For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. (John 1:16)
We’ve talked a lot about GRACE over the past few days –
- the grace of Christ toward us
- the grace that Christ has called us to extend to others
Today I want to talk about one of the most often neglected aspects of grace – the grace we extend to ourselves.
Have you ever talked to someone about God’s grace only to hear “but you don’t know what I’ve done”. Or, “if God has forgiven me, why do I still feel guilty?” I’ve felt this way myself and I’m pretty sure that at some point in your life you have too. Here’s the good news! God’s word teaches us that if we have repented of our sin, it is removed from us as far as the east is from the west, it is buried beneath the floor of the ocean. God remembers it no more. So, if God has forgotten why don’t we? Why do we insist on clinging to our guilt as if it were some sort of security blanket? Why are we so sure that grace is for other people but not us? There could be a lot of reasons we think this way; here are three that I’ve dealt with in my own life – maybe they are stumbling blocks for your as well.
Un-confessed sin. Are you holding on to unforgiveness, anger, or other wrong thoughts? Is there some past sin you’ve closed the door on because you don’t want to face it? God longs to forgive you, He wants us to be free from all our sins.If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
Bitterness from past hurts. Is there an issue you have failed to deal with because it was just too painful? Get rid of it! That means forgiveness, of others and of ourselves. Holding on to past bitterness and pain only gives ammunition to the enemy and keeps us from the peace that we’re desperate for.Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; (Hebrews 12:14-15)
Shame, fear, denial. Faith is not about feelings, it’s about faith. Feelings deceive us. They distort truth. Feelings of shame, fear, denial, or condemnation over some past sin for which you’ve already repented, are lies! As the preacher likes to say, “they smell of smoke”.For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. (2 Corinthians 7:10)
It should come as no surprise that our old enemy Satan is working overtime to keep us mired down in our sin. The longer he can keep us from God’s presence, the deeper he can take us into a sense of despair. He convinces us that we are unworthy. The more unworthy we feel, the farther we move away from our Father. We get out of fellowship with God and our sense of guilt grows stronger. It is a vicious cycle. Do you remember how we defined GRACE in our first article? We said that grace is the unmerited favor of God. Here are some further definitions.
- not deserved
- mitigation of punishment
These words and their meanings are important to remember. Above all however, note that the source of this unmerited favor is GOD. The writer of Hebrews sums it up for us perfectly:
And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for hewho promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:15-23)
Aren’t you glad that our LORD has made a way for us to come into His presence? Aren’t you glad that no matter what your past looks like you can enjoy the unmerited favor of God? Aren’t you glad there is GRACE for even you?