AURORA, IN—While she understands the entirety of her forgiveness in God’s eyes granted by the shed blood of Jesus Christ which absolves her of any and all guilt now and forevermore while simultaneously imputing her with the very righteousness of God the Son, local believer Kim Calhoun, due to her incredibly developed sense of morality which eclipses even God’s, revealed to sources Friday that she cannot forgive herself for her past transgressions.
“I know God forgives me. I know. But I just can’t forgive myself”
So mocks the satirical website The Babylon Bee in a June 10, 2016 post.
The teaching of forgiving oneself seems to garner scorn and outright rejection by some, leaving those wrestling with guilt and self-blame to deal with it all alone, or to be elevated to such a priority that forgiveness extended by God and neighbor cannot be received until forgiveness of self is accomplished. Books abound with instruction about how to go about forgiving yourself and how to deal with a stubborn self that refuses to forgive.
Forgiveness is a grace basic to the gospel. But what exactly is it and how is it practiced? How well do Christians understand it, especially when self-help teachings have their versions with the same label?
In corporate worship, we might hear the pastor give an assurance of pardon: “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). That’s encouraging news but upon closer examination, it raises questions. Why is God’s justice mentioned instead of His mercy? Who are the “we” who are extended this offer? From “all” unrighteousness! – just how far-reaching is this confession? Come to think of it, what does it mean to confess? Plus, aren’t Christians already forgiven?
Clearly, there is much about forgiveness we need to understand. And God lays it out for us in His Word. Jesus commands it, explains it and illustrates it.
Our understanding is not for idle curiosity. Forgiveness of sin comes to us as the beating heart of the gospel, and it radically affects our peace of mind and our interactions with others. God instructs us to forgive as we have been forgiven. Understanding how we have been forgiven by God is the prerequisite to the course on how we are to forgive others. Without those bearings our forgiveness of those who wrong us will be a pink pastel of the vibrant red God wants of us, and maybe a wrong color altogether.
The Beverly Hillbillies was an old time television show that featured a backwoods family being transplanted to Beverly Hills. Their fancy eating table for vittles was a pool table, complete with cup holders. Food was passed using the handy long sticks. When it comes to forgiveness, we Christians might not be that clueless but there is a lot we need to learn having been transplanted into the kingdom of God.
These concepts and others are covered in Finding Forgiveness: Discovering the Healing Power of the Gospel.