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