Forgiven And Free
Insights from Max on Life
How can I get free of the fear that God might not forgive me? I’m always afraid that I’m not perfect enough.
After we’d been in San Antonio only a short time, I decided I should buy a new jacket for Easter. Where we served in Brazil, no one wore coats and ties, so I didn’t have many. Hence, I went to buy one. At the rack I realized I was standing next to a well-known citizen, Red McCombs. He owns car lots and at one time owned an NFL football team in Minnesota.
We exchanged greetings and niceties. He told me about his brother, a pastor. I told him how happy I was to be living in San Antonio. After a moment we returned to our shopping. I selected a jacket, went to pay for it, and was told these words: “Your jacket has already been paid for. The man you were talking to covered your bill.” My first thought was, Boy, I wish I’d picked out some slacks too.
Think about what happened to me. I was in debt. Then, all of a sudden, I found that my debt had been paid. I could deny the gift or accept it. The decision was easy. The gift giver had ample resources with which to pay for the coat. I had no reason to doubt his sincerity or ability.
Nor do you. God has ample ability to love and care for you.
Of course, what Jesus did on the cross was far greater than what Mr. McCombs did for me. Jesus took our place. What if my benefactor had offered to trade places with me? Exchange financial statements with me? Swap fortunes with me? He would have inherited my debt, and I would have inherited his abundance.
Through Christ we inherit abundant mercy. Enough to cover a lifetime of mistakes. Jesus, in turn, took on severe poverty. While on the cross, he was robbed of everything—his health, his dignity, his friends, his strength, and, most of all, his God.
For once and for all, he proved his love.
I know the Bible says I’m forgiven. But my conscience says I’m not.
Jesus loves us too much to leave us in doubt about his grace. His “perfect love expels all fear” (1 John 4:18 nlt). If God loved with an imperfect love, we would have high cause to worry. Imperfect love keeps a list of sins and consults it often. God keeps no list of our wrongs. His love casts out fear because he casts out our sin!
Tether your heart to this promise, and tighten the knot. “If our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things” (1 John 3:20 nkjv). When you feel unforgiven, evict the feelings. Emotions don’t get a vote. Go back to Scripture. God’s Word holds rank over self-criticism and self-doubt.
As Paul told Titus, “God’s readiness to give and forgive is now public. Salvation’s available for everyone!… Tell them all this. Build up their courage” (Titus 2:11, 15 msg, emphasis mine). Do you know God’s grace? Then you can love boldly, live robustly. You can swing from trapeze to trapeze; his safety net will break your fall.
Nothing fosters courage like a clear grasp of grace.
And nothing fosters fear like an ignorance of mercy. May I speak candidly? If you haven’t accepted God’s forgiveness, you are doomed to live in fear. Nothing can deliver you from the gnawing realization that you have disregarded your Maker and disobeyed his instruction. No pill, pep talk, psychiatrist, or possession can set the sinner’s heart at ease. You may deaden the fear, but you can’t remove it. Only God’s grace can.
Have you accepted the forgiveness of Christ? If not, do so. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 nkjv). Your prayer can be as simple as this: Dear Father, I need forgiveness. I admit that I have turned away from you. Please forgive me. I place my soul in your hands and my trust in your grace. Through Jesus I pray, amen.
Having received God’s forgiveness, live forgiven!