Too many are slow to forgive themselves. If you fall into this category or know someone who does, carefully consider the following points.
Why forgive yourself?
If you don’t, you cannot be trusted.
What does forgiveness have to do with trust? On one level, you won’t change; or at least, you will be slow to change. As long as you’re holding yourself accountable for what you did, you will tend to believe you’re the same person who committed whatever crime against God, even if it is ancient history. Your focus will remain on your past. Your tendency will be to gravitate to old behavior, because as a person thinks in his heart, so is he (see Proverbs 23:7). Some believe their behavior equates to who they are, thus, they think they’re bad because their behavior was bad. As long as one believes he is the same person, he will more than likely sabotage any positive progress he may have made. “Two steps forward, one step back,” or in some cases, “One step forward, two steps back.” Providing one fails to forgive his or her self, the questioning will be ongoing: “Will I ever change?” Whatever you believe to be true is correct. Unforgiveness does not allow change. It loves to keep people where they are!
Why forgive yourself?
Because if you don’t, you’re still on the throne of your heart, instead of God.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Think about it: God was not counting our trespasses against us! Love covers a multitude of sins, or as Proverbs 10:12 puts it: “But love covers all transgressions.” Because He loves you, He doesn’t hold your sin on your account. Yet, here people are, keeping their sins on their account, even though Jesus paid the price. Listen, justice was served for “what you did!” Jesus died on the Cross. It doesn’t seem fair that He paid for our sin, does it? But, that’s the way God decided it should be done!
Why forgive yourself?
Because you’re insulting Jesus Who suffered for you, if you don’t.
If He wanted you to suffer for your sins, you would not be reading this. Your worthiness will always be based on Him; not what you suffer! In essence, as long as you hold yourself in unforgiveness, it will always be about you, and not Him. That is a failure to glorify God!
Why forgive yourself?
Until you do, you cannot be trusted with the things of God.
Forgiveness is a foundational principle of the Kingdom. It is elementary. If you will not steward forgiveness well, how can the Lord trust you with more things? Not only that, you will have difficulty receiving more because you’ll still struggle with worthiness. “Look at what I did, I’m not worthy of that!” In your mind, everyone but you will be worthy of the things of God, even though, Jesus is worthy for you to receive possession. Are you there even now? In short, unforgiveness keeps people from receiving. Unforgiveness blesses no one! It desires everyone to remain under the curse.
Why forgive yourself?
Because it is the only way to make it up to God.
You cannot make things right on your terms; it has to be done on His. Do you suppose when Jesus went to the Cross, the idea behind it was forgiveness because He loves you that much? So yes, one of His terms is that we receive forgiveness. In truth, if you don’t forgive yourself, you’re not in a place of repentance. Repentance does things His way. Forgiveness is part of it. Repentance is a change in the way we think, which changes the way we behave. It is time to think differently about forgiveness. If you hold yourself in unforgiveness until you “suffer enough,” it is still on your terms. Guess what: that will never make up for anything!
Fear must not be the driving force behind our walk with God; nonetheless, the fear of the Lord goes a long way in protecting it. Obviously, faith and obedience requires love to be in effect; and without it, faith and obedience is a nonstarter. Faith works by love (see Galatians 5:6), and to obey means to believe with the intent to conform to the desires of God out of love. When considering these basic principles, Matthew 7:21-23 becomes easier to grasp. Secondly, carefully weighing what’s said while listening to Holy Spirit is vital to understanding Scripture. Rushing through the pages of the Bible, while relying our opinions and that of others, will not lead to the proper conclusions. We must be willing to receive what the Lord intends for us to take away, if we are to truly understand His Word. That being said, let’s examine this hard saying of Jesus with an open heart.
Matthew 7:21-23Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
The will of our Father is vital to our eternal destiny, so let’s start there. Remember this important truth: The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). He truly desires everyone to live with Him for all eternity; however, He actually leaves the decision to accept His offer of eternal life to us. Jesus clearly states that those who do the will of His Father may enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. That means His Father must be our Father. Do not confuse doing the will of our Father with doing dead works. Our works are the result of our relationship with Him (see Ephesians 2:8-10). That’s why our works are called a labor of love.
John 6:27-29Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” Therefore, they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him Whom He has sent”.
To begin, our work is to believe in Jesus Christ, which also means we believe the Father Who sent Him. John 5:24Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
If we believe in Him, then it is also vital to believe Him. If you do not believe Him, you will not obey Him!
People tend to do what they believe to be true; unless of course, they decide to outright rebel or revert to fear. As already eluded to, the will of God is connected to love. 1 John 4:7-8Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. Clearly, those who don’t love God, don’t belong to Him. Only those who love Him are capable of obeying Him. Those who love God, love people as well. There’s a full lesson lurking in that statement!
Matthew 7:22 reveals that signs and wonders are not the sign of God’s approval.
Remember, these things confirm His Word; not us. To be clear, they will follow those whom the Lord has accepted, but don’t assume that it’s the litmus test of acceptance. Even a false prophet can prophecy something that comes to pass (see Deuteronomy 13:1-3). Secondly, the Name of Jesus works; not us. “Name” also refers to authority. We know we can do nothing apart from Jesus (see John 15:1-12). As a matter of fact, read John 15:1-12 to further understand the will of our Father. Even though some may have prophesied, cast out demons and done miracles in His Name, Jesus will declare to them, “I never knew you.” In biblical terms, to know someone is to be intimate with him or her. That means love was not the motive behind what they did. 1 Corinthians 8:3But if anyone loves God, he is known by Him. If you are questioning whether Jesus knows you, ask yourself this question: “Do I love Him?” If you answered, “Yes”,” then fear should have no part in you. 1 John 4:18There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. Look at the premise: signs and wonders don’t necessarily confirm God’s approval of those through whom they operate. Consider Judas Iscariot. He was with the other Apostles, healing the sick, casting out demons and so on, prior to betraying Jesus. Another example is the Caiaphas the High Priest. John 11:49-52But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation . . . Even though Caiaphas prophesied from the office of High Priest, he was still amongst those who cried, “Crucify Him!” Prior to our opening text, we read, Jesus references false prophets in verses 15-20, which is another clue as to whom He is referring.
Another important thing to pay attention to is what else Jesus said: “Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” These individuals actually practice lawlessness, or as the King James Version puts it, “iniquity.” Not only does the term, “lawless” point to trespasses, it is also a failure to keep the Law (of the Spirit and grace) which includes believing in Jesus Christ and loving God as well as people. Another example is not forgiving someone his or her offense, which is a failure to extend mercy after receiving it.
The bottom line is that those who practice lawlessness are devoid of love.
1 John 3:4-10Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.
1 John 2:18-19Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.
Jesus said, “You cannot serve God and mammon (wealth).For this reason, I say to you, do not be worried about your life. . .” (Matthew 6:24-25). It is good to pay attention to such phrases as, “For this reason.” It lets you know that there is an explanation for what was just said. Notice that “mammon” and “for this reason” are linked together. In verse 21, Jesus said, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (read 19-34 for full context). In short, it would be easy to chase after riches instead of God, and to store up earthly treasures instead of the heavenly. Some might say, “I don’t care about worldly riches”; nevertheless, their focus is always on money. Their life-decisions are connected to money. Unfortunately, they are failing to store up treasures in heaven because they’re too busy building up their “nest egg.” They’re allowing money to determine their destiny instead of God.
Because of worry over needs, a number of people will not do what the Lord asks of them. They are afraid of lack, which also reveals a lack of trust in Him.
Jesus, Himself, said your Father in Heaven knows what you need even before you ask. Oh, wait a minute, perhaps what some actually need and their idea of need differ. Does this relate to what they treasure? Money is neutral. It’s neither good or evil; however, what makes the difference is a person’s view and usage of money. 1 Timothy 6:10For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. Getting back to our premise; anxiety leads to serving mammon.
Sometimes, a small nudge can put someone completely off course. If a ship or an airplane were to change course by a fraction of a degree, it would completely miss its intended destination.
A person who worries over the bills can change focus from seeking God to seeking money. Sure, you need money to pay bills. Perhaps, some of those bills would not exist if what they were attached to, didn’t have such a high priority. Credit card companies are making a fortune from out of place priorities. It is wrong to have things? Of course not; unless, those things have your heart. There are some cool “rags to riches” stories. What makes them cool is that those who moved out of poverty and into wealth, kept their priorities straight. Their possessions didn’t possess them. In fact, as far as they’re concerned, they belong to God. They are willing to give them away at a moment’s notice, and indeed, they actually have done just that. They consider themselves to be God’s stewards. They are wealthy; not rich. There’s a big difference, and that’s another lesson. However, being wealthy doesn’t necessarily mean someone has boatloads of money; although, he or she could. Likewise, there’s a difference between being poor and living in poverty. The latter is attached to a victim mentality. Likewise, that’s another lesson.
When a person chases after needs out of fear, and once those needs are met, he may chase after more. Fear and greed sometimes walk in lockstep. Once the basics are covered, the desire to store up can be misplaced. Good stewardship includes planning for the future, but we still have to leave the future in God’s hands. We cannot afford to put our trust in uncertain riches, it must be firmly fixed in God. Beware of covetousness, it is better to chase after God than the “mighty buck.” Matthew 6:33But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Our Father knows what you need, do you?
At times, there may appear to be contradictions in the Bible. Usually this happens when a person reads on the surface level, and does not take time to work through Scripture with Holy Spirit’s leading. There are hidden treasures found in the Word of God, and since they’re hidden, you have to dig to find them. Yes, it requires work. It is a labor of love. It was Love that brought the Word, and because we love God, we spend time digging to both know Him and draw near to Him. The Bible is not a textbook, so our approach to it cannot be cerebral. We must study it using our heart, which in turn renews the mind. Even science has discovered the heart actually has a brain of its own, which makes perfect sense, since we are to believe with the heart. We actually labor from a place of rest when we study using the heart, as Holy Spirit reveals those treasures. Jesus said some apparent contradictory things that seem difficult to reconcile with the rest of Scripture; however, upon closer examination, we will find they fit together perfectly. So let’s begin with one of those sayings found in Matthew.
Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:17-19).
“Hold on! I thought we were under grace and not under the Law, yet Jesus just said whoever keeps and teaches it will be called great in the Kingdom. So, are we still supposed to follow the Law?”
Doesn’t that contradict Galatians 3:11? Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “The righteous man shall live by faith,” or as the KJV puts it: “The just shall live by faith.” Actually, there is no contradiction here. Let’s break it down using what Jesus said in Matthew and other passages in the Bible. To begin, Jesus said He did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. “Fulfil” is a key to unlocking this verse. What does it mean to fulfill? In the Greek, this word means to make full or fill, just as you would fill a vessel or hollow place. It literally means to cram. Figuratively, to fill, supply abundantly with something or impart richly. Finally, it means to bring to a full end, accomplish, complete, or to fulfill. It means that Jesus brought a full end to the Law by fulfilling all its requirements –He made it complete. Prior to the Cross and Resurrection, which is when Jesus said this, the Law of Moses was still in effect. Of course, after the Cross and Resurrection, grace came into effect. Those under grace, are complete in Jesus Christ, and come under a New Law.
Romans 3:21-31But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus . . . so that He would be just and the Justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law . . . Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law (read entire chapter for full context).
This new Law of Faith simply operates by love (see Galatians 5:6), and thus we find: “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:8-10).
Obviously, those who are not under grace, are under the Law. Jesus not only talked about fulfilling the Law, He also said He would fulfill the Prophets. These are actually joined together. The prophets declared that Jesus would fulfill the Law of Moses and bring us under a New Covenant. The prophetic books (Psalms; Isaiah, Jeremiah, and so on), prophesied Jesus would be born of a Virgin, live a sinless life, be beaten, die on the Cross and rise from the dead. Many prophecies have been fulfilled, and there are numerous ones yet to be fulfilled. When they are complete, no one will be under the Law of Moses, neither will there be sin and death.
The requirements pertaining to the sacrifice and atonement for our sins were completely satisfied by Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Ephesians 2:8-10For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. In short, as the result of our new nature in Jesus Christ, we comply with the Law simply by loving others. Love does not covet or do harm to others.