But have you forgiven yourself?
One of my favorite stories in the Bible happens between Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. What a look at the real heart of God our Father!
Instead of listening to the priests about her wrong-doing, he stooped down to write on the ground. He tells the crowd, let him without sin be the first one to throw a stone. They all leave, starting with the oldest (because it's the older ones who know their sins best!) to the youngest until none was left.
Then Jesus stands up and says to the woman, "where are they? Did no one condemn you?" Because the fact of the matter is, we have ALL sinned and fallen short of God's glory. None of us has the right to step up to the plate to throw a stone at another human, because none of us is worthy to cast a rock at someone else. And yet, the one person who is worthy, who is without sin, even He doesn't cast the first stone!
Jesus Says, "Neither Do I Condemn You!"
Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She answered, “No one, Lord!” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you either. Go. From now on sin no more.” -John 8:10-11 (AMP)
Jesus came not to abolish the Law or the Prophets, but to fulfill it. (Matthew 5:17)
He didn't remove the law from its place on this earth, which means it's still around. If you want to try and live by it, go right ahead! Take a look at the commandments and laws written in Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy and live by what's written. But if you want to live by them, you'll have to provide your own sacrifices for your sins too.
The beauty of Jesus' coming is that He fulfilled the law for us. He didn't get rid of it, He laid down His life as the PERFECT and ULTIMATE sacrifice for us. So that every year, we don't have to bring a lamb to the temple to atone for our sins. And we don't have to bring the burnt offering (Leviticus 1; 6:8–13), the grain offering (Leviticus 2; 6:14–23), the peace offering (Leviticus 3; 7:11–34), the sin offering (Leviticus 4; 5:1–13; 6:24–30; 8:14–17; 16:3–22), and the trespass offering (Leviticus 5:14–19; 6:1–7; 7:1–6) to the temple anymore.
Jesus is our perfect atoning sacrifice for every single thing we can ever do wrong! But, we have to receive it.
Jesus stood up and asked the woman if anyone condemned her, which I think He did on purpose so that she could say, out loud, "No one, Lord!" He wanted her to realize that she was not condemned by anyone. That no one was able to throw a stone at her because no one was worthy to do it.
And then, the most wonderful words: "I do not condemn you either." (AMP) This, this is why Jesus came to fulfill the law for us. God says, I have seen my people try to live by the commandments for thousands of years, and no one can do it. Even the most dedicated kings and prophets in the Bible couldn't live sinless in and of themselves.
Jesus came to earth as a baby, grew into a man, so that He could truly say to us that He knows what we suffer on this earth. He knows what it feels like to be rejected and broken. He knows what it feels like to be hungry, to be poor, to be happy, to be sad, to have friendships, and then to have those friends turn their back on Him. He knows. And He lived sinless and absolutely perfect.
But Jesus also wants us to see the Father's heart in His response. He says, I don't condemn you. And after His death on the cross, the Father no longer condemns you (Romans 8:1-4). Jesus laid down His life so we can come to the Father and KNOW that He no longer condemns us for any sin we have ever committed or will commit in the future.
When we receive the gift of no condemnation, and allow the truth of Jesus' words to reign in our hearts and in our minds, we will live free from guilt. Satan can come against us with our sin, friends can come against us, family can condemn us, but Jesus says I DO NOT CONDEMN YOU.
Hold fast to this truth! When you do, then what the world has to say about you or what the devil levels against you, won't matter! Because the only thing that will matter is what God says about you. You are forgiven!
It is only when we grasp this truth, and receive our gift of no condemnation, that we can go and sin no more. The days when I keep God's forgiveness in the forefront of my mind, are the days in which I have zero desire to sin for any reason. Why? Because freedom comes when we realize we are set free from the law. There is nothing you have to do. Just receive.
Jesus didn't turn and say to the woman, "Wonderful! I'm so glad they didn't kill you. Now in order to earn my forgiveness I need you to serve me and work for me." No, He said I don't condemn you. And then He said, "From now on sin no more."
In order for the woman to stop committing adultery, she needed to know Jesus didn't condemn her. It's the same for us. We need the revelation of Jesus's forgiveness in our lives for sin to lose its hold. Sin thrives when we feel condemned. Sin thrives when we feel guilty. Sin thrives when we think we can work for our own forgiveness. Sin dies when we say, "I can't do anything but look to Jesus. Thank you Jesus for not condemning me." Sin dies when we let go of our guilty conscious.
Today, God says to you, I do NOT condemn you!
Jesus Forgives You, Do You Forgive Yourself?
Perhaps you're at a place where you've received forgiveness for a wrong-doing and you know without a doubt that you are forgiven, but for some reason that event keeps coming to your mind. Maybe it's that you know you were at fault and you feel the weight of that. You realize you aren't condemned by God, but your own heart is aware that you did something wrong.
I've been there. I remind myself over and over that I am free from guilt and condemnation. Jesus died on the cross for my complete and total forgiveness. Yet, a scenario or circumstance keeps popping up in my in mind.
When this happens, I realize that I need to also forgive myself. Jesus doesn't condemn me, but I can still condemn myself. Because deep down I know that I committed a wrong against someone else or against God, and the result of sin is shame and guilt. It's a natural consequence written into the foundation of the earth. We feel guilty when we do something wrong.
So, when the enemy comes in to accuse me, or my own heart accuses me, I come before the Lord and I forgive myself. It's as simple as this.
Lord, I know I am forgiven by you.
Before I even sinned, you had already forgiven me!
But Father, I know I wronged (person's name), and I admit that.
Today, I forgive myself for hurting (person).
(Your name), I forgive you. I forgive you for messing up.
(Your name), I forgive you for not knowing better, for not recognizing what you were doing was wrong.
I let go of (name your mistake), and I move forward in freedom.
I am free of guilt, free of condemnation.
Jesus doesn't condemn, neither do I condemn myself.
I am forgiven! And I forgive myself.
Sometimes I do this while I'm in my Bible study, sometimes I go to a quiet place with my heart before God, and sometimes I look in the mirror as I utter the words. It's important that we receive God's forgiveness, but also that we forgive ourselves and let go of our mistakes. It's the only way we can step forward free from guilt and condemnation.
How Often Should We Forgive?
"Then Peter came to Him and asked, “Lord, how many times will my brother sin against me and I forgive him and let it go? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered him, “I say to you, not up to seven times, but seventy times seven." (Matthew 18:21-22)
In this verse Peter is asking Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother when he does something against Peter. Brother here can be changed out to family member, friend, stranger, enemy. When someone wrongs us, Jesus says to forgive them 70 x 7 times!
The number 7 is a fascinating Hebrew number. It is the number for completeness, and it also means rest, wholeness, being ripe, order, stability, and holiness. What Jesus is saying here is that the number of times really doesn't matter, but that we need to forgive that person over and over and over until we've completely let it go.
This verse can also be applied when we do something wrong and feel guilty or condemned. Receive the Lord's forgiveness as often as you need to, and forgive yourself in the same way. As often as your sin comes to mind, forgive yourself just as often! This is how we let go of our past mistakes and move forward into our future resting place with God.
The real importance is our heart. When we forgive and let go then we don't allow bitterness to take root in our heart. Bitterness causes our hearts to grow hard, and a hard heart is an unbelieving heart that cannot enter God's rest. (Hebrews 3:7-12)
So forgive until it's complete. Forgive until you find yourself whole and at rest.
You Are Free!
Choose today to let the past go. God doesn't hold it against you, so don't let it define you.
Satan would love to keep you in bondage to your past mistakes. If he can keep you in chains to it, then you will continue to walk in bondage. But if you learn the ways of our Jesus, that He doesn't condemn you, then you will move forward in freedom.
Has someone wronged you? Forgive them. Have you sinned? Receive your forgiveness bought with the blood of Jesus. See your bonds covered by the blood and forgive yourself.
Today, you are free from your past failures. Know it. Believe it. Receive it. Walk forward in freedom, and see how God turns the bad things from your past to work for good in your future.