As I mentioned in One of Those Days, I tend to have quite a struggle with self-loathing. Well, God’s been dealing with me on that. And by ‘dealing with me’ I don’t mean He’s been viewing me the same way I view myself in those times, or is excessively rough, I mean He’s been disciplining me as a stern, but loving father disciplines his rambunctious 5-year-old son.
Well, I messed up again last night, as I often do. I just wasn’t acting very Christ-like, and my response to my sin was, well, more sin. Haha.
That’s when God reminded me yet again that He’s already forgiven me. It’s a phenominal thought that Christ’s love towards us is not based upon our performance. It astounds me to realize that Jesus knew every sin I would ever commit before He went to the Cross. He knew who I would become, what I would do, how many times I would betray Him, yet He still died for me. As I mentioned before, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8) always amazes me.
It amazes me how easy it is for us to forget just Who God is and what He’s done for us. So often we seperate the God of Creation from the God of Salvation. We seem to have this dichotomy which tells us that there’s one God that is powerful and distant, and threatening, and another that forgives us. But we forget, that Jesus is the same God that created the Heavens and the Earth. The God of Genesis 1 is the God of the Gospels. Think about the implications of that. The God Who created the billion-galaxy universe, the towering mountains, the majestic fields, the wonder of the human body, is the same God that loved you, that loved me, enough to take on human flesh and die on the Cross so that we could escape His wrath.
What God has been reminding me of lately is that if I continue to dwell in my self-hatred and claim with my actions that His sacrifice is not enough to remove my sin, than I am spitting in His face. If Christ’s sacrifice was enough to appease the wrath of a Holy God; who am I to claim that it is not enough to satisfy my own guilt? Maybe you’re like me in that you hold onto your failures and allow guilt to have a place in your heart, I’d just encourage you to repent of that. Ask God to forgive you of your guilt. That sounds strange, I’m sure, but so often it is what needs to be done. As 1 John mentions, guilt is not God’s doing. Conviction of sin is the work of the Holy Spirit, but when we hold onto it even after being forgiven, we are just listening to the lies of the enemy and doubting Christ’s sacrifice. Just surrender it. Trust that what Jesus did on the Cross is good enough to satisfy His Father’s wrath as well as your own guilt.
It is so easy to forget that forgiveness has to do with freedom. As Paul says, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” (Gal. 5:1), Christ freed us from sin so that we can live freely. When we allow guilt to take hold of our hearts, we take on the “yoke of slavery.” When we live in slavery we deny the Cross its full potential in our lives.
I personally have a tendency to view forgiveness as this dark thing, like where God looks at me groveling on the ground and says: “Well, alright, I guess I’ll overlook what you did this time, but I’m not happy about it.” But that is not what it looks like at all. Forgiveness is a beautiful thing and God does not give it grudgingly. The only ones begrudging it are ourselves. God does not tolerate our sin, He doesn’t just overlook it, He kills it. He hates sin and loves us so much that He died on the Cross to destroy His enemy and to save His people. At that moment He destroyed sin completely. He understood every sin we would ever commit and He still chose to go to the Cross. We are forgiven so that we can forgive. Of course that includes forgiving others, but that also applies to ourselves. The Gospel is a beautiful thing.