Jesus on the cross

Will God real­ly for­give me?”

All of us have things in our lives we wish we’d nev­er said or done. At one time or anoth­er we all encounter feel­ings of self-loathing which arise from our own inabil­i­ty to think and act as we know we should. Some­times these are shame­ful acts-things we’d like to erase by turn­ing back the clock. But we can’t! So we car­ry the guilt and shame inside. No one is exempt from such feel­ings of guilt and regret.

But you may be think­ing to your­self, You don’t know the hor­ri­ble things I’ve done. I live every day with the haunt­ing mem­o­ries of things I’ve done. I am shamed by those mem­o­ries and I can’t see how God could change that. My pun­ish­ment is to suf­fer every day with regret. There’s real­ly no way out of this.”

The fact is, the Bible gives us a pret­ty exten­sive list of peo­ple who received God’s for­give­ness for some pret­ty ter­ri­ble mis­deeds. King David’s sto­ry in the book of 2 Samuel, chap­ters eleven and twelve, involves adul­tery and mur­der. Psalm 50 shows us his prayer of repen­tance. God ful­ly for­gave him and enabled him to be Israel’s great­est king. In Psalm 130 David sings of the for­give­ness he has found in God. The New Tes­ta­ment record pro­vides us with an exten­sive list of peo­ple who have their sor­did pasts dealt with by the for­give­ness of Christ. Among them are: the unnamed lady caught in the act of adul­tery; Levi, a tax col­lec­tor,” com­mon­ly known in the day as an extor­tion­ist; Zac­cha­eas-the same; Peter, a Christ-denier and blas­phe­mer; Paul, a ter­ror­ist. All of these were for­giv­en by Christ and freed from the oppres­sion of their guilt.

You see, the good news” mes­sage of the Bible is that the pun­ish­ment for our short­com­ings, our mis­deeds-the evil of our own hearts-was borne by Jesus Christ. There is an assur­ing word giv­en us in the Old Tes­ta­ment book of Isa­iah. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniq­ui­ty of us all” (Isa­iah, chap­ter 53, verse 6). Ear­li­er in that same book there is a clear state­ment about the issue of for­give­ness. Expressed in poet­ic lan­guage, these are the words of God Him­self: Come now, let us rea­son togeth­er,” says the Lord. Though your sins are like scar­let, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crim­son, they shall be like wool.” (Isa­iah 1:18) Our respon­si­bil­i­ty is to sim­ply con­fess our sins to him and he will for­give. He promis­es to for­give you no mat­ter what. And he’ll give you a new heart‑a heart of love to trust Him.

This real­ly points to the very rea­son of Christ’s com­ing to earth. Every­one of us has been caught in the impos­si­ble dilem­ma of rec­og­niz­ing the guilt in our own lives yet not being able to do any­thing about it. Christ has come to take the penal­ty of our sins and to set us free. That’s called grace-the unmer­it­ed favour of God. The apos­tle, Paul, in his let­ter to the peo­ple in first cen­tu­ry Eph­esus, states the truth with great clar­i­ty: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from your­selves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph­esians 5: 89)

All you need to do to be for­giv­en is to con­fess your sins to God. If we con­fess our sins, he is faith­ful and just and will for­give us our sins and puri­fy us from all unright­eous­ness.” (1 John 1: 9) As you face the real­i­ty of your own guilt for past wrongs, dwell, not on the great­ness of your sins, but on the great­ness of Christ’s pow­er to for­give! We can­not save our­selves, but He can. We can­not give our­selves hope, but He can. Though we are trou­bled by feel­ings of guilt, He gives us the assur­ance that in Him alone-the Prince of Peace-we will expe­ri­ence true and endur­ing peace.

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