A few years ago, I made a big mistake. Honestly, that is an understatement. I sinned. I cross boundaries God did not want me to cross. I denied what I believe. I broke trust with people I love. I failed and fell short of the glory of God.
Since that time, I have claimed the power of forgiveness in Jesus Christ. I understand that he died on the cross to pay my debt of sin. I did not deserve his special treatment, and that is called grace. I am forgiven, and my life moved on.
The only problem is that when my life quiets down for a few moments, my mind drifts back to that mistake. At those times, I begin to beat myself up about my failure.
“How could I have been so stupid? I knew better. It is no wonder some things in my life are such a mess; I completely deserve it. If I were God, I would punish me in a way I would never forget. How could anyone love me? If people knew what happened, I would be humiliated. My sin is greater than I can bear.”
These are just a few of the lines that race through my head when I think about my sin. Sure God may forgive me, but I still deserve some punishment for my sin. Even if it all just happens inside my own head.
Recently I was driving down the road and had started the process over. The pain I was feeling was genuine, and I couldn’t escape it. Then as clearly as I am writing a thought went through my brain, “Jesus paid all of your debt on the cross so you can stop beating yourself up.”
The Bible never speaks about us “forgiving ourselves.” The Bible pushes us to remember that Jesus paid it all. Mentally torturing yourself is of no value. Each one of us can let go our sin and shame in the name of Jesus. God forgives you, and that is enough. The price for sin has been paid in full.
I wish I could say that this concept changed me and this will be the last time I will struggle. I know better than that. One of the aspects of faith is continually clinging to the cross even when I don’t feel like I deserve it. It is about letting go of punishment, even self-punishment because the cross was enough.