So I am currently going through a personal battle. I mean we always go through battles but there is one specific battle that the Lord is leading me to address. Some days are better than others but after experiencing firsthand that God forgives, I was inspired to write this article.
I mentioned before that some days are better than others– as I believe it is with all of us. On my not-so-good days I usually “mess up” or give into the specific sin that I am battling with. Sometimes my thoughts are being stirred by the enemy and sometimes my thoughts are simply my flesh leading me to transgress. The enemy has been watching us from the moment we were born and he knows our weaknesses. So it isn’t a surprise that immediately after I finish praying(or even during prayer)that my mind can sometimes become bombarded with fleshly desires. Memories of partying,drinking,and living life on the edge etc begin to be all I can think about. While on a fast my aunt once said to me, “Be prepared for the devil to come back with a vengeance,” and I know exactly what she was referring to.
An escape? God always gives an escape. As stated in 1 Corinthians 10:13(NIV) : ” No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful;He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” An escape can be anything from being presented with alternative plans to the Holy Spirit bringing Scripture back to remembrance.I look at it to be anything that can allow us to gather ourselves and really consider what it is that we are contemplating.At first I always wanted to point the finger-trying to find some reason to support why sinning was inevitable. Then I began to grow up. There was always an escape but I didn’t have any intentions to look for it. I began to go in circles like the Israelites did in the wilderness for 40 years. It was time to start taking advantage of the escapes given to me.
Earlier this week I was battling some serious temptation so I decided to keep myself occupied by writing an article,watching tv,and keeping positive thoughts flowing. Sometimes these techniques work but sometimes they don’t and this specific time-they weren’t.It is always a good idea to speak the Word to bring peace (1 John 4:4, Philippians 4:13). I got so close to giving into the temptation BUT gospel started playing on my computer. I must admit,the music startled me because iTunes wasn’t even open. So I shut iTunes down to help me focus..(or to help ease the conviction of my thoughts)…then 2 minutes later the music started playing again,but with a different song. At that moment I was speechless. I shut iTunes down again and about 7 minutes later,ANOTHER gospel song started playing. So I sat there and thought,how foolish can I be? God is obviously trying to give me a boost because He knew I was struggling. I can never say God doesn’t provide an escape.
Throughout my walk with Christ I have experienced some of the worst feelings of guilt. There is a big difference with holding on to guilt and feeling convicted. I have actually been convicted while thinking about committing a sin,during, and afterward. What I did not know was that once we ask for genuine forgiveness from God, He throws our sins into the sea of forgetfulness.Micah 7:19(ESV): “He will again have compassion on us;He will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” Condemnation does not come from God, conviction does. Romans 8:1(NIV): “Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Guilt that followed me for hours and sometimes days made me feel horrible but it did not make me feel horrible enough to stop giving into the sin. It was ineffective and solely had intentions to make me feel miserable. I often feared that God would be so angry with me that He wouldn’t want anything else to do with me. Some nights I was so sure that God would strike me down and kill me because I had been so disobedient. My fear is usually followed by sadness because God is always so good to me time and time again and I somehow always find a way to disappoint Him.
The conviction that I feel after I “mess up” is more of a, “Yes, that was a mistake but get up and dust yourself off -no use in sulking in it.” Now that was effective. Of course God isn’t happy with sin and of course the fact that God is long-suffering shouldn’t give us an opportunity to try and take advantage of His patience….although it wouldn’t work anyway. But I believe God’s method was most effective (other than the fact that God is always correct and effective) because I was expecting a lash on the back and instead God showered me with love and compassion. God is understanding. He understands us more than anyone in our lives. This caught me so off guard that I didn’t know how to react-so I cried–joyful tears of course. I cried because the love of Christ overshadowed my soul’s love for sin. I learned early that our souls must be in subjection to the Holy Spirit because the flesh will get us sent directly to hell. The embracement of God encouraged me to really fight the good fight of faith. God knows how to deal with each of us according to our specific temperament and our different situations. There have been struggles that God had to deal with me in a very stern way while some circumstances required a little more patience.
Verses on forgiveness
- 1 John 2:1 (NIV): “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.”
- 1 John 1:9 (NIV):“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
- Acts 3:19 (NIV):“Repent,then,and turn to God,so that your sins may be wiped out,that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”
- Isaiah 43:25-26:(NIV):“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. 26 Review the past for me, let us argue the matter together; state the case for your innocence.”
- Isaiah 1:18 (NIV):“Come now, let us settle the matter,” 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.”
- Ephesians 1:7 (NIV):“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”
- Hebrews 10:17 (NIV): “Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”
- Colossians 1:13-14 (NIV):“13 For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
A personal favorite~Psalm 103:12 (NIV):“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
Now that we have established that God forgives…..do we?
The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant Matthew(NIV): 18:21-22:
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven times.
23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins.He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
For us to be forgiven for our sins it is first important that we forgive others.I am sure we all have our share of bitterness and resentment in our hearts from one extent to another. Besides the obvious reasons to forgive others, it is logical to treat others the way we wish to be treated.
- Ephesians 4:32 (NIV): “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.“
- Mark 11:25(NIV): “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone,forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.“
There isn’t any way on earth that a person can expect God to forgive them while they consciously fail to forgive others. Yes, I do believe that we can hold on to feelings of resentment towards others and not even realize it. However, it is an active duty to ask God to reveal and then remove those feelings. I am a witness that He’ll do it.