Christmas time magnifies everything, both the warm, fuzzy ones as well as the negative ones. Suicides between Thanksgiving and New Years are more than in the rest of the 11 months of the year combined. This series is to help people experience forgiveness and have a truly white Christmas.
“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool. If you will only obey me, you will have plenty to eat. – Isaiah 1:18-19 NLT
Previously, we reviewed the myths of what forgiveness is. We also talked about how much God has forgiven us and we must always remember to forgive as generously. Last week, Connor talked about viewing others through the lens of Jesus so that we can understand how to be willing to forgive.
Twisted Ways We Deal with Our Past
- We believe that time will remove our mistakes. Time doesn’t heal wounds. We know it’s the Holy Spirit that heals and helps us deal with them appropriately.
People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy. – Proverbs 28:13 NLT
We all need a community of others where we feel safe enough to share our past without the fear of feeling judged.
- We beat ourselves up over our past. We feel that we owe it to carry a heavy burden because of our choices, but it’s not true. King David tried this as well and here’s what it made him feel like.
My guilt overwhelms me–it is a burden too heavy to bear. My wounds fester and stink because of my foolish sins. I am bent over and racked with pain. All day long I walk around filled with grief. A raging fever burns within me, and my health is broken. I am exhausted and completely crushed. My groans come from an anguished heart. – Psalm 38:4-8 NLT
When we beat ourselves up over our past mistakes it can actually affect our physical bodies.
- Blaming others. We try to move the responsibility of the choice made of to other people instead of owning it ourselves. The first man and woman on this earth pulled this same thing when God talked to them about the forbidden fruit they’d eaten.
The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” Then the LORD God asked the woman, “What have you done?” “The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.” – Genesis 3:12-13 NLT
How do we get past our past?
How do we genuinely give ourselves permission to forgive ourselves and find healing?
Apostle Paul would have the right than anyone to beat himself up over the choices he’d made to kill Christians. Here’s what he thought on the subject.
Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst. – 1 Timothy 1:13-15 NIV
If we want to truly find freedom this morning, we need to stop trying to earn our forgiveness. This is easier said than done, because everything in the world teaches us to do the opposite. To have good friends, be a good friend, for example. To have a good marriage, or to have a good career, we have to earn it and work for it. It’s even more deeply engrained in our American ideal. Because it’s so deep in our culture, it’s even permeated into our Christmas tradition. Think about Santa and all the ideas of being good to get gifts from him.
Because we so used to operating this way, we transfer this idea to the forgiveness of Jesus. But that is the opposite of what the Bible teaches us about the grace of God through the sacrifice of Jesus.
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. – 1 Peter 3:18 NIV
He died once, not over and over. God took on flesh and was born in a manger for this reason: so we could be brought back to God. He was put to death in the body, but He was made alive by the Spirit. When He died on the cross, he paid the price for our sins: past, present, and future. If you struggle with this temptation to try to earn the right to forgiveness, you don’t have a sin problem; you have an unbelief problem. If you believe on the name of Jesus, you will be saved. Do you believe what He is, what He’s done. Do you believe there’s a God who sent His son for your sins?
The next time your reluctant to worship because of your week or your choices, remember that it has nothing to do with you. It’s about Him, that’s why we’re acceptable to Him. You need to allow God to turn it around for His good. That’s not to say that bad things in our lives happened because of God, but it does mean that any situation in our lives can be redeemed by God.
What is that sin or situation in your past that you can’t seem to forgive yourself for? Pray for the belief to accept God’s forgiveness and accept that it comes freely and fully.