As we choose to follow Jesus and choose to allow His Holy Spirit to work in our lives, He begins to show us how horrible sin is, how much power it has over us, and how much suffering it causes. This working of the Holy Spirit leads to intense guilt—shame that we’ve fallen so low, and that, even when we know what is right, we still go back to our old habits.
How can we be set free from this guilt? How can we find harmony with God?
What we need is peace. The bad news is that there is absolutely nothing we can do to get it. The good news is that God gives it to us as a gift (John 14:27). All you have to do is reach out and take it.
“Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).
“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you” (Ezekiel 36:26).
Often I’ve found it difficult to believe that God would be willing to accept me yet again. But if we have told Jesus we’re sorry for what we’ve done, firmly decided we do not want to commit those sins any more, and resolved to give ourselves to God, we can be 100% confident that, when we ask, He will wash away our sins and give us new hearts. How can we be so confident of this?
Because He has promised.
“Come let us reason together saith the Lord, though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18).
When God promises us something, and we believe that we receive what He has promised, the promised thing is ours.
All Jesus’ miracles were designed to teach us that, when we believe God forgives us, we have His forgiveness. Referring to Jesus’s miracles, John said, “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:31).
The simple story of Jesus healing the paralyzed man at the pool of Bethesda teaches us how to accept Christ’s forgiveness. Jesus asked a paralyzed man to “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk” (John 5:8). If I were that man, I’m afraid I probably would have said something like, “Look at me! I’m paralyzed. I can’t walk. You heal me first, and then I’ll get up and walk.”
But that’s not what he said.
Instead, he decided to walk, and then he did walk. He acted on Jesus’ promise, and God supplied the power he needed. He was healed.
We’re just like that paralyzed man. We’re sinners. We can’t shake our guilt. We can’t make our hearts pure, but God promises to do all this for us through Christ. So, the steps to receive these blessings become very simple:
- Believe God’s promise.
- Tell God you’re sorry for what you’ve done.
- Tell Him that you want to serve Him.
- Decide with all your heart to serve Him.
If you do these four simple things, God absolutely, 100%, no-doubt-about-it, will fulfill His promise to you. When you believe God’s promises of forgiveness and cleansing, God supplies the fact. You are forgiven. You are cleansed.
Don’t wait to feel forgiven or cleansed. Say, “No matter what I feel, I believe it because God promised it.”
“What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24). This promise is conditional—it only applies to asking for things that are according to God’s will (1 John 5:14, 15). But forgiveness for sin and a changed life are according to God’s will. We can ask for these, believe that we have them, and then thank God that we do have them.
Now you belong to the Creator of the universe. You are a part of God’s family. Don’t draw back. Every day decide again to give your heart and life to Him. Ask Him to give you His Holy Spirit and grace to keep you just this day. “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him” (Colossians 2:6).
It’s easy to think that we have to earn God’s blessing, but we can claim His blessing right now. Without the blessings of His Spirit and grace, resisting evil is impossible. We can come to Jesus just like we are, and then He will heal us from our sins and purify our hearts.
It can be very tempting to think that Jesus doesn’t pardon me, even if He does pardon other people. We must put away this suspicion! When you follow the four steps to forgiveness, Jesus forgives you, yes, you. He longs to empower you to live a victorious life. No matter how sinful you are, He can and will deliver you. Don’t let your doubt prevent Him.
God isn’t like we are. He doesn’t hold grudges. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7).
Satan wants to take away every bit of hope we have. Do not let him do it! Don’t even listen to him! “For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye” (Ezekiel 18:32). Repeat God’s promises. Say decidedly, “I know God loves me. He died for me. I know I’ve hurt Him. I will go and ask Him for forgiveness, and ask to be one of His servants.” When you do this, Jesus will respond exactly like the prodigal’s father: “And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him” (Luke 15:20; see also verses 18, 19).
But even the story of the prodigal son doesn’t do justice to the incomprehensible love of God. “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (Jeremiah 31:3). While we are still in the world, wasting the many gifts God has given us, He longs to have us near Him, to heal our wounds; and He works proactively through His Holy Spirit to awaken an answering call in our hearts.
Can we really doubt God’s love for us when God has given us so many precious promises? Put away these thoughts! Nothing is more damaging to our souls than to believe Satan’s lies regarding our heavenly Father. He hates sin, but He loves every sinner.
Come to Jesus. Don’t let your doubts nor your many failures stop you. Thank God for His blessings. Claim them as your own. Remember that His promises are tokens of His love and pity for you.
“As you draw near to Him with confession and repentance, He will draw near to you with mercy and forgiveness” (Steps to Christ, 55).