Forgiven and feeling it

Here’s a letter I received from a hurting young woman:

Dear Worthy Daughters Lady,

How can I get past the guilt of doing something stupid? What I did is beside the point, but bottom line, I knew right from wrong and chose wrong. And now the shame has set in. For years I’ve loved God and followed Him. Then gradually, I turned my back and ignored everything He stands for.

When will I feel better? Every time I’m reminded of my sin, it’s like a kick in the gut. I’ve asked God to forgive me, and I know He has. It’s just that I’m so sorry for going outside His plan. When will I stop beating myself up?

You can use answer me in your blog, just change my name. There are plenty of girls who feel like I do. We need to feel forgiven.

Love,  B—–

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Dear B—–,

You’re right: Lots of young women feel guilty after God has forgiven them. Sin is ugly for many reasons, one being the residue it leaves behind. But according to God’s Word, we can find grace despite our pasts.

“…Your sins are blotted out so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).

You seem confident of God’s forgiveness. That’s big. No matter what you’ve done, He wipes the slate clean. I assume you know this comes only through the sacrifice of Jesus. (If not, message me.) So to be forgiven, it’s simply a matter of asking and then turning away from the sin.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us…” (1 John 1:9).

 As someone who’s received forgiveness but struggled with shame, I understand the dilemma. Your head knows the concept of mercy and grace. Your head believes God still loves you. But the heart is overcome with self-loathing, even disbelief you could fall so far so quickly. Please hear from a daughter like you who’s traded guilt for joy:

1)    Anyone can fall. And God can use anyone. The Bible is full of believers who messed up, repented, and then found themselves back in the center of God’s will. Don’t let the enemy trick you into shrinking away, thinking you’re damaged goods now. Are you forgiven? (Yes.) Are you returning to that particular sin? (NO!) Then trust scripture and reestablish your place on Team Jesus.

 “Come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

 2)     It’s something you did, not who you are. I’m not minimizing sin here. We’ve all sinned, so we’re all sinners. But if you’re a child of God, then your identity is in Him, not the sin! 🙂 The thing you did that sickens you? Yeah, it’s hugely regrettable, but it’s not who you are. You are no longer defined by your sin. You have His name.

“…Your sins are forgiven for His name’s sake” (1 John 2:12).

 3)     You won’t forget, but He will. The painful, open wound of your disobedience will heal over time. (The best salve for this is applying Philippians 4:8 daily.) But you won’t forget. It’ll be a distant reminder scar so that you don’t fall again. So that you don’t judge others. So that you don’t take the cross for granted. But here’s the beauty: God no longer sees the wound or the scar! Through the blood of Jesus, He sees your flawless, devoted heart.

 “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12).

I am praying for you, B—-, that your head knowledge trickles down to heart revelation. Through Christ, you can embrace the grace. He came to set us free, not only of the sin, but of the paralyzing guilt surrounding it.

Forgiven and feeling it,

Worthy Daughters Lady

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“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22).

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