“Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you? No one, sir, she said. Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:10-11)
As I was praying in the Holy Ghost this morning, the Spirit began to fill my mind with scriptures; many concerning something I have been struggling with a very long time. I have a mental reservoir, a sort of mental trash basket that I have to empty often. Though I seek the Lord daily in sincere repentance, often I have failed to empty myself of the dreaded self-condemnation. Not completely. Sometimes I hold that lid on tightly …..
I am haunted by guilt and shame. Haunted by mistakes that are no longer remembered by a holy God. Haunted by sins that have been cast as far as the east is from the west. And certainly haunted by painful memories, certainly accusing memories …
“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.” (Psalm 103:11-13)
These memories haunt me regularly like a spine-chilling horror film monster. As much as I would like to move forward in forgiveness, sometimes I just can’t seem to find the courage to scare the monster away ….
In the New Testament book of (John, chapter 8), we meet a woman caught in the act of adultery. The legalistic teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought her before Jesus. They publicly humiliated her in front of all the town’s people, saying to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” (John 8:4-5)
Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground with His finger as they continued to question him. Finally, He straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. (v. 7-8).
The crowd eventually thinned to nothing. The older, wiser men cleared first. Then the younger ones trickled away. When the adulterous woman and Jesus were the only ones remaining: Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin” (v.10-12).
My friends, do you see that our Lord delights to show us mercy? He does not condemn us as we deserve. The woman in this story was guilty when she was brought to face Jesus, but as she left His presence, her guilt was forgiven. Her shame was absolved …..
When we turn to face Jesus with repentant hearts, our guilt is forgiven as well. This account of the adulterous woman teaches us about forgiveness and about judging and condemning others. But what does this lesson teach us about judging ourselves? I think I am my own worst enemy because I judge myself far worse than probably anyone ever judges me ….
While my mental trash basket contains junk from other people, the lingering condemnation comes from memories of decisions I’ve made, of things I’ve done, and most certainly the brokenness I have experienced because of my own poor choices. In my heart, I accept the forgiveness of Jesus, but in many ways I struggle with how to forgive myself ….
So many women, and certainly men too won’t forgive themselves. I know that self-loathing. I’ve lived it. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that forgiving yourself is easy. It’s hard; very hard and, in a lot of ways, it should be! It makes me diligent to seek Him everyday. But I can testify that it hasn’t been until I began to prayerfully allow the strong, and very unconditional love of Jesus to pry my fingers off the lid of my trash basket and begin to empty the condemning contents, that I have finally began to experience true freedom and forgiveness ….
Restoration and healing aren’t always an immediate outcome, especially when dealing with deep trauma and wounds to the soul, but it is a process, and one that such wounded souls must commit to embark on daily in order to be made whole on their journey ….
Healing is promised, and our Lord assures us He will never leave us nor forsake us along our journeys. He promises beauty for ashes, and joy for mourning. He will provide for those who grieve, as it is written: “to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.” (Isaiah 61:3)
In conclusion, is there something that you have not been able to forgive yourself for? My friend, we need to stop beating ourselves up for sins of our past. We must stop allowing guilt and shame to chain us to unproductive living. Jesus humbled Himself by becoming human, endured an excruciating death, and then defied the grave in His resurrection so that we could be restored to a place of complete healing. Yes, absolute complete healing ….
(2 Corinthians 5:21) states that “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
If you are in Christ, the Bible says that your guilt was paid for on the cross of Calvary. Jesus carried the sins of the world on His shoulders so that you would not have to carry them on yours ….
If you are holding on to un-confessed sin, the time has come for you to release your grip. God’s Word promises that, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
None of us are perfect, just perfectly forgiven in Christ.
Take your hand off the lid and allow the Lord to empty your trash basket of every last condemning voice once and for all. Embrace the freedom that Jesus intends for you to live in. You will become beautifully broken in Him and through Him as you humble yourselves, and then the rebuilding process truly begins ….
Let us pray ~
Holy Father, Your mercy defies logic. I don’t deserve it, and I don’t understand how You could possibly forgive me for all that I have done. Please take my trash basket and empty it. Forgive me today and help me to forgive myself, and others, so I can live freely in Your amazing grace.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen ….