Monday, February 22, 2016

Why Are You Holding On to Your Sin?

I , even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.
Isaiah 43:25

We've all been told--and hopefully believe--that our sins were forgiven when Jesus went to the cross. We've read lots of scripture telling us the same. But do you really believe it?

Sometimes we like to hold on to our sin...oh, I don't mean I keep sinning after we know we've been forgiven...well, there's that too, but that's not what I mean by "hold on." 

The "holding on" that I'm talking about is more of a penance that we're holding ourselves to--more of a nurturing of our guilt over that sin, even if we are no longer held captive to it. 



A personal unforgiveness for a particular sin that is just too awful for us, so we must continue the self-flagellation--even though Jesus has told us that we have been forgiven, even though we know we are forgiven. Grace works for others, but not for us...not for this sin.

We accept that God forgives us, but we can't forgive ourselves. 

There are two things wrong with this:

1. If God has forgiven us, what gives us the right to continue NOT to forgive ourselves? 

By doing so, we place ourselves above God, as if His Word alone is not enough. How presumptuous! How prideful! Either we take God at His Word...all of it...or we don't. 

2. We don't assign enough meaning to the word forgive. 

When God forgives us our sins, He remembers them no more. 

Some people are grudge holders. They remember every little infraction done by every single person they've ever encountered.



I am not one of those people. I find it too difficult to remember each instance, and I have better things to do with my time than recall past hurts. 

God doesn't hold a grudge against us. So why do we continue to hold a grudge against ourselves? 

According to the scripture in Isaiah, God not only forgives our sins, but He blots them out.

I have read this passage countless times and never really paid much attention to those two little words:

Blot Out.

The Hebrew word for blot out is from the primary root word machah (maw-kwah) and means to stroke or rub; by implication-to erase; also to smooth (as if with oil); i.e. grease or make fat; also to touch, i.e reach to:--abolish, blot out, destroy, full of marrow, put out, reach unto X utterly, wipe (away, out), exterminate, obliterate (source: Strong's Exhaustive Concordance).

The same word is used in Genesis 7:23, referring to the Flood:

Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out...

We are all familiar with the severity of that Flood. Only 8 people were spared--Noah and his family. God obliterated--destroyed--blotted out--exterminated the entire earth.



Similarly, he does the same with our sin--

He destroys our sin.
He wipes it out. 
He obliterates it.
He erases it.

But look again at the Hebrew meaning of that word---

...to stroke or rub; by implication-to erase; also to smooth (as if with oil); i.e. grease or make fat; also to touch...

He does so lovingly. 

Think of how a rock is polished and smoothed. An ugly rock becomes beautiful when it is oiled, smoothed, and polished. The ugliness is erased and destroyed, and a beautiful shine emanates from it. 



That is what God does with us and the effects of the sin that we long to nurture and caress. He gently takes it from our clutches, and obliterates, destroys, and exterminates it--then anoints us with the oil of gladness, rubs us smooth, and makes us shine. 

I believe that the way God covered the earth with water in order to obliterate sin was a foreshadowing of the way our Savior's blood covered the cross in order to destroy sin forever.



If we want to live in true freedom from sin, we must stop caressing the shame, blame, and guilt of sin redeemed and allow God to completely and lovingly obliterate it from our lives. We must accept His mercy and grace. Only and until then will we truly understand forgiveness.

What are you holding on to? Why not let it go now?

Here's a challenge to take this one step further:

If God can do this for you, can you extend it to someone else--someone you've been holding a grudge against, someone whose "sin" (real or perceived) against you has kept you in unforgiveness toward that person? Have you been nurturing blame, feeding shame, or doling out extra helpings of guilt to someone in an attempt to remind them of how much they hurt you? If God obliterated your sin, he destroyed theirs too. Isn't it time to release them from your bondage, since that is not your right?

Enjoy this wonderfully uplifting video by Laura Story (Grace)

Blessings Along the Path,
Mare




18 comments:

  1. Yes, yes! Several years ago, I spent a very long time wallowing in self-guilt over a past sin. I had confessed, repented, and asked for God'd forgiveness. I knew He had forgiven me, but I could not forgive myself. I finally realized that holding on, after God had forgiven me, was really pride - just like you so insightfully pointed out. That's when I began the work of internalizing God's forgiveness.

    God does not condemn, but uses the Holy Spirit to convict us. And conviction moves us to action - confess, repent. Guilt is a tool of the enemy, a manifestation of pride, and it paralyzes us.

    I finally realized that letting go of my self-guilt was the only way to let God's grace and forgiveness do its work in my soul.

    I'm not holding on to this sin, but I am sometimes tempted to take up the guilt again. It is then that I remember this verse:

    "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." (Hebrews 8:12, NIV)

    NO. MORE.

    Like Paul, sometimes we need to *forget the past* and press on to the prize.

    GOD BLESS!

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Sharon. I think we all have that sin that we think is unforgivable-for others, yes, but not for us. We must work harder, pray more, etc in order to truly be released. That puts us into perfectionism--another story. Glad you were able to let yours go. I think I've let go of mine too.

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  2. His forgiveness is absolutely amazing and beyond anything that we can comprehend as mortals who keep score and hold grudges. Thanks for pouring out this treasure from scripture!

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    1. It truly is, Michele. And it's also something that we as humans (as you say) undervalue and underestimate the power of. Thanks for stopping in.

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  3. I was reminded this week that Jesus forgave an impossible debt I had, so I should forgive the lesser debt that others owe to me. Forgiveness is not easy but so necessary. Thank you for including this post in the #RaRaLinkup

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    1. That's so good, Katie! Thanks for sharing that and for popping over.

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  4. Mary, great truths, awesome Savior! Bless you!

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  5. This is really thought-provoking. I must admit it has been a problem for me. I hold on not only to other people's sin against me but I hold myself responsible for allowing it. I kept myself in prison in unforgiveness. God set me free eventually though.

    This is beautiful and inspiring.

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    1. As I was writing it, I was getting that insight, Lux---that we not only hold on to other people's sins against us, but we hold on to our own against God, and the guilt of allowing it, as you say. It truly is a wonderful feeling to be set free of that. Thank you for stopping in to visit. I love that we can have all these friends from all over the world!

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  6. Very powerful, Mary. There are so many people that won't receive the forgiveness that Christ extends to them and not just in a salvation sense but in a personal sense. So they continue to hold on to bitterness against themselves, as you've said so eloquently here. I love the metaphor you've used to demonstrate to us how God rubs out our sins. I want my life to be liked those smooth shiny stones, Mary! But that means letting go of my shame and letting His forgiveness and mercy come rushing in! Lovely!

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    1. Thank you for you ever encouraging words, Beth.

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  7. Mary, thank you for the blessing of your words and for encouraging us to forgive ourselves and others as Christ has forgiven us. It's a joy to be following you at Katie's this week. May God bless you!

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    1. Thank you for stopping in to visit, Julie.

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  8. Thank you Mary. Your words bless and release. Neighbor at Missional Women today. May I invite you to share your words at DanceWithJesus linkup at SusanBMead.com/blog if you haven't already? Bless someone there!

    Warmly,

    Susan

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  9. I appreciate your thoughts here, and I understand what you're trying to express. But I've found this idea of self-forgiveness is more a cultural one than a biblical one. I haven't found any references to self-forgiveness or examples of it in the Bible - though if you know of some, please share them with me! I believe what's important is that we focus on receiving and believing God's forgiveness through Christ - as you stated toward the end of your post, "we must accept His mercy and grace." Knowing that God forgives us is one thing; believing that we, personally, have been forgiven by God is quite another. Only then will we be able to kick shame and guilt to the curb. :)

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    1. I appreciate your thoughts, Jennifer, and I understand what you are saying as well. I think the point here is what we both agree on--that it is only through accepting the mercy and grace of our Savior's act of forgiveness through his death on the cross that we can truly let go of the guilt of our sin. If we are still beating ourselves up over a past sin that we know has been forgiven, then we have only partially accepted that mercy, grace, and forgiveness--meaning that we do not deem ourselves worthy of it. And if Jesus willingly went to the cross for me, then he deemed me worthy. That holding on to sin, that nurturing it is what I mean by not forgiving ourselves. And only the Holy Spirit can move in our hearts to help us to grasp that forgiveness. Thank you for your challenging words, communicated so well.

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