We want to help you understand your world. If left to our own spiritual eyesight, we’re doomed, for we won’t see the Black Dog coming. There’s more to this world than meets the eye; there’s a spiritual dimension, from which we are being attacked. This helps to explain the struggles that we have and the bondage that we’re in. Subscribe to Fight the Black Dog on iTunes and share these podcasts with your friends. Thank you and here’s the link to episode #4: Fight the Black Dog // Podcast 004 // Spiritual Optometrist.
Archives For forgiveness
God wants you to love yourself much more, not less. The highest form of self-love is love for God. Those who don’t love God really don’t love themselves—at least not very well. If you want to give yourself the greatest love possible, then make your love for God great. If you want to abuse yourself, rob yourself, and hate yourself, then refuse to love God. The person who loves God the most, loves himself the most. The same is true of love for others: the highest form of love for others is love for God. When we truly love God, then we truly have something worthwhile to offer our neighbors. Those who stop loving God will stop loving others. And those who do not love others do not love God.
Why? Simply because God is love (1 John 4:8).
So if you don’t have God then you don’t have love, at least not substantial love. If you don’t love God, then you don’t have satisfying love for either yourself or others. God’s love cleans us and clears us. It cleans us by washing us in the costly blood of Jesus. The same costly blood clears our record of guilt before our holy Maker. God’s love gives us what we could never give to ourselves on our own. Though there are plenty of things that we could give ourselves to show ourselves love, we cannot give ourselves the gifts that God offers. He offers to get rid of our filthiness and our guiltiness. His love makes us holy and blameless.
And if you don’t know where to begin, if you’re really struggling to love yourself right now, then turn your eyes to God’s love. God loves you; and he has an ocean of it waiting for you. Even when you don’t love you, God loves you. Look at the way that he loved you: he stripped his Son away from his eternal heart, in order to make room for you on his chest. Jesus was crushed beneath the weight of our lovelessness, so that you could be lovely again. When we were at our worst, his love was at its strongest. Loving yourself begins at the cross, beneath the shower of our Savior’s tears.
© Samuel Kee, 2012
Unfortunately, this is a common regret. I am sorry that someone pushed you into doing something that you didn’t want to do. No doubt you were doing what you felt you had to do in order to keep him or her happy; but in the process, you were compromised. First of all, I need you to understand that conditional sentences reveal conditional love. “If you really love me, then…” is a conditional sentence betraying a hypocritical heart. I explained this in a previous post. The best thing for you to do is find a source of unconditional love, which truly honors and values you, just for you. Conditional love is destructive.
How can you forgive yourself? First, I need to you notice the word “give” in “forGIVE.” This teaches us that the act of forgiveness requires the transfer of a gift. In order to forgive someone, you must give them a gift, which they don’t deserve. At the same time, you, the giver, must pay for both the gift and the damages that were done. If you break my television, then I can forgive you, but that doesn’t automatically erase the damage and restore my television. Someone still has to pay for it, either you or I. The damage just doesn’t go away. To forgive someone means that you will absorb the cost and pain, setting the real culprit free.
In order to forgive yourself, then you have to give yourself a gift. You have to set yourself free. However, with self-forgiveness, it’s tricky, because you are both the offender and the offended. Somehow, you have both to receive the gift and give the gift; you are both the recipient and provider. It’s kind of like eating your fingers in order to settle your hungry stomach. As you can see, self-forgiveness is not that easy to do, which is why we tend to struggle with it. You always walk around with the offender. You can’t get him or her out of your sight, because that person is you. Even if you say that you’re forgiven, that very same action will cost you. From another part of your being, you have to pay for it. Chomp, chomp.
There is no satisfactory self-forgiveness apart from receiving divine forgiveness. God gives us the gift of forgiveness when he gives to us the life of his Son, Jesus. God makes Jesus pay for our sins. Jesus absorbs the cost of our unwanted behavior, so that we don’t have to. This means that our job is to receive, not give. Every time God enters into a covenant with a people, he says to himself, “This is the kind of people that I want to save.” That’s his end of the deal—always.
But, you might ask, how do I know that I’m actually forgiven? I am glad you asked! I actually have historical evidence for our forgiveness. Think about writing a check to purchase an item. Let’s say that you want to buy the latest iPod, so you bring your checkbook to the local electronics store. You find the item, take it to the cashier, and write your check. The manager of the store will soon take your check and process it. If, after examination, it is found that there is not enough money in your checking account to stand behind your check, then it will “bounce.” You just wrote a bad check and will be fined. On the other hand, if, after examination, it’s determined that you have enough money in your account to support your check, then the check will “clear.” No more payment necessary and no fines are due.
When God paid the price for our sins, he wrote a bloody check. He paid for us by sacrificing Jesus on a cross in our place. He then poured out all of his wrath on Jesus, which was actually due to us. Jesus intercepted God’s wrath before it could reach us.
But, was it enough? Think about the astronomical price tag that Jesus was trying to cover: all of the sins, from all of the people, from all ages of time (past, present, and future), from every corner of the earth. How can we be sure that God’s check didn’t bounce? How can we be sure that God’s gift of forgiveness has not run out? That I did not exhaust his resources? That there is enough left to cover me?
Three days after God paid for our sins on the cross, his check cleared. That’s the truest meaning of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. When Jesus rose from the grave, he demonstrates to us that the issue is no longer under examination. He had sufficient funds to cover over every sin from every person from every time and every place. Jesus’ account was full of enough righteousness to credit all of our accounts, so that none of us has to pay the bill. The resurrection of Jesus is historical proof that we are forgiven; and you can’t get much clearer and convincing proof than that. Here’s how Paul puts it in Romans 4:25, when he says that Jesus, “was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” Jesus was delivered up to the cross to pay for our sins and he was raised from the grave in order to prove that we are now righteous.
In fact, to celebrate the check clearing and our reception of forgiveness, the early Jewish believers changed their sacred day of worship from Saturday to Sunday. Then they celebrated the resurrection every week, holding a special celebration once a year! (We call this Easter.) So every Sunday, you get a weekly reminder of your complete forgiveness!
The resurrected Jesus appeared to all the disciples, to the Apostle Paul, and to five hundred other people, too, showing them all that the debt has been paid in full (1 Corinthians 5:6-8). There is nothing left to pay. God does not have any punishment left for his people. His people are in the clear.
In order for you to give the gift of forgiveness to yourself, you must first receive it from God. Otherwise, you’ll have nothing to give and you’ll end up crucifying yourself. You’ll punish yourself in order to find “the gift,” but you never will. You’ll end up living a miserable life, making yourself pay in a thousand different ways. I plead with you, please, step out of this deadly cycle. You’ll never be able to clear your conscience on your own.
Take the cross of Jesus deeper into your soul. Allow his grace to wash away your sin, hurt, and regret. “They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:14). Take your filthy robe and plunge it beneath the blood of Jesus. Let him forgive you, so that you can forgive yourself, using his resources. This is the only way.
© Samuel Kee, 2012
“For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:26-30).
To begin, let me encourage you first to read my last post about how to get pure from sexual sins. You have to start with that one before moving on to this one. With that said, I want the fear of the Hebrews 10:26-30 passage to grab you by the collar, not in order to condemn you, but in order to wake you up. Grace is a force to be reckoned with.
If you don’t want to fall into the hands of grace, then you’ll fall into the hands of judgment. The question behind this terrifying passage is, “Which set of hands will you rebel against?” Will you rebel against the hands of grace or against the hands of judgment?
First, we have to see that Scripture distinguishes between deliberate sins and sins done in ignorance. Deliberate sins are called “sins with a high hand.” Listen to this passage from Number 15:
“If one person sins unintentionally, he shall offer a female goat a year old for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement before the Lord for the person who makes a mistake, when he sins unintentionally, to make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven. You shall have one law for him who does anything unintentionally…But the person who does anything with a high hand, whether he is native or a sojourner, reviles the Lord, and that person shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has despised the word of the Lord and has broken his commandment, that person shall be utterly cut off; his iniquity shall be on him.” (Numbers 15:27-31).
Sins done with a high hand are deliberate. They are done with a clear mind and solid step. The person is blatantly choosing a lifestyle that goes against God. It’s a conscious choice and a deliberate pathway. The person learns what God wants and then purposefully goes the other direction, saying all along, “I’m going to do this my way.” They raise their fist at God and shake it in his face; they want no part of the grace he offers. As the Numbers 15 passage concludes, “his iniquity shall be on him.” This means that he is not willing to give a sacrifice for his sins. He does not want his iniquity to go on the head of another life; therefore, God “rewards” him with what he wants.
Deliberate sins are a radical rebellion against God. When God comes to you and says, “I have provided a way for you to escape the punishment due to you for your sins through Jesus Christ” you have a choice to make. Either you take him up on his offer or reject him. If you reject him, then there’s no other way to pay for your sins. Either your punishment lands on Christ or it lands on you. The one who sins deliberately rejects Christ’s offer of unconditional forgiveness.
This is much different than those who sin unintentionally. Unintentional sin is still sin, but it’s not an all-out rejection of Christ’s offer. The one who sins unintentionally has not “spurned the Son of God” or “profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified” or “outraged the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:29). Rather, these are all still very precious to him. He still loves the Son of God, knows that he still needs the blood of Christ, and still depends on God’s grace.
Does that describe you? Do you still love the Son of God, know that you need his blood to cover you, and depend on his grace? Do you admit that you’re lost without him? Do you confess your dependence on him? Precisely because you cannot live without sinning, is the reason you need him.
You don’t intend to sin, but you just can’t help it. As our church fathers said, “it’s not possible for us not to sin.” Or, as 1 John 1:10 says, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” God expects us to sin; but he also expects us to accept his solution for our sins.
The one who sins with a high hand rejects his offer. The one who sins unintentionally still depends on his offer.
Sexual sins are complicated. They feed off of complex factors in our lives that drive us to them. There’s the obvious physical component to them. We all have sexual urges and desires that our sin nature capitalizes on. Our sin nature pushes us to act in ways that are damaging to us. Also, there’s an emotional component to sexual sins. Sometimes we fall into sexual sins out of a need to feel loved or accepted by another. A girl may allow her emotional need to be loved, to be guided by a boy’s physical need to be stimulated. Both guys and girls push each other into doing things that they really don’t want to do, in order to meet needs that only God can fulfill. They don’t do it intentionally, with a high hand. Rather, they do it out of weakness, allowing other forces to take control.
There’s a difference between sins done out of weakness and sins done out of rebellion. I would wager that most sexual sins are sins done out of weakness. We do them in order to get the “quick fix.” We let passions overtake us. We desire love and connection, so we go for it. We are impatient, unbelieving, and misguided. We stumble and fall. We feel guilty, afraid, and worthless. Friends, these are all the marks of unintentional sins, not sins done with a high hand.
Beloved, use your guilt to drive you to God’s grace. Doing something that you know is wrong is not the same as sinning deliberately, especially when guilt and repentance follow. Sins done with a high hand are void of either feelings of guilt or a desire to repent. High handed sins have “profaned the blood of the covenant,” calling Jesus’ sacrifice worthless. Unintentional sins, on the other hand, still cling to Christ’s sacrifice as the only precious thing left for salvation. Christ is still your only raft in the raging sea of sins.
“How can God forgive me for the sexual sins that I’ve done when I clearly knew that they were wrong?” There are three parts to this question that you have to work through to see if you’re sinning deliberately (as defined above) or unintentionally. 1) Your problem, 2) God’s solution, and 3) Your response.
Here’s how the person who sins with a high hand would respond: 1) I have sinned, 2) I reject God’s solution, 3) I am going to continue to do what I want.
Now, here’s how a person who sins unintentionally would respond: 1) I have sinned, 2) I accept God’s solution of Christ’s sacrifice, 3) With gratitude, I will continue to cling to Christ, knowing that it will often be a struggle.
I hope you see the difference between the two. Remember, you’re not perfect and this ain’t Paradise. Cling to Christ, don’t reject Christ. God has forgiven those who trust in Jesus. His heart is wide open to you, now open wide your heart to him (2 Corinthians 6:13). The more you can open up your heart to Christ in order to receive his love, the less you’ll need to open it up to others to receive their love.
© Samuel Kee, 2012
There are two common spiritual mistakes when it comes to Jesus. And both involve where you put Jesus. By dealing with these two common mistakes, you’ll be able to solve a lot of your own spiritual struggles.
The first mistake happens when we do not make Jesus the goal of our life. We put him somewhere in the middle of our life’s trajectory, rather than at the end of it. We fail to recognize him as the only God. This is not good. We place something else at the end of our life; we make something/one else the goal of our lives. This confusion causes us to live for something other than Jesus. He is not the goal of our life/he is not the God of our life. What are examples of these other goals? Comfort, control, significance, pleasures, and possessions. Think about your own life, your goals and desires. What are you truly living for? Are you living for Jesus? Is he the goal of your life, what you most want to get out of it?
Here’s one way I’ve seen this mistake work out. Sometimes, well meaning Christians assume that they can continue to sin, because Jesus will just forgive them. Those who have this deadly mentality are confused. They are not really living for Jesus. Instead, they are living for the sin they love to commit and merely using Jesus’ grace as a means to get it. Jesus becomes the means to another end, not the end, himself. Jesus is trampled on while in hot pursuit of something else.
Seriously, so many of our problems, issues, and struggles would be solved if we kept Jesus as the goal of our life. Were I to keep Jesus in his rightful place on the throne of my life, then I would not have the opportunity to place myself on the throne and mess things up.
The second mistake is more subtle, but just as deadly. In this second mistake, we rightly put Jesus as the goal of our life and make him our purpose; however, we use some other means to get to him. For instance, we might use religious regulations or laws to get to him. “If I do _________________ (fill in the blank), then I’ll gain Jesus.” If I pray, then I will get Jesus. If I avoid this sin, then I will get Jesus. If I repent, then I will get Jesus. If I take communion, then I will get Jesus. If I read Scripture, then I will get Jesus. If I serve the poor, then I will get Jesus. Do you get the idea? Sure, you’ve made Jesus the goal of your life, but, you are attempting to earn your salvation. Jesus doesn’t want to be just the goal of your life, he wants to be the means, as well.
My friend Colin Smith gives a helpful illustration. He says it’s like telling a drowning man “If you swim to shore, I will send you a lifeboat.” Do you see the trouble? A drowning man cannot swim to shore. He does not need a lifeboat when he gets to the shore, he needs the lifeboat as he’s struggling in the water. In the same way, you do not need Jesus just at the end of your life, but in the middle, when you’re desperate and drowning. Jesus is our lifeboat. He is the one who saves us and then carries us to the shore. We cannot save ourselves by keeping religious rules. We cannot get to Jesus by our own moral/religious efforts. We will perish.
Do you see? Jesus must be both the goal of our life and the means of our life. He is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. Jesus is our life. Before trying to solve your problems, come to Jesus. Before trying to get rid of a bad habit, come to Jesus. Before trying to repent, come to Jesus. Then after you go to Jesus, keep going to him. Don’t run to pleasures, run to Jesus. Don’t run to more possessions, run to Jesus. Don’t run to power, run to Jesus. Don’t run to comfort, run to Jesus.
You will be utterly astounded at what Jesus can do with a person that entrusts herself to him. He will change you and you will forever, never be the same.
© Samuel Kee, 2012
I’m trying to keep the videos as short as possible, which means that I don’t always get to say all that I want to say. If I had more time, I would speak more personally about how each of us is trying to get a clean conscience. It’s a never ending battle, as we try to escape from the guilt we feel, from the stuff we’ve done wrong. This struggle to be free from guilt disguises itself in other ways in our life, too, in all of the ways we try to make ourselves “feel alive.” We long for life and freedom, thinking that these come from the latest pleasure rather than from our Lord’s passion. Anyhow, I hope you get a deeper sense for the true freedom that Jesus has given you because of the cross.
An old, blind priest requests that convicted murder named Leila be pardoned from her lifetime sentence. He tells the judge that Leila can live with him, in order to help him read and respond to the hundreds of letters he gets every month. Leila is pardoned and she goes to Father Jacob’s house in order to live with him and help him with his work.
There’s a stirring scene right at the beginning of this 2009 Finnish film (Letters to Father Jacob) where Father Jacob has invited Leila to sit at the table with him for a meal. First, he gives her tea, which she reluctantly accepts. Then, after cutting himself a piece of bread, he offers some bread to her. Only he doesn’t cut the bread for Leila; he hands her the knife.
I held my breath when he did this. After all, she was a murderer and he was blind. Releasing the knife from his hands, he slid it toward Leila. She picks it up and he is left to stare off into the darkness, wondering what she might do with it. The look in her face says it all, as she is given something that she’s not been given before: trust. Holding the large knife, she examines Father Jacob’s face, for she cannot believe what he just did. She waves the knife in front of his face to see if he’s really blind. He doesn’t flinch.
He displays courage as much as any that I have seen, having given a murderer the freedom to choose between doing good and doing evil. Leila cuts her bread and sits down in the presence of someone who could see more good in her than anyone ever had before.
Father Jacob chose to see a good person instead of an evil person. He chose to see someone that he could trust with a knife—with his life. She was used to others seeing the worst kind of person in her, but Father Jacob saw the best possible person. Though blind, he saw what others could not see.
When Jesus wanted to describe what he saw in his followers, he reached for a mustard seed (Matthew 13:31-32). Just so you can see what he saw, get a grain of sand and put it in the palm of your hand. A mustard seed is barely visible, like a grain of sand; it is something that most people overlook. If I were to compare my followers to a seed, I would probably choose an avocado or a peach, something with a huge seed. I would want my followers to be spiritual giants and people who have a lot going for them.
It’s like finding an old, dingy penny on the ground and saying to yourself, “With this penny, I’m going to be a billionaire.”
Jesus says that though the mustard seed is barely noticeable, it will grow into a great tree. The great tree, in turn, will become a place where many birds can make a nest. In Jesus’ time, “birds” represented all of the non-Jewish nations of the world. Jesus foresees a time when the little mustard seed will reach every nation of the world. His penny will turn into billions.
Like Father Jacob, Jesus sees something in us that no one can see. He sees seeds of greatness in us. He doesn’t just see a sinner, even though he can see that quite plainly, but he chooses to see someone who is capable of reaching billions. God doesn’t dwell on how small your faith is, but on what it can become.
Put yourself at the table with God. He gives you the knife and he gives you the bread. These are two very powerful symbols sitting right before your eyes; you can either end your relationship with God or begin it.
God wants to sit and break bread with you; may his faith in you stir yours in him.
© Samuel Kee, 2011