How Can I Forgive Myself?

H.B. Charles: The most faithful response to this question is to reject it as an illegitimate question. The biblical teaching about forgiveness can be summarized in two main ideas: God forgives sinners freely, completely, and sacrificially. Ultimately, divine forgiveness is paid for by the cross of Christ. Christians must forgive those who wrong us, as God has forgiven us for the sake of Christ. That’s it. Sermon over. There is not third point. God has forgiven us and we must forgive others. Period. There are more than 125 direct references to forgiveness in the Bible. But the Bible does not teach that we should forgive ourselves. It does not explain how to forgive ourselves. It does not say anything about forgiving ourselves whatsoever. God is just, holy, and righteous. We are not. We are sinners who cannot do anything to win the approval of God. We cannot reach up to God. But God has reach down to us through the

read more How Can I Forgive Myself?

My Sin, Not in Part, But the Whole

. “My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought.” Caleb Brasher: This is a strange phrase. Has it ever caught your attention before? In the third stanza of “It is Well,” the hymn writer leads with this curious arrangement of words. It always struck me as odd. How can I consider my sin blissful? Eventually, I learned to look at things in their proper context. I had never connected those lines with the lines that followed: “My sin, not in part, but the whole, is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more. Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!” We find this bliss by doing two things: by being honest with ourselves and seeing the depth of our depravity in our sin, and by looking to the cross and seeing the depth of God’s mercy in Christ. Seeing Our Sin Clearly As long as we aren’t that bad of sinners, we won’t need that

read more My Sin, Not in Part, But the Whole

Three lies about forgiveness

J.D. Greear: A few years ago I read a fascinating book called The Bishop of Rwanda, by John Rucyahana. He talked about the horrible genocides in Rwanda, and the aftermath of the civil wars there. He said that the genocides were, obviously, horrendous, but it was the lingering bitterness and hatred afterwards that was the most difficult. Most people couldn’t even consider the idea of forgiveness. Rucyahana pointed out that the obstacles to forgiveness really came from lies people believed about forgiveness. These three lies are as applicable in big cases (like his) as they are in our more everyday cases of forgiveness. Lie #1: You must wait until the person shows they’ve repented. Well, to put it bluntly, Jesus didn’t. He forgave his enemies on the cross, at the very moment they were killing him. Forgiveness isn’t the same as reconciliation. With reconciliation, you need both sides to come to the table. But forgiveness is first about releasing you from

read more Three lies about forgiveness

When a Christian Sins

  Jason Helopoulos: Every Christian sins. Every child of light stumbles into momentary darkness. Every prince or princess acts like a rebel at times. As Christians in this world, we are sinners and saints. Redeemed, yet still needing to repent. Forgiven, yet still needing to forsake. Confessing Christ, yet still needing to confess sin. This reality of our lives is not easy. In fact, few moments in life pain or discourage the Christian more than the instant we become conscious of having committed yet another sin against our heavenly Father. Surely, it grieves us. And at times, it can lead to anxiety, guilt, melancholy, embarrassment, and even depression for many Christians. In the midst of such struggle, the Christian does well to remind themselves of the gospel comforts of Scripture. There is peace to be had and love to enjoy. Our Heavenly Father ever extends His grace to us. The Christian also does well to take to heart gospel encouragements.

read more When a Christian Sins

Seven ways we can guard and repair relationships

  Ray Ortlund: 1.  Let’s rejoice in one another, because the Lord rejoices in us. Psalm 16:3 sets the overall tone: “As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.”  There is excellence to admire in every Christian.  And it’s easy to discern.  Two questions into a conversation and the excellence starts appearing. 2.  Let’s create an environment of trust rather than negative scrutiny. 1 Corinthians 4:5 says, “Do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart.”  Human eyes are not competent to judge human hearts. 3.  Let’s judge ourselves, even as we give each other the benefit of the doubt. Matthew 7:5 says, “First take the log out of your own eye.”  And 1 Corinthians 13:7 says, “Love believes all things.”  In other words, love fills in the blanks

read more Seven ways we can guard and repair relationships

Gone, totally and forever!

When God pardons, he does not say he understands our weakness or makes allowances for our errors; rather he disposes of, he finishes with, the whole of our dead life and raises us up with a new one. He does not so much deal with our derelictions as he does drop them down the black hole of Jesus’ death. He forgets our sins in the darkness of the tomb. He remembers our iniquities no more in the oblivion of Jesus’ expiration. He finds us, in short, in the desert of death, not in the garden of improvement; and in the power of Jesus’ resurrection, he puts us on his shoulders rejoicing and brings us home. –Robert Farrar Capon, Kingdom, Grace, Judgment: Paradox, Outrage, and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus (Eerdmans, 2002), 188 (HT: Dane Ortlund)

Forgiveness must go before sanctification

“A sense of having our sins forgiven is the mainspring and life-blood of love to Christ. . . . Would the Pharisee know why this woman showed so much love?  It was because she felt much forgiven.  Would he know why he himself had shown his guest so little love?  It was because he felt under no obligation, had no consciousness of having obtained forgiveness, had no sense of debt to Christ. . . . The only way to make men holy is to teach and preach free and full forgiveness through Jesus Christ.  The secret of being holy ourselves is to know and feel that Christ has pardoned our sins.  Peace with God is the only root that will bear the fruit of holiness.  Forgiveness must go before sanctification.” J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, on Luke 7:36-50. (HT: Ray Ortlund)

Conscience quieted by a completed work

Francis Schaeffer: If we have sinned, it is wonderful consciously to say, ‘Thank you for a completed work,’ after we have brought that specific sin under the finished work of Christ. The conscious giving of thanks brings assurance and peace. We say, ‘Thank you’ for work completed upon the cross, which is sufficient for a completely restored relationship. This isn’t on the basis of my emotions, any more than in my justification. The basis is the finished work of Christ in history and the objective promises of God in the written Word. If I believe Him, and if I believe what He has taught me about the sufficiency of the work of Christ for restoration, I can have assurance, no matter how black the blot has been. This is the Christian reality of salvation from one’s conscience. For myself, through the thirty years or so since I began to struggle with this in my own life, I picture my conscience

read more Conscience quieted by a completed work

“Kiss my…”

Wisdom for a tender conscience from Martin Luther: “It is the supreme art of the devil that he can make the law out of the gospel.  If I can hold on to the distinction between law and gospel, I can say to him any and every time that he should kiss my backside.  Even if I sinned I would say, ‘Should I deny the gospeI on this account?’ . . . Once I debate about what I have done and left undone, I am finished.  But if I reply on the basis of the gospel, ‘The forgiveness of sins covers it all,’ I have won.” Martin Luther, quoted in Reinhard Slenczka, “Luther’s Care of Souls for Our Times,”Concordia Theological Quarterly 67 (2003): 42. (HT: Ray Ortlund)

Beware the Peril that Lurks in Success

By John Bloom: It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. (2 Samuel 11:2) We are never more vulnerable to sin than when we are successful, admired by others, and prosperous, as King David tragically discovered. Imagine him reflecting on his adultery a year later. It was spring again. David once had loved warm, fragrant spring afternoons on the palace roof. But this year the scent of almond blossoms smelled like deep regret. David had no desire to look toward Uriah’s empty house. If only he had not looked that way a year ago. The memory throbbed with pain. His conscience had warned him to stop watching Bathsheba. But in his desire-induced inertia it had felt like he couldn’t pull himself away. What pathetic self-deception! Couldn’t pull himself away. He would never have tolerated

read more Beware the Peril that Lurks in Success

Seven ways we can guard and repair relationships

Excellent from Ray Ortlund: 1.  We can rejoice in one another, because the Lord rejoices in us. Psalm 16:3 sets the tone: “As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.”  There is excellence to admire in every Christian. 2.  We can create an environment of trust rather than negative scrutiny. 1 Corinthians 4:5 says, “Do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart.”  Human eyes are not competent to judge human hearts. 3.  We can judge ourselves, even as we give each other the benefit of the doubt. Matthew 7:5 says, “First take the log out of your own eye.” 4.  If a problem must be addressed, we can talk to, not about.  Gossip destroys. Matthew 18:15 says, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.”  James

read more Seven ways we can guard and repair relationships

Streams of grace

“How many millions of sins in every one of the elect, every one of which is enough to condemn them all, hath this love overcome! What mountains of unbelief doth it remove! Look upon the conduct of any one saint, consider the frame of his heart, see the many stains and spots, the defilements and infirmities with which his life is contaminated, and tell me whether the love that bears with all this is not to be admired. And is not the same towards thousands every day? What streams of grace, purging, pardoning, quickening, assisting, do flow from it every day! This is our Beloved.” John Owen, Works (Edinburgh, 1980), 2:63. (HT: Ray Ortlund)

Is there a ‘Problem of Forgiveness’? Dissonant voices

Four voices.  Only one of them resembles the tone and accent of the Master. Faustus Socinus (1578) As we saw elsewhere Paul likewise instructs us to be imitators of God: just as he forgave our sins through Christ, we should forgive each other, but if God so forgave our sins through Christ, that he yet demanded the punishment of them from Christ itself, what prevents us from seeking satisfaction for ourselves for the offenses of our neighbours? Brian McLaren (2006) The traditional understanding says that God asks of us something that God is incapable of Himself. God asks us to forgive people. But God is incapable of forgiving. God can’t forgive unless He punishes somebody in place of the person He was going to forgive. God doesn’t say things to you—Forgive your wife, and then go kick the dog to vent your anger. God asks you to actually forgive. And there’s a certain sense that, a common understanding of the

read more Is there a ‘Problem of Forgiveness’? Dissonant voices

Finding Forgiveness?

I’m re-posting this powerful scene from ER which shows the futility of postmodern/liberal theology: This is a great clip from an old episode of “ER.” It shows the impotency of postmodern/liberal gobbledygook theology. Best line: “I want a real chaplain who believes in a real God and a real hell!… I need answers! And all your questions and uncertainty are making things worse!” (HT: Denny Burk)

Remember The Duck

From Tullian Tchividjian: This story told by my friend and former professor, Steve Brown, illustrates well the radical discrepancy between the ways in which we hold other people hostage in their sin and the unconditional forgiveness that God offers to us in Christ. Do you remember the story about the little boy who killed his grandmother’s pet duck? He accidentally hit the duck with a rock from his slingshot. The boy didn’t think anybody saw the foul deed, so he buried the duck in the backyard and didn’t tell a soul. Later, the boy found out that his sister had seen it all. Not only that, she now had the leverage of his secret and used it. Whenever it was the sister’s turn to wash the dishes, take out the garbage or wash the car, she would whisper in his ear, “Remember the duck.” And then the little boy would do what his sister should have done. There is always

read more Remember The Duck

Quit Asking for Forgiveness

Love it, love it, love it! My thanks to Dane Ortlund for this: “One way I reinforce my inveterate functional Pelagianism is by allowing remembrance of a past sin to bring me back into despondency and a renewed plea for forgiveness every time it comes to mind. The trouble is that (normally) I’ve asked the Lord to forgive me in the wake of the sin, yet when it comes to mind again I find myself crumpling internally into yet another anguished prayer for forgiveness. The enemy loves it. He sees I’m not letting a decisive placing of that sin under the blood of Christ settle the issue once and for all. Somehow I allow myself to feel that the more often I ask for forgiveness, and the greater the anguish, the more effectual the blood of Christ on my behalf. Which is itself works-righteousness. It’s a denial that the blood of Christ is enough. It’s thinking: I need to help

read more Quit Asking for Forgiveness

When grace appears…

“Only when we turn away from looking at our sin to look at the face of God, to find his pardoning grace, do we begin to repent. Only by seeing that there is grace and forgiveness with him would we ever dare to repent and thus return to the fellowship and presence of the Father. . . . Only when grace appears on the horizon offering forgiveness will the sunshine of the love of God melt our hearts and draw us back to him.” – Sinclair Furguson, quoted by Tim Chester in You Can Change (Wheaton, Ill.; Crossway, 2010), 49. (HT: Of First Importance)

The only forgiveness that matters

“There may be some foul spot in our lives; the kind of thing that the world never forgives, the kind of thing, at any rate, for which we who know all can never forgive ourselves. But what care we whether the world forgives, or even whether we can forgive ourselves, if God forgives, if God has received us by the death of His Son? If we could appeal to God’s approval as ours by right, how bravely we should boast—boast in the presence of a world of enemies! If God knows that we are right, what care we for the blame of men? Such boasting, indeed, can never be ours. But we can boast in what God has done. Little care we whether our sin be thought unpardonable or no, little interested are we in the exact calculation of our guilt. Heap it up mountain high, yet God has removed it all. ‘I know not,’ the Christian says, ‘what my

read more The only forgiveness that matters