You Are Forgiven (Even When It's Hard To Forgive Yourself)

Here's a small taste of the proper distinction between Law and Gospel to start us out today...



We fell under God's wrath and displeasure and were doomed to eternal damnation, just as we had merited and deserved. There was no counsel, help, or comfort until this only and eternal Son of God -- in His immeasurable goodness -- had compassion upon our misery and wretchedness. He came from heaven to help us (John 1:9). So those tyrants and jailers are all expelled now. In their place has come Jesus Christ, Lord of life, righteousness, every blessing, and salvation. He has delivered us poor, lost people from hell's jaws, has won us, has made us free (Romans 8:1-2), and has brought us again into the Father's favor and grace. 
-- Large Catechism II 28-30


While that's true, there are many believers who still struggle with this reality on a daily basis.



Mark 9:24 (ESV) ..."I believe; help my unbelief!"


Indeed.

Sadly, sometimes the sins we commit seem to us to be too awful to be forgiven by God. After all, if He's a good and "Righteous Judge" (and He is), then how could He ever look the other way and excuse our own gross sins committed against him and against others?

He can and will look the other way! In fact, truth is, He already has "looked the other way" thanks to the sacrifice made by His Son our your behalf when Jesus died for your sins, was resurrected from the grave defeating sin and death once-and-for-all, and having imputed His own righteousness to you merely due to His grace, love, and mercy!


Yet, we pity ourselves so much sometimes that we make a mockery of what He's done for us by ignoring it completely, and acting as though it still wasn't enough, because we are somehow a "worse sinner" than everyone else (or so we think).

Once we start thinking like that, we tend to quickly find ourself on a path of "Works Righteousness" where we assume that if we can just do enough "good works" for the people around us, if we can just prove that we're a "good person" to God and everyone else, then perhaps maybe we can get Him to see and understand that we're not all that bad despite what we've done, and that we also feel really sorry for what we've done too.

Once we get to this point, we start to ignore God's Word, treat the Sacraments as just bread and wine (if not also only a "symbolic" act), and look to our own hands to save us.



 
Isaiah 64:6 (ESV) We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.


Truth is, the only hands that can ever forgive and save us are the hands of Jesus Christ that were nailed to a cross as He took the punishment for all our sins past, present, and future.

In essence, we replace the Gospel with the Law when it's the Gospel we so desperately need to be reminded of at this point!

We've all sinned. We all continue to sin. Each and every day we wage war against the devil, the world, and the flesh. This is why we repent for our sins on a daily basis.

However, when Satan, the Accuser, keeps throwing the past in your face, and even succeeds in causing you to doubt your salvation (or wonder if Jesus could even forgive and love someone like you after all you've done), then that's precisely the moment when you need to remember your baptism, and remind yourself that you belong to Him, and that you're already forgiven!

Friend, if you've repented of those past sins and placed your faith in the death and resurrection of Christ for you and the sins of all mankind, then know that He has forgiven you, know that you are redeemed, and know that those sins are as good as gone and forgotten by Him (even though you will still struggle to forget them yourself)!



Psalm 103:11-13 (ESV) For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.


You don't have to "do" anything with your hands "In Jesus' Name" to earn it either -- except believe in the Word that is preached and the Sacraments that are distributed and have faith in the truths they proclaim.

Simply receive His free gifts of forgiveness, grace, mercy, love, and salvation and believe in Him and His promises for you!



Romans 8:1 (ESV) There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.


I don't think we realize just how many people there are out there who still don't believe the glorious truth this verse proclaims to us, or who still don't believe it's possible for God to forgive them.

Instead, they'd rather put themselves up on a cross in their own mind day-after-day and leave themselves hanging there to be emotionally and spiritually mocked and tortured by Satan repeatedly without realizing that they can never do what Jesus Christ has already done (and continues) to do for them.

You know, it reminds me of an old Sanctus Real song with some powerful lyrics...



"Forgiven" 
Well, the past is playing with my head / And failure knocks me down again / I’m reminded of the wrong / That I have said and done / And that devil just won't let me forget / In this life I know what I’ve been / But here in your arms I know what I am / I’m forgiven / I’m forgiven / And I don’t have to carry / The weight of who I’ve been / 'Cause I’m forgiven / My mistakes are running through my mind / And I’ll relive my days in the middle of the night / When I struggle with my pain, wrestle with my pride. / Sometimes I feel alone and I cry. / And in this life I know what I’ve been / But here in your arms I know what I am / Well, I’m forgiven / I’m forgiven / And I don’t have to carry / The weight of who I’ve been / 'Cause I’m forgiven / When I don't fit in and I don’t feel like I belong anywhere / When I don’t measure up to much in this life / Oh, I’m a treasure in the arms of Christ / 'Cause I’m forgiven / Well, I’m forgiven / And I don’t have to carry / The weight of who I’ve been / 'Cause I’m forgiven.


In a Lutheran layman's terms, you are forgiven (even when it's hard to forgive yourself).



NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Corporate Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as an informal Public Journal of sorts about my own experiences and journey, and if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, 'Praise the Lord!' but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor." To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 3 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!

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1 comment:

  1. Perfect timing! Rev. Jeffrey Ries shared this recent exchange he had with someone on his Facebook page earlier today and I had to include it here to underscore the importance of the truths I attempted to highlight in this piece...

    "Yesterday, on a fire-chaplain call-out I sat with a 17 year old girl whose 44 year old father had unexpectedly died in his sleep from a heart problem. She had had a fight with her father the night before and stormed out of the house to stay at a friend's house. She immediately felt the deep guilt of having the last words to her father be words of anger. While the obvious lesson we take from these sorts of stories is, "Don't let the sun go down on your anger;" the other thing we ought to remember is what I helped her to understand: One exchange of angry words does not undo a lifetime of love. Don't let guilt own you. My prayer for this girl and her whole family is that they would know the comfort of Christ and His love; and that in Him all guilt is taken away."

    What a comforting and faithful response by this man of God!

    Grace And Peace,
    JKR

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with...Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all mature spiritually (myself included) then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!