“I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him.”
— C.S. Lewis (1898–1963)
Forgiveness in many ways is a mystery, or at least it seems that way. Like, it’s not as if it’s easy to explain to someone how to receive forgiveness—that grace of God that lightens our gait. We can wonder why it is so strange that the experience of receiving forgiveness, and living out of that peace, is so rare (even amongst Christians).
I liken the experience of forgiveness—the receipt of the grace of God so we may feel, within ourselves, forgiven and released to live unburdened by resounding guilt and shame—to a connection with God that is also a connection with ourselves.
Indeed, being that God is within us, it’s the same connection, but one intricately wired.
If we have experienced, truly, forgiveness through the abounding grace of God, we will feel set free from condemning ourselves. I don’t believe we can feel completely forgiven by God if we routinely find ourselves condemned. The understanding of grace is complete upon the full realisation that Christ hung on the cross—once for all time—once for every person—once beyond any rescinding—and that reality is unfathomed in its potency.
When we know deep within this grace of God we cannot ever feel truly condemned.
And let’s not understate this. Wherever we remain to be healed, like where we continue to struggle, we have not yet reconciled to ourselves this grace of God that persists with humanity from age to age, eternally.
The truth of the matter is God never changes and nor does grace.
The moment we were saved by faith in Jesus, having put the old life behind us, in admission of our sin, was the very moment we were forgiven in its complete entirety.
Nothing more needed to be done other than our acceptance of the fact. But of course we couldn’t live that reality—not then—until we were gradually discipled through healing.
So the experience of forgiveness—the ability to forgive ourselves—is dependent upon God’s healing presence in our lives; that he has done works of healing over the years, and that he remains to be our healer. Of course all this is dependent on a thriving relationship with God, where the Lord comes first in our lives.
The moment we were saved by faith in Jesus, having put the old life behind us, in admission of our sin, was the very moment we were forgiven in its complete entirety. Ours is to live that reality through a journey of ongoing healing, by which, to know God.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.