Isaiah 43:25 – I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. (KJV)
I've known, truly known, God's gracious forgiveness all my Christian life. I've experienced beautiful times of repentance and the Lord's merciful lifting of burdens of known sins. I've literally lost count of all the forgiveness I've prayed for and received. I've been washed, cleansed, and freed from besetting sins and temptations, immeasurably.
There has been no doubt in my mind that Jesus died on Calvary, suffering a terrible death, to set believers free, and that He took upon Himself everyone's iniquities, in fact, the sins of the whole world. And so, I knew to bring all of my emotions into the light of God's Word.
Colossians 1:13-14 – For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (NASB)
But — in my case, a very big but — I found all too often the guilt and the remembrance of past forgiven sins would return when least expected. This returning, oppressive guilt would plague and torment me as if I had never received forgiveness at all — even though I knew by God's Word, as well as by the faith and belief in my heart, that I was forgiven.
Micah 7:19 – He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. (KJV)
My nagging prayer became, "Why, oh why, Lord, does the guilt and remembering keep returning, when I know that You have not only chosen to forgive, but also chosen not to remember, even to throw my sins into the depths of the sea?" After so long, a few years ago, I opened up enough to receive God's answer, and this truly works for me, now.
God had chosen to forgive and not to remember my sins, but had I? Obviously not! I hadn't chosen this as a deliberate act, as God had. Therefore, I hadn't asked the Lord to help me to choose to forgive myself or to help me choose to forget my sins. We hear it so often, don't we? "It's there for the asking, but you did not ask," and/or "You ask amiss."
Our loving, merciful Lord has taught me that He can heal tormenting memories and oppressive guilt, when we learn to choose what He chooses for us.
I knew it then in my heart, but I know it now by experience: as His beloved, we need to live in the full power of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, thus making pointless no part of the agony of His suffering. If God Almighty chooses to blot out the sins we have repented of, and to cast our sins into the depth of the sea, remembering them no more, we can surely learn to forgive ourselves.
We can live in the full freedom of God's forgiving grace. We can and should declare fearlessly at any time, to anyone doubting — including ourselves — that "I am forgiven."
Prayer: Thank You, Lord Jesus, for Your great and wonderful sacrifice on the cross. May we always remember that true repentance and Your forgiveness free us from all guilt, so that we may live more fully the abundant life You sacrificed Yourself to give us. In Your holy name, we pray. Amen and Amen!