Accepting God’s Forgiveness – A Path to Freedom

God’s grace is where hope is found for deep, lasting transformation in our character.

Facing the truth is the only way we can begin to move beyond a life that is characterized by guilt and controlled by fear. But let’s be honest. It is not easy to face the truth. At one level, most of us would prefer to forget how deeply we’ve been hurt and the harm we’ve caused ourselves and others in response to being hurt. Although a commitment to the truth requires us to admit enormous pain and to be humbled and saddened by the extent of our selfishness and rebellion, it opens doors (which denial never can) that take us into a greater appreciation for forgiveness. God’s grace is where hope is found for deep, lasting transformation in our character.

An Appreciation For Forgiveness. A commitment to truth enables us to see a lot about ourselves. Not only have we been hurt beyond words, but we’ve discovered that we’re angry and determined to handle our fear and hunger without God’s help. We have viewed people as enemies to defend ourselves against or resources to get what we demand. Although we’ve done some good things, we have come to see that we are far more guilty of not loving people and rebelling against God than we ever could have imagined.

What’s most surprising, however, is not just the extent of our sin but God’s response to it. We approached God with our doubts and rage. He’s aware of our idolatrous attempts to rebel against Him and use people. But unlike others we’ve encountered, He doesn’t shame or reject us. Amazingly, He responded to our rebellion long ago by turning on His Son and punishing Him on the cross for our sake. Our sins were paid for when God publicly disgraced and cursed His Son for us (Gal.3:13).For some, seeing God’s gracious response to their sin may be the first time the gospel has overwhelmed their hearts.

For those of us who are Christians, it’s another opportunity to see God for who He really is and to accept and appreciate another dimension of His grace. Consider the scene of the cross for a moment. Matthew’s account tells us that as Jesus struggled to breathe while bearing the shame of our sins, many bystanders began to hurl insults at Him. The two thieves who were being crucified next to Him initially began insulting Him as well (Mt.27:44).

Luke sheds further light on the story by describing a radical shift in the attitude of one of the thieves. As the thief watched Jesus suffer enormous physical and emotional pain, he noticed something different about Him that stunned him. Jesus wasn’t angry with His executioners. He desired to see them forgiven (Lk.23:34).He didn’t resist the unthinkable torture. Nor did He retaliate. He willingly suffered. We don’t know if the thief fully understood that Jesus was suffering for him, but Jesus’ quiet humility and kindness drew him out of his own anger and selfish preoccupation. Something began to soften in his heart and he expressed his desire for a Savior (Lk.23:40-42).

In our own less-than-obvious ways, we too have questioned and even raged against God. We’ve excused our rebellion because of what has happened to us or what may happen to us. But as we honestly approach Him, we too can gain a greater appreciation for His remarkably kind response to our rebellion. His mercy can soften our anger and quiet our doubts. As we stand before Him sinful and without excuse, we can experience how He “gives grace to the humble” (Prov.3:34).As we see our rebellion more clearly, we can be overwhelmed and captivated by the “riches of His kindness” (Rom.2:4).

The psalmist’s faith in God was restored as he remembered and meditated on the “miracles of long ago” (Ps.77:10-20). In a similar way, it’s the memory and increasing awareness of our “exodus” from the bondage of sin that restores our confidence in God when it looks as though there is little reason to believe that He is for us. If we are not increasingly overwhelmed by His grace—that the Innocent One paid the price for the guilty—then we will be unable to see past our own emptiness, rage, or fear. But as God’s forgiveness increasingly becomes our greatest treasure, it will give us the faith to keep moving forward and it will liberate our desire to love (Lk.7:47).

This article is Adapted from When We Don’t Measure Up: Escaping the Grip of Guilt, a Discovery Series resource from Our Daily Bread Ministries. To read the full article, or to order free copies of this or hundreds of other free resources, click the link or the banner below.