Do you keep playing your sins over and over in your head? Are you living with the guilt and shame of what you’ve done? Today we’re going to talk about how to forgive yourself for past mistakes and start living in the freedom of forgiveness.
We know the bible tells us we’ve been forgiven, so it certainly raises the question, if Jesus has already paid the price for your sin, why are you still living in it?
If only it were that simple, right?
[Scroll down to watch the video, How to Forgive Yourself and Find Freedom from Your Past]
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God has forgiven you
I have what I’d consider a bad memory. I have many things in my past that I just can’t remember, and it’s incredibly frustrating.
But man oh man, when it comes to my past, I can recall every one of my mistakes and bad choices.
Do you have things in your past that you just can’t let go? Things that make you feel you have to live in shame for the rest of your life?
I think that’s where we have trouble.
We think because we’ve done wrong, we owe it to God to sit in the guilt and shame of our past. Because then, perhaps Jesus will know how sorry we really are.
I personally, can give you a list a mile long of things I’ve done, and some of it is pretty awful!
And like you, I’ve continued to play the “shame game” for far too long. But as we learned earlier in this forgiveness series, those lies are half-truths from Satan.
You see, Satan’s #1 goal is to isolate us and make us feel alone, so he uses our past mistakes to make us feel that God could never forgive someone like us.
In Isaiah, Chapter 43, God tells Isaiah that He will usher in a new covenant and with that new covenant, Jesus will come and blot out all of our sins — and never remember them again.
I, yes I, am the One and Only, who completely erases your sins, never to be seen again.I will not remember them again. Freely I do this because of who I am! Isaiah 43:25 TPT
God has already forgotten your past, so again I ask, why are you still living in it?
Forgiving yourself for past behavior
A while ago, I was listening to The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey, when she and her guest were talking about forgiving ourselves.
Jaime (or maybe it was her guest) said, “Do we think we’re bigger than Jesus?”
Whoa…of course we don’t!
Yet, when we continue to sit in the pain of our past mistakes, it’s essentially what we’re saying!
God has already forgiven us, but we’re still sitting in it!
It sounds absurd when we think about it that way, doesn’t it?
In other words, if God, who is greater than you, has already forgiven you, who are you not to forgive yourself?
Letting go of past mistakes and guilt
It’s time to let it go. It’s time to move past your guilt and shame, accept His forgiveness and begin living this life God you created you for!
Jesus already knows how sorry you are, so when you lean into Him, He’ll take your mistakes and bring something beautiful out of them.
Your past mistakes should guide you, not define you.
Don’t become a hostage to your past.
Instead, change the way you think about it and turn your mistakes into an opportunity to learn. A chance to allow God’s glory to shine through you.
Why you have to forgive yourself for past mistakes
What seems like a life-time ago, I was driving to work and something took me back to some of my past mistakes. I began to play them my head, and I started berating myself, again, for the choices I made years ago.
And then, right there on a HUGE billboard, it read,
“God is not mad at you! No matter what you’ve done!”
Now that’s only something God could do – put a billboard in my path right when I needed it! All I could do was look up, shake my head, and say, “O.k. God, I’m listening!”
Guilt is toxic and when you’re living with that mess, you can’t shine for Jesus! You can’t fulfill your ultimate calling when you’re chained and hindered by the sin. You can’t move forward and do His work.
So it’s time to stop remembering what God has already forgotten.
You may have sinned, my friend, but you are not that sin. You may have made a bad choice, but you are not a bad person.
Here’s the thing.
Jesus didn’t save you so you could walk around in shame.
He saved you so you could be free. So that you could be a blessing to others and serve out His purpose for you.
The Bible is filled with stories of forgiveness. It shows us how even when people sinned, God still used them.
Take Paul for instance. This man persecuted Christians! He intentionally worked against Jesus!
But God didn’t stop loving him. In fact, God used Paul to change the world!
Now does that sound like a God who couldn’t forgive what you’ve done?
Forgiving yourself for past behavior
We’ve all sinned. We’ve wasted time wishing we could go back and rewrite the past.
The great news is, your story isn’t finished!
You can stop living in shame and change your future.
You see, we serve a God whose faithfulness is bigger than our sins. His unconditional love is greater than our past mistakes.
Can I just get an amen here?
How to forgive yourself for past mistakes
But how do you walk this out? How do you forgive yourself for past sins and live in the freedom God has offered you?
By accepting His grace and forgiveness.
You get that new future when you turn to God and do these three things.
- Confess — Go to God and confess that you’ve sinned. Remember, God already knows what you did and still chose to send His Son for you. Guilt and shame don’t come from God, so there’s no reason to keep hiding from Him.
- Repent — Tell God how sorry you are. Tell Him you want to be free from your past sins and mistakes.
- Forgive — Ask God for His forgiveness. Remember, He forgives us because of His great mercy and faithfulness. Not because of anything we have or haven’t done.
It’s important to remember that walking through forgiveness will, most likely, take time. It’s typically not a one – and done thing.
However, you keep choosing to forgive yourself. And each time you choose this, you’ll grow stronger and stronger.
Every time you choose to forgive yourself, you’ll experience more and more of God’s great love for you.
How to forgive yourself wrap up
So, my friend, my challenge for you this week is that every time you start to feel guilt and shame, stop and pray. You can say something like,
“Jesus, thank you for already forgiving me. Please help me let this go. Teach me how I can live differently and use my past mistakes to shine for you and your glory.”
Stop remembering what God has already forgotten, and break those chains of guilt and shame!
Forgive yourself and walk in the freedom of His forgiveness.
I’d love to help you.
Email me and tell me how I can stand beside you in prayer, because we know that where two or more are gathered in His name, He will be with us.
“For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” Matthew 18:20 NLT
Also, be sure to grab my free Prayers to Help You Forgive from the FOI Community Library. Simply sign-up below and I’ll send you the password to get in.
Friend, you are forgiven!
So stand up and take that first step to forgiveness by confessing your sin to God today!
Until next time, my friend……..
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Learning how to put our complete trust in God isn’t easy. We say we trust God, but what we really mean is that we trust Him for what we want, when we want it. At Footprints of Inspiration we uncover who you are and why you were created; how to walk in healing through forgiveness; and how to go before the Lord with confidence. Through this journey, you’ll discover that it truly is possible to experience peace, even in the hardest times in your life.
Tammy Rotzoll is the founder and owner of Footprints of Inspiration and podcast host at A Faithful God Podcast (which can be found on your favorite podcast player). She lives in Virginia with her husband and together they’re learning how to navigate their fun, new adventure as empty nesters.
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