“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
“How can I love you today?” I asked the Lord one day as I drove to church, enjoying how traffic-less the highway was compared with the incredible traffic the road was renowned for on weekdays.
His shocking response was plain, clear, simple, and directive: “I want you to stop feeling guilty about the things you’ve done in the past I’ve already forgiven,” His Spirit spoke to me.
Why was His response to my question shocking? It was the last thing I would have expected in the way of an answer, for starters. Furthermore, I had never considered that God feels LOVED when we repent and seek and receive His forgiveness. How precious. How priceless. How lovely. Beautiful. Intimate even. How close He wants us to be to Him. How He wants to give us His forgiveness. His mercy. His compassion. His immeasurable love. How He wants us near to Him, and Him to us. How He wants fellowship between us. Communion. Closeness. Ever more so.
Why did He tell me this? Because I struggle, and perhaps you can relate, with really comprehending, with really understanding, with really accepting, that He really has forgiven me when I repent. So sometimes I rehash, and rehash, and chew on, and regurgitate, and chew on again, and ruminate on, just like a cow, what I have done wrong. But God’s Word is so abundantly clear that Jesus Christ died on the cross to take God’s wrath at us and punishment for our sins on Himself so all who believe in Him as Lord, demonstrating that life in a lifestyle of devotedness and obedience to Christ, receive God’s forgiveness and eternal life. As strange as this may sound, some of us, myself included, may have an easier time grasping the gift of eternal life than grasping the fact God REALLY forgives us because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross when we repent. What’s our job? To REPENT and BELIEVE and RECEIVE God’s forgiveness and to live in the freedom of it with our hearts and lives dedicated to and focused on and committed to Christ!
So what about the guilt? What about God telling me that day to stop feeling guilty about what He’s already forgiven me for? Do you think it pleases God to watch His children tormented, and torture themselves, and wallow in, guilt and shame and remorse, and to listen to the devil throw accusations at us, and to stay in bondage to sin when He has so graciously and mercifully set us free? Of course not! How is refusing to walk in the fullness of God’s love and mercy and compassion and kindness and forgiveness an act of love toward Him? It’s not! It’s like throwing His love and mercy back in His face, or at the very least withholding it at a distance from ourselves!
What a beautiful reminder God gave me that day, in what seemed to be a shocking message, but really shouldn’t have seemed shocking at all when we consider the unfathomable love of the Lord! If you, like me, have done some wallowing in guilt and shame when you’ve already repented and are striving to love and obey God, come out of the pigpen and leave the muck and mire of the sin and yuck and ick of it behind that you may be fully available to love and worship and serve and enjoy the Lord and to love others with His most glorious love!