages us to walk away from sin and run to Him.
God pours out the Holy Spirit of love in our hearts (Rom. 5:5). Jesus went back to Heaven, but the Holy Spirit lives inside you, helping, teaching, changing, guiding and comforting. He shows us wrong or right. He gives us wisdom and strength.
God’s Truth is the Bible—unchanging, perfect, eternal, and powerful. The truth sets us free. Wisdom for our choices, examples of faith from other believers, stories of God’s hand in history, prophecy, letters, poetry…The Bible is to learn, memorize and study, but also to DO! (James 1:22-25) God always speaks truth.
FOUGHT! This is just some of what God has done for you, set in an acronym to remember.
What is your response to all God has done for you? You FIGHT from God’s victory!
FAITH means trusting God’s ways, even in baby steps.
IDENTITY means you live as a loved child of God, work in what He created you to do.
GRATITUDE is how you respond to God’s gifts and His care.
HEART means see the battle within- between flesh and Spirit. Confess sin, forgive.
TELLING—your calling to share the good news of the Gospel. Pass on your faith.
Because you have been saved and rescued from darkness and death, you FIGHT from that victory! You FIGHT to stay in life.
Faith replaces frantic efforts to control. Faith trusts God’s sovereign control, His goodness and His wisdom. Faith is your expression of trust in your good Father God. Trust Him on things you can’t control.
Your Identity is God-given, and totally unique. You were not created like anyone else. You respond to God’s gift of uniqueness by being who you are! Knowing God loves you exactly where you are now, and trusting Him to grow you and change you every day.
Gratitude is a Christian’s response to the world. Thanking God in and through every situation, thanking God for His nearness and faithful help. Thanking God for the good things, instead of focusing on the bad.
Your Heart is Satan’s battlefield. Your job is to kill the old nature, the old desires toward sin. God has broken the power of sin, but your job is to break the practices. The more you surrender to Jesus, the stronger you will grow. The less you listen to the old sinful desires, the more powerful you will be.
Then, you TELL others! You share the joy of knowing you have been forgiven. You explain the power of forgiveness. You invite others to meet your Jesus. You talk about God’s grace at every opportunity.
Remember—God has already done His part for you. But He will not do your part for you! His part is completed, finished and available, but your part is a work in progress. We FIGHT every day, sometimes weakly, sometimes with power.
So to answer the question from the beginning, Why isn’t God making it easier for me?
God has done all the important stuff you need. He has laid out a path for you and made you as a perfect match for it. Perhaps it’s hard for you because you are not taking up your jobs. Perhaps you are busy working in other people’s lives instead of working in your own soul? Perhaps you are waiting around for God to do something you are supposed to do? Perhaps, in your anger and stubbornness, you are not listening to His voice? Start fighting the right way, and all that could change.
God’s blessings on you!! FIGHT in Victory!