You already know that lack of faith is a sin and a problem for those of us who have our afflictions. You know that you will be shown steps that you have missed, places where you have frankly failed. That is ok. That is how we learn.
However, when we are confronted by these revelations, the temptation for us is to dwell on our shortcomings, to feel silly and faithless and self pitying. We feel that we need to “suffer” for our missteps, so we lick our wounds while repeating “I am such a bad person, what would God want with me? I always mess it up. I will never get it right…”. Going back to our trip to Yellowstone, this would be as if we stood at the front gate and said “Oh, I am such a bad hiker. Remember last year when I threw that gum wrapper on the ground? I don’t deserve to see Yellowstone….” Let me tell you right now to STOP!!! God has these wonderful promises for you! He knows about that gum wrapper (and that worry, and that foul language you spouted when you dropped the hammer on your toe…), and He still wants you.
Think about this with me for one minute—God called you, right? You cannot love God without Him loving you first “We love because He first loved us” 1 John 4:19 NAS. You do realize that He already knew every sin you were going to commit before you were ever born, right? And He still called you to His side, right? So let it go. When God convicts us of something, He just wants us to not do it again. He does not want us to punish ourselves—Jesus was punished enough for you already. All God wants is for us to make a course adjustment, not to fly the plane into the ground.
Let me say this again: The Lord knows your sins. He still loves you. He still accepted you from the beginning. Understand that. HE KNEW YOUR EVERY SIN AND STILL CALLED YOU TO HIM. Now, of course this does not mean we can say “Oh then I can do anything I want to because God knew I would and forgives me. Party on!”. He is not going to let us go, but it is possible for us to jump out of His hand. We cannot be cavalier and careless with the saving grace of the sacrifice of His only Son.
However, we do have grace to help us. Hebrews 10:14 assures us that He has made us perfect forever. We still stumble, but we are perfect in the blood of Jesus.
Now, sometimes we feel that we must still punish ourselves or that we cannot (will not) forgive ourselves…we just don’t let it go. Honestly, this is one of the biggest obstacles to faith and it has the same basis in pride as denying our sin.
When we acknowledge a sin, repent of it, but then do not accept the forgiveness of the Lord, we are saying to the Lord “Your sacrifice of Your Son was not enough for my sins.”. Oh let us NEVER say that! We might not think that is what we are saying, but it is. That is what many of us do. We might forgive others. We might let others forgive us. But we will not forgive ourselves, choosing instead to wallow in self pity or self loathing, perhaps listening to voices from our past who had condemned us.
Dear one, let me tell you that that is a trick and a tool of the enemy and must be stopped right now. If the LORD says we are forgiven then we are at that very moment. If we do not allow that forgiveness, if we hold grudges against ourselves, not in holy repentance of “I will not do this again” but rather the sinful pride of “I am too powerful (bad) in my sin to be forgiven by the blood of Christ”, then we are denying the power of the Lord. We are assuming that He is incapable of making us clean, that even if HE says that we are forgiven, that is not enough for us…that we outrank Him somehow. We are saying “That it is all fine and dandy if He would like to forgive us, but I know how bad I am…I just do not accept it.”. He forgives us, but we are not so quick to do so. Do not allow this. It is not pious; it is prideful. It is not humble; it is haughty. It robs our joy, steals praise from the Lord, for who will praise the Lord more than a sinner who has been pardoned and unburdened from his guilt?
Let’s think about that. You have a sin of fear, of cowardice, of self preservation. You say “I am so bad. I am so awful. I messed up again. I cannot be forgiven.”. Ok now look at those sentences…at any point do they mention the Lord? Or are they just sentence after sentence of staring at our belly buttons, wallowing in our selves?
Now, whether you are not accepting forgiveness from the Lord because of self pity OR self loathing, let me say this one more time: the Lord knew the sins you were going to commit and yet He still called you to Him. Now, you can choose to leave Him, but that is your choice, not His desire. So accept His rebuke as from a loving Father to His child, holy and dearly loved. You are dearly loved as a son and He, as a loving Father, must correct every child of His for our good. We must be taught of our wrongdoing so that we can grow correctly and in righteousness. Otherwise we will succumb to the enemy, and the Lord does not want that, and neither do we.
Hebrews 12:5 and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM;
12:6 FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.”
12:7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
12:8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
12:9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?
12:10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.
12:11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness
12:12 Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble,
12:13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. NAS
Now, notice that the Lord decides what punishment, if any, that we receive. We are not to punish ourselves. Part of having OCD, etc is the idea that we have to punish ourselves, have to dwell on every little mistake. But all we are to do is to understand the Lord’s rebukes are for our good and are in love for us. We accept them, repent, accept forgiveness and move on. Don’t try to do God’s job. Just accept that you are forgiven as soon as you repent.
So when you are convicted, simply say “God, I am sorry for not following Your Word. Please forgive me. I am going to change my way, please help me. Thank You for Your Son’s sacrifice for me.” And then move on with the Holy Spirit feeding your spirit the pure rich milk of the Word.
So accept His full forgiveness…the Lord Jesus’ blood covers over your sins. Accept it, be humble and grateful for it. When we accept that we are forgiven then we are more likely to want to go praise the Lord in our hearts, words and deeds. We stop staring at ourselves and eagerly search for ways to show the love that the Lord gave us. That is praise to Him.