It is likely that a day does not pass when we do not think, say or do something that we wish we had not indulged in. We are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God. The question then is – what do we do about it?
I believe that we have some options:
#1 We can dwell on our mistakes, take on guilt and wallow in self-pity. But, we need to always remember that we have an enemy in this world that will take every possible opportunity to point out to us our short-comings and failures. He will tell us how pathetic we are to make us feel ashamed and guilty. He wants us to feel like failures and that God no longer cares for us or wants us. But never forget – that enemy is Satan and Satan is a liar! “Jesus told them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but he sent me. Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.’” (John 8:42-44 NLT)
God does not expect us to hang onto those negative feelings and guilt – we have an easy way out – it is as simple as telling God we are sorry and asking for His forgiveness. One of the best examples of how quickly God will forgive us can be found in the story of the prodigal son in Luke. (Luke 15:11-32.) The younger son took his inheritance and squandered it, living a life of greed and sin. He then realizes the wrongs he has done and decides to return to his father and work as a hired hand. “So he got up and started back to his father. He was still a long way from home when his father saw him; his heart was filled with pity, and he ran, threw his arms around his son, and kissed him. ‘Father,’ the son said, ‘I have sinned against God and against you. I am no longer fit to be called your son.’ But the father called to his servants. ‘Hurry!’ he said. ‘Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet. Then go and get the prize calf and kill it, and let us celebrate with a feast! For this son of mine was dead, but now he is alive; he was lost, but now he has been found.’ And so the feasting began.” (Luke 15:20-24 GNT) Our heavenly Father loves us so very much that he will not focus on our wrongdoings once we realize what we have done and are repentant – He will drop everything and greet us with open arms, loving us and forgiving us just as the father in this story did for his son.
#2 We can pretend it never happened and move on with the high likelihood it will pop up at some point to bite us – maybe a little, maybe a lot. Trying to ignore what we have done does not work. There are always consequences. At the most inopportune times things will pop up on our radar as a glaring reminder. At that point, Satan is again hanging around ready to step in again, laying guilt on us, making us feel unworthy. The solution is the same – confess and ask forgiveness. God is quick to forgive – remember that father in the story discussed above. “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” (1 John 1:9 NLT) “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”(James 4:10 GNT)
#3 We can face it head-on, confessing it to God. We then need to accept His forgiveness and also forgive ourselves, moving forward. Confessing our sins is the most logical thing to do once we realize what we have done. We do not always recognize our failure the moment we do it – but once that recognition hits us we should not hang onto it. Do not procrastinate – we need to take action and put it behind us. Procrastination only gives Satan a chance to move in and do his due diligence to press us down. There are all kinds of reasons for procrastination – fear, anxiety, even laziness – but those are poor excuses for doing what is right and themselves create more sin in our lives. “So then, if we do not do the good we know we should do, we are guilty of sin.” (James 4:17 GNT) Why would we want to pile more sin on top of other sin?
You will note that I also stressed that we need to forgive ourselves. I believe that if we hold onto the guilt even when God has forgiven us, that we are living under a dark cloud that just is not necessary. I like the way The Message translation puts it in Romans 8:1-2: “With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.”
The bottom line is that we need to put our sins in our rear view mirror – move away from them by very simply asking for forgiveness, accepting that forgiveness and living our lives.
Written by Karran Martin – May 25, 2020