So far, I’ve talked about forgiving other people and asking people to forgive us. Though challenging, it’s not the only area of forgiveness. I needed to ask God the Father to forgive my transgressions and sins.
Here is what the Bible says in John 3:16-17.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”
When I accepted the free gift of salvation, my sins were forgiven and I became free to have a personal relationship with God the Father through Jesus. Am I free to act like a jerk later? No, I am not. Here’s what John says in 1 John 1:9 –
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
What about my feelings of shame and condemnation? Though I did forgive my tormentors, I still experienced strong feelings of shame. I can still recall the sense that it was acceptable and bore a feeling of helplessness. I could easily hear someone say, “You did something to deserve this treatment.”
I was the perfect candidate for the “Blame Game.” Sadly, I actually did run into a group who practiced blaming the victim. It seems that they had a strange view of the heart of God the Father. Thankfully, God delivered me from such a group.
How did I break free from such a terrible yoke? Yes, I forgave my tormentors and that’s a good starting point. However, I needed an extra step. I had to forgive myself. In case you missed it, I was blaming myself for the troubles I experienced that terrible summer. I was walking around with a strong sense of condemnation and an undeserved guilt.
I had to stop beating the crap out of myself. I believed a bunch of lies and I needed to stop. Jesus came to set the prisoners free and I was such a prisoner. He came to break off the shackles of shame and condemnation created by those who tormented me.
In time, I came to learn some simple truths that really helped me in the area of condemnation and shame. Popular culture says, “Stop beating the crap out of yourself. Forgive yourself and let go.” There are some merits to this line of thinking; however, you can only go so far in your own strength. Would you like to hear an alternative? In Romans 8:33-35, Paul says the following:
“Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God Who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus Who died—more than that, Who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?”
The above quote comes from the NIV (New International Version) and it is an appropriate translation. Did you notice the emphasis on “No one”? God the Father has declared His children, free and clear of any charges. Those charges include the ones that we bring against ourselves. As Jesus is the One Who died and paid the price for us, the Son is certainly not the One condemning us. Did you catch the part about Jesus interceding for us?
Some time ago, a friend pointed me to 1 John 3:20-21. Here’s what John has to say:
“If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God.”
I have read the above passages many times. For years, I did not associate the above quote with the pain that I was going through. Thankfully, Jesus was already working on my heart and the Holy Spirit was helping me in the healing process. In time, I came to discover that I am not alone. That’s an important step in coming out of one’s hidey-hole.
I can fully agree with Paul, when he says:
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [Romans 8:37-39]
Did you notice that your past is not on the list? A product of self-condemnation is living in the past. Did you not know that Jesus came to set you free from the shackles of the past? Is it not time to cross over to the present and come out of your hidey-hole?
<- Chapter 4: Come Out of Your Hidey-Hole (pt 5) TOC Chapter 5: Altitude, Attitude ->
The above is from my first book, A Lesser Human: An Anthology of Overcoming. Are you enjoying what you’ve read? You can read the rest of it, by buying my book. It’s currently available on Amazon.
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