Forgiveness and Reconciliation
What is Sin?
Matthew 22:37-40, "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
Anything that violates those two key commandments is a sin.
The Need for Forgiveness
When we commit sin, we put up a wall between ourselves and God. God loves us deeply, but He hates sin so much that it causes separation between man and God. Our sins are so great, that we cannot possibly repay them. The good news is that His love for us is so great, that He sent His only begotten Son to die on the cross as payment for our sins. The only way our sins can be forgiven, is when we receive the gift that His Son has given us on the cross.
Forgiveness and reconciliation is the most important part of the gospel. Without forgiveness of our sins, we face eternal separation from God. Anybody who dies who is separated from God, goes to a place of eternal punishment called hell; a place where there is no relief from the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:15).
When a person sins against us, the enemy loves to place within us a wall against that person; a roadblock in our way of loving that person as Christ loved us. Forgiveness is basically a choice that we make to destroy that roadblock that is in our way of loving them as Christ loved us.
Jesus died to tear down the roadblocks caused by our sin between us and God, and we are required to do the same to those who wrong us (Matthew 6:15).
Seeking to restore a relationship
There may be times when we need to attempt to restore a broken relationship with another person. Jesus told us to love one another as Christ has loved us, and sometimes this may involve going to the person and telling them that you regret what you've done, and attempt to restore the relationship.
Matthew 5:23-24, "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift."
If you have wronged somebody and it has caused them to have something against you, then doesn't it seem right to go to that person and try make things right? Remember, your goal isn't to rush into the room, yell, "I'm sorry!" and run away... your goal is to be reconciled with that person.
Matthew 7:12, "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets."
It's a lot easier to forgive somebody when they come to us and confess their sin. When you go to somebody and ask for their forgiveness, what you are doing is helping them to break down the roadblock that the enemy may have put in their way of loving you as Christ loved them. You are aiding them in removing an obstacle in their life that may be preventing them from living the life that Jesus wants them to live. What your doing is helping to break down a wall that the enemy has tried to setup between you and them.
Now don't take me wrongly... I'm NOT saying that we must go back to everybody we've wronged and apologize for everything we've ever done wrong. That is legalism, and puts an impossible burden on many of us! What I am saying is that there may be times when you may have damaged a relationship with somebody, and it is important to restore it.
Please use common sense and direction of the Holy Spirit, as sometimes it can worse to go to somebody than to just leave it alone. If you wronged a prostitute 5 years ago, and are now happily married to the woman that God's given you... it might do more harm than good to go back to that person and try to be reconciled.
It is often harder to forgive ourselves then to forgive others. But what we must focus on, is that when God has forgiven us, we are CLEAN (Psalms 103:12). We need to stop blaming ourselves for not being good enough, and accept the fact that our sins have been forgiven (1 John 1:9). God Himself doesn't even want to remember our sins (Isaiah 43:25), so why should we? Are we smarter then God to remember something He chooses to forget?
1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
In order to receive forgiveness, we must first recognize that we have sinned, confess our sins, and then believe upon Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins and that what He did on the cross, He did it so that we might be forgiven (Matthew 26:28). Without the blood which Jesus shed on the cross, there is no forgiveness for our sins (Hebrews 9:22).
True repentance includes turning from our sins, and not continuing to walk in them. If you seem to struggle with compulsive sinful habits, you may need to be set free from a demonic influence. It may be necessary to renounce your sins out loud, and command them to leave.
Freedom From Guilt
Guilt can serve two purposes, it can show us the problem so that we might repent and receive forgiveness, or it can rub our mistake in our faces and make us feel hopeless. The Devil is known for putting guilt on people, and is known as the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10).
How can you tell the difference between condemnation (bad for us) and conviction (good for us)?
First, I'd like you to ask yourself, "Why am I feeling guilty? What is the purpose of this guilt?" Of course your feeling guilty because you've probably done something wrong, but there is a reason why your feeling guilty. There is a source or sponsor of your guilt; it could be God or it could be the enemy. God uses guilt to convict us (conviction) of our sins so that we might change and make things better (receive forgiveness), whereas the enemy uses guilt to burden us down and make us feel hopeless about what we have done.
When God convicts us, it's so that we might recognize the problem, and work on fixing it. When the enemy condemns us, it's to make us feel like there's nothing we can do about it, and give us a rotten feeling with no hope. Therefore, ask yourself, "Is this guilt trying to bring me to repentance, or is it trying to tell me what a loser I am?" God doesn't tell us what a loser we are, His desire is rather that we may be reconciled with Him and receive forgiveness from our sins. The enemy likes to show you the mess, while God wants to show you the solution.
If you have sins that you haven't repented from, then by all means, repent and turn from your wicked ways!! Don't try to blame your guilt on the enemy if you know your guilty and you haven't repented of your sins!
If your sins are forgiven (1 John 1:9), and the enemy is burdening you down with guilt, you may have to renounce the spirit of guilt, and command it to leave. Also, resist the Devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7).
A Clean Conscience
It's God's desire for us to believe upon His Son Jesus for the remission of our sins, and to have a clean conscience that has been cut off from our past guilt (Hebrews 9:14, Hebrews 10:2, Hebrews 10:22). He wants to forgive us of our sins for HIS sake (1 John 2:12) and He even chooses not to remember our sins (Isaiah 43:25)!