360° Forgiveness Living Forgiven
The idea of forgiveness is central to the Bible. In fact, many persons come to accept Jesus, but not his forgiveness. Like the Prodigal Son, we continue to live like a hired servant rather than live in the forgiveness that true sons receive.
Colossians 1:14 (NLT 1996) says, "God has purchased our freedom with His blood and has forgiven all of our sins." We didn't earn it. It's a gift from God. Jesus' death removed the sin that stands as a barrier between God and us so that we can have a relationship with Him.
We understand His forgiveness in our minds, but we haven't accepted it as a reality in our hearts and in our relationship with God. We recognise that though forgiveness is an event, it is also a process. So what should happen in our lives when we really receive God's forgiveness? How do we live a life of forgiveness?
1 John 1:9 reminds us " ... if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from every wrong." He will wipe the slate completely clean. God wants you to live as someone who has received His forgiveness. When we live as forgiven, God wants to replace four heavy burdens in our lives:
1. The burden of doubt
Doubt holds us back from God's best - doubts about ourselves, doubts about our abilities, doubts about others, and even doubts about God. God wants to replace your doubts with security. In Hebrews 10:17 (NLT), God says, "... I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds." There is no need to do anything else when you have been forgiven. You don't have to doubt your security. When God steps into your life and offers you forgiveness, it's done.
2. The burden of guilt
Guilt from past mistakes and past sins cause many of us pain. Guilt is knowing that you have messed up and you're experiencing the blame for that mistake. It always comes attached to another emotion - shame. Shame is a humiliating emotion that makes you feel bad about yourself. So many of us are carrying around guilt and shame over mistakes made in the past. But God doesn't want this for you; He wants to replace your guilt with peace. Guilt is not from God. Through forgiveness, God wants to remove the guilt and shame in your life. "Everyone who believes in Him is freed from all guilt and declared right with God ... ." (Acts 13:39 NLT 1996)
3. The burden of regret
Many of us have regret about things that have happened in our lives that we wish we could have changed. And regret, just like guilt, is not from God. God doesn't want you to experience regret in your life. He wants to replace your regret with hope. Romans 4:7 (NLT) says, "Oh what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight." There is nothing that you can do that will prevent God from creating a new future for you with hope and endless possibilities. It's never too late with God.
4. The burden
Fear of the unknown can cripple us. God neither wants you to nor created you to live in fear. He wants to replace your fear with courage. So how does God's forgiveness help us overcome our fears? When we are forgiven, our future is secured, and we know this in our heart. That means, when God asks you to move you out of your comfort zone, you don't have to be paralysed with fear because you know that God will be there and will take care of you. "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT).
When we take a step towards God, God runs towards us. When you recognise your need for Him and receive His forgiveness through Christ, He gives you all the benefits of being his child. "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge cloud of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down. ... and let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us." Hebrews 12:1 (NLT).