If you confess your sins with a truly repentant heart, He will fully forgive you.
I can hear your thought response, again. "Yes, I know that. I learned that in Sunday School in Kindergarten. Or I learned that on the first day of Christianity 101. Certainly you must have found something in your "promises of God" theology with more insight that that!
And yes, there is more to grasp than just that! Grasp this! When God forgives you; He fully forgives you!
Do you know what fully implies? Do you know what it truly means for you?
The Bible tells us that not only does He forgive you, but He remembers your sins no more! And that is a promise. A promise you can claim. Now of course, God can remember your sins, as He is all-knowing and not forgetful; but instead, He purposely chooses not to remember your sins.
"And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins." - Isaiah 43:25 and Hebrews 8:12 (NLT)
Notice that God spoke this in the future tense. He was speaking of the new covenant that would be in place after Christ's death. So yes, this is a genuine promise we can claim.
The Bible also tells us this:
"He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west." - Psalms 103:12
Again, this is a genuine promise of God we can claim. If we authentically confess and repent of our sins, then He will forgive us. Fully.
And this means -- that you are no longer required to punish yourself in your own mind.
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I will go so far to say that if you are continuing to commiserate, to replay past events in your mind, or to mentally punish yourself over sins you have truly confessed to Him - then you are actually not in line with God's will for you in that particular thought place in your life.
Because if God is choosing to forget your past sins; and if He is choosing to set them apart from you as far as the east is from the west...
Then it is not God who is causing you or wanting you to replay those past events in your mind.
We cannot be our best for Him if we are wallowing in past regrets -- regrets that have already been forgiven.
Think of a loving parent and a child. The child is careless and accidentally breaks his mother's favorite vase. The child realizes what he has done and realizes it happened due to his carelessness. The child realizes he has caused this, and he starts crying and is truly sorry, and cries out, "I'm so sorry mommy; it was my fault; I was so careless, I'm so sorry!"
And his mother forgives him. Completely.
Now, do you know what that loving mother will do if that child keeps crying for hours or days over what he did? Do you know how frustrated she will become if that child takes an hour every week for the purpose of commiserating over the broken vase? What will she do if her child keeps coming to her, multiple times a month over the next 3 to five years and keeps re-apologizing and tells her how he so wishes things had been different on that day, the day he broke the vase due to his carelessness?
That mother is going to tell her son. "Listen to me. Stop this! I forgave you as soon as you demonstrated you were truly sorry and would be more careful in the future! It is actually frustrating to me that you keep bringing this issue up and apologizing for it over and over. It has been three years now! Do you not understand how much I love you? Do you not trust that I actually forgave you? This actually saddens me, because you seem to believe that I am still holding a grudge and wanting to punish you for that past. Why are you spending an hour every week, or even a minute every week, dwelling on this past broken vase? Your commiserating is not good for you; and it is not good for us! I now command you child, to let these guilty, wishful thoughts go and to no longer dwell on them! It is not what I want for you! It is not what I desire for you! It is not my will for you! It is not good for you! Let it go! For your own future, let it go! Live in the blessing of knowing you have been fully forgiven, and of knowing I have chosen to forget about it."
I think that simple little story should illuminate why -- just as the mother does not want her son to live in such a manner -- it is not the will of God for us to similarily wallow in past regrets. As Paul exemplified, the will of God is for us to choose to forget "what lies behind" and reach "forward to what lies ahead." (NAS)
And just in case you think your past sin was so big that you are an exception, remember what Paul's sin was. Murder. Hate crimes. Paul later went on to say that he knew he had been one of the worst sinners in the whole world - even the worst of all! (1 Timothy 1:15) But Paul goes on to say:
But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. - 1 Timothy 1:16 (NLT)
If Paul could stop dwelling on his mega-sins, then you can certainly stop punishing yourself for losing your temper last week. Or for a past dependence on alcohol. Or for past promiscuities. Or for past infractions of the law. Or for whatever is in your past that you just have to keep bringing to your mind -- whatever it is that replays in your mind and tells you, "I am not worthy because of what I did." You can just let that go. God wants you to let it go.
The will of God is for us to no longer dwell in thought of guilt about our past after we have repented. This is a promise we can claim, a genuine promise we can claim, based on the very nature of God. And if this is true, then it must logically follow that if we continue to wallow in past guilt over things we have authentically confessed and repented, then we are actually choosing to camp out outside of God's will in that area of our thought life.
You are free to stop replaying past events in your head. You are free to stop feeling guilty. You are free to forget what is past and to move ahead. This may not be a promise of earthly wealth. But spiritually and psychologically, it is truly a greater promise.
When you grasp this truth -- it will set you free in your mind. Stop feeling guilty for the past -- when you have repented of it -- and use that time instead to build your relationship and your purpose that is within God's will for you. Let it go, completely, just as God separated it so far from you that you cannot measure this distance. This is a truth that you can know; this is a truth that will set your mind free -- fully free -- to dwell on where He wants you to go.
"And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
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