Girlfriends in God - November 17, 2011


November 17, 2011
To Forgive or Not Forgive
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
But if we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins, because we can trust God to do what is right. He will cleanse us from all the wrongs we have done (1 John 1:9, NCV).

Friend to Friend
Music has always been an important part of my life. In fact, I attended college on a music scholarship. The piano was my main instrument, but I also wanted to be a guitarist. Since I had played the piano for so many years, the musical challenge of playing the guitar was not my problem. It was my fingers. After two guitar lessons from a very patient friend and several hours of practicing, my fingertips were sore and raw to the point of bleeding. When I asked my friend what I was doing wrong, he just laughed and held out his hands, showing me the rough calluses on his own fingers. "When I began playing the guitar, my fingers were just as sore and raw as yours are now. Just keep playing, and your fingers will eventually develop calluses and it won't hurt to play," he explained.

Sin works the same way. The first time we commit a sin it really bothers us. We feel guilty and mourn the fact that we have grieved the heart of God. However, if we allow sin to settle into our lives by refusing to confess it, that sin hardens our heart and builds spiritual calluses in our soul. When we become comfortable with our sin, we are walking in enemy territory and setting ourselves up for spiritual discouragement and failure.

1 John 1:9 says "But if we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins, because we can trust God to do what is right. He will cleanse us from all the wrongs we have done" (NCV).

This verse was written to believers as an encouragement to deal with sin and a promise that when we do so, God will be faithful to forgive us and clean up the mess that sin has caused. To fully experience the forgiveness of God, we need to keep short books on sin. That not only means being sensitive to sin but being willing to do something about it. God is serious about sin. We need to be as well.

1.    We must confess sin continually. "Confess" means to agree with. It is a present tense verb meaning we must confess sin frequently - without stopping. Doing so makes us more sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and creates a hunger and thirst for righteousness.

2.   We must confess sin completely.We commit individual sins. We need to confess them one-by-one and learn to be authentic and transparent when dealing with the sin in our lives.

3.    We must confess sin confidently.Once we confess our sins, we can put them behind us. God is just and fair -- seeking only one payment for sin. Jesus has already made that full and complete payment with His death on the cross. If we refuse to forgive ourselves, we are saying that what Jesus did on the cross was not enough. I love the story of a little boy standing in front of the Washington Monument. “I want to buy it, and I have a quarter,” he told the guard. “That’s not enough,” the guard said.  The little boy replied, “I thought you would say that,” pulling nine more cents out of his pocket. The guard looked down at the small boy and said, “Son, you need to understand three things. First, thirty-four cents is not enough. Second, the Washington Monument is not for sale. And third, if you are an American citizen, the Washington Monument already belongs to you.” We need to understand three things about God’s forgiveness. We will never be good enough to deserve it. It is not for sale and we cannot earn it. But if we have a personal relationship with God, His forgiveness already belongs to us. 

One of Satan's favorite tactics is to resurrect buried sin. Wrapping that confessed transgression in his vain taunts and useless accusations, the enemy hauls it back into focus, hoping guilt will paralyze and imprison a soul set free.

How often do we believe Satan’s empty lies and choose to remain a prisoner of false guilt and condemnation? To break the hold of sin, we must stand against the enemy, choose to trust the Word of God and embrace the promise that when we confess sin, God forgives it.

Let’s Pray
Father, do not let me ever forget the price You paid for my sin. Thank You for the forgiveness and freedom You purchased with Your death on the cross. Bring swift awareness and conviction to my heart and life when I sin. Give me the strength and power to deal with and turn from my sin.
In Jesus’ name I pray,

Now It’s Your Turn
Read and meditate on the following verses:

Matthew 5:23-24 (NLT) "So if you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you … leave your sacrifice there beside the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.”

Colossians 1:13-14 (NIV) “For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” 

Make a list of the sins in your life that need the forgiveness of God.  Ask God to forgive you for each one. If you have sinned against someone else, take the first step of reconciliation.  If someone has sinned against you, forgive them and go to them in love, seeking restoration.

What are the rewards of forgiveness?
What are the barriers to forgiveness in my heart?
What are the things for which I cannot forgive myself?
What does that indicate about my understanding of true forgiveness?
Celebrate right now the power of forgiveness in your life.

More from the Girlfriends
Already feeling the stress of the approaching holidays? Get Mary’s book, Escaping the Stress Trap, for practical steps to dealing with and managing stress and check out her MP3, The Secret of a Merry Christmas. Need a friend? Connect with Mary on Facebook- or through email. Need help learning how to study the Bible? Join women across the world in Mary’s weekly online Bible Study, Light for the Journey.

"I am flat broke and Christmas is just around the corner!" Do those words sound familiar? Don't let gift-giving become a chore instead of a joy. Get Mary’s MP3 download - Giving the Perfect Gift-and discover how to give ten wonderful and inexpensive gifts. 

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Originally published Thursday, 17 November 2011.