I had a great time at our Wednesday night Bible Study last night. In fact, the last two times that we have met (we missed last week due to too many people out because of illness) have been two of my favorite times of our Wednesday night adult Bible study since I moved to Carlsbad almost a year and a half ago. Why? Because we have actually had some great discussion and questions going.
There is a guy that has just recently come back to our church (long story, and not something I can get into on here), and he is trying hard to get his life back on track. He is asking questions, trying to better himself and better his relationship with God. But he also is dealing with things from his past and not being able to let those things go. He just can’t get to the point where he can forgive himself.
I get it. There are things that I have done in my past that were hard to let go of. This was where some of our discussion went last night, and it was very productive. The whole thing has caused me to think through some of this over the last few hours, and I want to put my thoughts down. Where do I start? We need to start with this question: Why is it so hard to forgive yourself when you have asked God for forgiveness and gone through the process of repentance as well? I have a feeling that there are a lot of us that have trouble forgiving ourselves.
We tend to compare ourselves to other people, but what we don’t understand is that we do not see everything that those other people have done. If we look at someone, we may only get to see their “highlight reel” for lack of a better term. Then we see all the negative and bad things that we have done, and that causes us to think we are horrible. So the lenses we see the world through can give us the incorrect perspective. Don’t get me wrong. We are all bad. We have all sinned. We have all done things that we probably wish we had never done. We’ll get to what Paul has to say about that topic in just a minute.
One of the other people attending the Bible study last night asked our friend if he trusted God. His answer was yes. Then the question was posed, “if you trust God, then why do you not believe Him when He says that grace has covered your sins”. In other words, Jesus’ blood, shed on the cross, was freely given and covers all sins if we accept Him as our Lord and Savior. Does that mean that we will instantly and forever be able to live perfect lives. Absolutely not! But what it means is that we do not have to do anything other than have a relationship with Jesus to receive forgiveness. As we get to know Him more, however, we grow and change through His guidance. That doesn’t mean we won’t still mess up from time to time. This is a lifelong process.
Now let’s get back to Paul. I said earlier that we are all bad, that we’ve all messed up and done things that we wished we hadn’t. And Paul would agree with that. That’s why Paul writes in Romans 3:23 the following, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. We have all sinned, and on our own we cannot repair that relationship with God that we broke through our sinfulness. When you just look at Romans 3:23, this life looks pretty bleak. It is easy to get down on yourself because you have sinned, and because of that sin you have broken your relationship with your Creator. And that’s why context is so important when studying the Bible.
Let’s take Paul’s writing in Romans 3 in a little bigger chunk. Paul writes in Romans 3:21-26;
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Man that sounds ominous. But then Paul follows that up with the hope that we all have; An all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus! There’s our hope. There’s how we lay things down and forgive ourselves. We receive forgiveness and atonement through our faith in Jesus, and if you can’t lay things down and forgive yourself when God says that it’s covered, how strong is your faith?
Stop trying to think that you are worse than others. We have all sinned, and if it wasn’t for Jesus, none of us would stand a chance of forgiveness, because we can’t do it on our own. God’s grace is freely given through Christ’s sacrifice, and we receive that through our faith. Then, as our faith continues to grow, Christ’s presence in our lives changes us more and more into His image, as we choose daily to walk with Him! Don’t cheapen Jesus’ sacrifice by believing the lie that it can’t cover over the things you’ve done. You’re no worse than anyone else, but you’re no better than anyone else either in regards to how grace works. Forgive yourself, because God has if you’ve asked for forgiveness and repented.