There are times when I really ‘mess up’ and let God down in a big way. Fairly recently I became very angry about something and acted in a very "un-Christian" manner. Without going into detail, I said words to someone that I simply should not have said. They were hurtful and undeserved words.
Needless to say, I felt absolutely awful afterwards and pleaded repeatedly with God to forgive me and restore a right attitude within me. If only I felt forgiven straight away, but I didn’t. I sank into a pit, feeling I really didn`t deserve to be forgiven. God must be really fed up with me and this time, I`ve `gone a bridge too far` to be forgiven.
After a couple of hours of feeling wretched, I felt God showed me that I am good at asking His forgiveness, but not good at accepting His forgiveness. At that point, I accepted from God what I certainly didn’t deserve. I was then able to go and say sorry to the person I had spoken the harsh words to.
Subconsciously I had been rejecting His forgiveness because I felt so unworthy. Once the sin has been confessed, I need to believe the promises in His word that assure me I have been forgiven totally and completely. It is definitely not because I deserve it, but because He has already paid the price for every sin I have ever committed in the past, the present or the future.
If I fail to accept God’s forgiveness, I am actually doing the opposite, which is rejecting His forgiveness. His promises are totally true, regardless of how I think and feel. Failing to believe His word puts me on very shaky ground indeed. Asking and accepting are ‘two sides of the same coin’ which are equally important. There simply can`t be one without the other.
Then there`s the issue of forgiving myself and rejecting the self- condemning thoughts that come from the enemy which I can so often believe. Thoughts that I must be the most sinful Christian there is often begin to fill my mind. The good news is the word of God clearly gives assurance of forgiveness to all who ask. ‘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).
If someone wants to give me a birthday gift but I refuse to reach out and accept it from them, then the simple fact is the gift still belongs to the giver and it doesn’t become something I possess. Failing to accept God’s forgiveness is exactly the same. It will never become mine if I reject it. Perhaps, like me, you sometimes struggle to accept the forgiveness He so freely gives. He is always completely gracious and merciful. I have just been reminded of some of the words in the hymn ‘To God be the glory’ (lyrics by Fanny Crosby, written around 1872 but first published in 1875). Verse 2 of the hymn says, ‘O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood, to every believer the promise of God: The vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives’.
Prayer: Father God, I thank You so much for Your undeserved grace and mercy that You so freely give to all who sincerely ask for Your forgiveness. May I never fail to accept Your forgiveness, but trust Your promises which are faithful and true, irrespective of my feelings at any particular time or in any particular situation. Enable me to truly believe that I am truly forgiven. Amen.
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