Every human being is born with the propensity for wrongdoing. We all lose our temper, lie, cheat, and in some form or fashion steal, some even kill, be it physically, mentally, spiritually or emotionally. This predisposition for trouble is a universal problem; no one is exempt it is systemic to all of mankind.
Imagine you have committed a crime punishable by life imprisonment or even death and you are being held in jail until the morning when you are scheduled to see the judge. When you appear before the magistrate, you remorsefully ask the court to forgive you for the offense. The judge based on your request agrees to pardon you, totally excusing your crime and ripping up your file. You are free to go released from jail restoring your life as it were prior to your crime just as though the crime never took place. However, you do not accept the court actions to remove the offense completely from you, and you return to the jail cell locking the door behind you. Guilt is a highly powerful weapon it can be so intense at times if allowed it will seemingly overshadow the enormous gift of pardon and restoration that has already been provided to you. Many people struggle with forgiving themselves some even finding impossible, but why?
I’m no theologian, however, I do not recall ever reading anywhere in the Bible where there are discussions or teaching on the idea of “forgiving yourself.” We are, however, told to forgive others when they trespass against us and seek our forgiveness. What of your guilt, remorse or in some cases years of anguish. God has provided forgiveness for everyone who will acknowledge and accept it. When you ask for God’s forgiveness based upon Christ having already paid for your sins and your having trusted in Him as Savior and Lord, He forgives you. Notice this forgiveness happens “according to the riches of His grace.” Scripture is careful, and explicit describing forgiveness as a gift, available for the asking 1 John 1:9. However, many of us often continue to struggle finding it difficult to accept God’s forgiveness.
Christ gave His life for your freedom. So do not willingly remain in shackles because you’re unwilling to accept what God has already pardoned – Galatians 5:1. Maybe you think, whatever it is you’ve done is too terrible, and you just can’t stop thinking about it. Unfortunately, we cannot selectively “delete” events from our memory. When Paul speaks of a “thorn in the flesh” in 2 Corinthians 12:7. He calls it “a messenger of Satan” that had a purpose of “torment.” No one can say for certain what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was, but whatever it was one thing is sure it was a continual source of real pain in his life. A pain that God allowed, we know He allowed it because in 2 Corinthians 12:9 He says to Paul “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”.
Much like the metaphorical explanation given by the Apostle Paul for his neverending problem described only as his thorn in the flesh. God may from time to time permit your sin to come to mind. Although, satan may intend it for evil, God allows it for His good purpose, He wants you to accept His forgiveness and rejoice in His grace that He tells us is sufficient. However, even though you are released from the bondage that sin had placed on you, as it explains in Romans throughout chapters 6-8, you can still choose to act as though you are not free. Equally, with your guilty feelings you can either accept the fact that you are forgiven in Christ, or you can believe the devil’s lie. The lie that continually says to you, that no matter what you are still clothed in guilt and should, therefore, feel and act guilty.
God wants you to be totally free. It is for that reason; He sacrificed that which was dearest to Him. I encourage you, if you have not already done so, ask God to dive deep into your heart so that your memories good and bad become the grid, and not your prison through which you interpret your experiences of life. See yourself as a forgiven child, and start enjoying fellowship with God the Father, having been made possible by the death of His Son Jesus. Then you can begin to fulfill His miraculous calling on your life.