There are topics that could fill a booklet. To write an article covering every place where forgive, forgave, forgiving, forgiveness, and other similar words would fill a booklet. Today, I will touch only on a few, which I hope bless your life as they have mine. Also, I was asked a question by a believer who had sinned and was having a problem forgiving herself.
I had a problem with this myself, from Vietnam! I was in a battle that you will not find in any history book, but it is a part of my history, and it had an effect on my life that I kept pretty much to myself for 25 years. I will not be sharing the names of people or the place as that is not germane to the topic. We were on a hill and had to defend it from an attack where we were out numbered. I was a platoon sergeant at the time and was placing men in positions for the defense of our perimeter. Reports told us we were in some hot water dealing with the enemy in this area. Our enemy had artillery and a large stockpile of weaponry. I knew this day would not end well. When placing people in various positions, it was by what we needed in that position. There was no way I could figure which place they would attack or how hard they might hit any particular area. I used everything I had been taught at the U. S. Army Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia. I thought I knew the best place to place every man who had a machine gun, a grenade launcher, or a rifle and so on! Nothing could have prepared me for the aftermath of the battle. The enemy hit us with everything they had. We were hit and hit hard! A couple times they even broke through our perimeter, but we were victors when the shooting stopped. For me, it was a hollow victory because I had to live with the fact that 13 guys I placed in positions to fight were never going to see their loved ones ever again in this life.
Inside I was devastated! But I could not tell anyone, nor could I show it to my men. How do you forgive yourself when you feel it was your fault those men were dead? I know and knew who ever was in those positions would more than likely have met the same fate, but I put them there, no one else. I shouldered that for 25 years. I kept telling myself the outcome would have been worse had I not put those best qualified in the key positions. I felt guilty for their deaths no matter what I told myself.
I have served almost 46 years in full time ministry and even that made me feel worse. Why? I felt more responsible for those in my fellowship than for those under me in a combat situation. I felt I was responsible for their spiritual lives. I buried myself in physical work being on staff, showing my value there. I cheated myself from serving in the capacity I feel I needed to be in because I could not forgive myself! I did that because I would not forgive myself! I finally learned to, but today I know even more about what the Bible teaches. Today, I am where I am, doing what I am doing because I finally forgave myself and started doing what the Lord wanted me to do. There were a few other factors, which I have covered in other areas and articles which still slowed me down, until a little over two years ago when the Lord helped me start this ministry. I will get into forgiving yourself after we discuss some things about forgiveness first. This next verse was where my deliverance began.
Psalm 103:12 (NIV)1
as far as the east is from the west, so far has he [God] removed our transgressions from us.
I first had to learn God removed our transgressions from us! Then, as this verse says, “as far as the east is from the west…” that is how far God removes them. That is really far! We can go north and after we travel so far we will start going south. The same is true with traveling south; after you travel so far you will start traveling north. Now east and west are different! If we travel east and keep going, we will never end up going west. In that way, they do not ever meet! No matter how far east I go, I am still going east, and the same with west. So, God removes them that far! It is so awesome how loving our God is! In this next verse, it states Jesus told them if they were forgiving to others, God would forgive them.
Matthew 6:14 (NIV)
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
So, you can forgive men! Then, you have to be able to also forgive yourself. Why? The forgiveness you give allows God to forgive you. God is bound by His own Word. God is powerful enough to make us do what we should do. He could have made you a robot that just walks around saying, “I love God,” “I love God,” but He did not. You and I were given free will. When we do what He asks us to do, then He will do as He states. When Jesus said the word, “men,” the term really is speaking of mankind. So, if men sin against you, you are to forgive them. Correct? Yes! Are you a part of mankind and have you ever sinned against yourself? I HAVE! So then, I may at times need to forgive myself. There will be more on forgiving yourself later in this article. I am throwing in this next verse because it mentions thoughts. Thoughts can defeat us. Thoughts like, “I was guilty of those men’s deaths,” and not forgiving myself.
Acts 8:22 (NIV)
Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord [Jesus]. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart.
Both God and His Son can forgive us for anything wrong we do. We need to seek Them in earnest for this. Do not walk around afraid to tell anyone how you feel because you think you cannot forgive yourself. There are many people who will understand, even if they never were in the type of problem you were in. I felt only war veterans could understand, but most of them were not where I was with the Word of God. So, I THOUGHT, “How could they understand?” I did not tell anyone because of my fears of them not understanding. Many times others do understand. We need to open our mouths and our hearts. Everyone today, in this time, can and will be forgiven, if they believe in him and ask. See this verse.
Acts 10:43 (NIV)
All the prophets testify about him [Jesus] that everyone who believes in him [Jesus] receives forgiveness of sins through his [Jesus] name.”
So, any Christian can be forgiven of the bad things they have done. The forgiveness of sins is there for us today and it comes from Jesus!
Acts 13:38 (NIV)
“Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.
When we get, “Born Again,” Jesus covers our sins by forgiving us. Then, when we make mistakes and sin in life, if we ask for forgiveness, he will clean us up again, or covers our sins as the verse below says. The verse also says, we are blessed when this happens. Our Lord is so loving and forgiving!
Romans 4:7 (NIV)
“Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
This next verse, I really love! It starts out, “If you forgive anyone….” Can that ANYONE be yourself? Sure it can because it says, “anyone,” and I believe that includes yourself!
2 Corinthians 2:10 (NIV)
If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake,
Ephesians below says again, we have, “the forgiveness of sins….” Here it is referring to when we get, “Born Again.”
Ephesians 1:7 (NIV)
In him [Jesus] we have redemption through his [Jesus] blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace
Below it states to be, “…forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Again, more forgiveness!
Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
This next verse states, we are to, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.” I believe that would include yourself because Colossians is to all Christians. In the opening of Colossians it says in verse 2, “To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ….” Hey, that is us Christians!
Colossians 3:13 (NIV)
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
This next verse goes with some of the verses we read in the Hebrew Scriptures earlier. He forgives and remembers our sins no more!
Hebrews 8:12 (NIV)
For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
So, if God puts our transgressions as far as the east is from the west, and here it says, He will remember them no more, then why do we hold on to them and not forgive ourselves? Earlier I said, “cleansed,” when the verse said, “covered.” Well, there are verses which say, “cleansed,” but here it says, “purify!” This confession can be to one another or the Lord.
1 John 1:9 (NIV)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
We are forgiven on account of Jesus’ name. Look at this verse.
1 John 2:12 (NIV)
I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name [Jesus].
I think you should now understand that you can and should forgive yourselves. I want to talk about a couple of articles we have here on our website. These will tie up any lose ends. The first article is, “For There Is No Respect of Persons with God.” In that article, I am teaching on leadership, but the principles apply to life. I cover how God, Jesus, and we Christians are to not be, “respecters of persons.” We are to have equal concern for each other. See this verse.
1 Corinthians 12:25 (NIV)
so that there should be no division in the body [Body], but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.
Therefore, if there are to be no divisions in the Body [which is the Church, and you and I are a part of that Church] and we are to have equal concern for each other, how could you forgive someone else and not yourself? You could not!
The other article is, “Put God First, but After That, Who Is Next?” This too is on leadership but applies to everyday living. We cover how we have to love our neighbor AS ourselves. That is so important, and I explain how you cannot love your neighbor more or less than you love yourself. Also, you cannot love yourself more or less than your neighbor either. With all this in mind, I feel that forgiving ourselves has to be just as easy as forgiving someone else. If I cheated on my wife and had an affair with another woman, and I asked my wife to forgive me, I then need to forgive myself too. That will not happen, but in my life I have sinned, and my wife did forgive me. So, I have learned to forgive myself. You can too!
People, God has forgiven you and me. He put our transgressions as far as the East is from the West and remembers them no more. Do not let the Evil One or his buddies fly through your head and plant the thoughts of un-forgiveness in your mind. They can fly through but have no right to take up residence unless we let them. Do not let them! Ask God and He will help you remove those thoughts. Today, I cannot even remember one name of any of those men I placed in those positions back in Vietnam. Praise God! Thank you Lord Jesus and your Daddy too!