Forgiveness is a very difficult practice, especially when it comes to forgiving ourselves. The memory of past mistakes and having a guilty conscience about them contribute to the difficulty of forgiving ourselves. Yet, forgiveness is one of the most refreshing experiences of our lives.
I can remember how I felt when I was baptized at the age of 16. Realizing that all my past sins were forgiven when I came up out of the water was the most exhilarating experience of my life. I’m sure everyone who has been baptized has had the same emotion. I knew that forgiveness was made possible by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. That’s the very reason why Jesus came to the earth and died so tragically. For the most part, all of us understand that. But, it’s the memory of past and present mistakes that keeps bothering us. They feel like heavy weights on our shoulders. They keep gnawing on our conscience and it is hard for us to believe that the slate is wiped clean and we are as innocent newborn babies before God. But, praise God, it is true!
There was a time during the old covenant when animal sacrifices were a constant reminder to man that he was a sinner. Those sacrifices could never take away sin (Heb. 10:3-4). However, God promised those Old Testament worthies the time was coming when he would “…remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more” (Heb. 10:17). That promise was fulfilled when Jesus shed his blood at Calvary.
If God, through his son, Jesus Christ, forgives us when we obey the gospel, it seems to me that we should be able to forgive ourselves also. We would do well to follow Paul’s example when he said, “One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead” (Phil. 3:13). The past is past and forgiven by a merciful God. We should leave the past behind, forgive ourselves, and serve God fervently.