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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
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His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
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[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
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Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
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Monday, May 04, 2009
BUNK: I Can Forgive Others, But I Can't Forgive Myself...
The more serious you are about the Lord the more you are going to loathe the sin in your life. That's not a bad thing, it's a good thing. Sin is rebellion, and the conviction we feel when we want to sin is the ministry of the Holy Spirit who, having informed our conscience through God's word, uses our conscience to lead us away from an act of rebellion. If we obey what we know is right, then we are walking in the Spirit, and if we transgress what we know is right, we are grieving the Spirit.

As we continue to grieve the Holy Spirit in some area by transgressing our conscience, that same conscience becomes "seared". A seared conscience is one that has been trained to ignore the Holy Spirit in some area of our life.

If Christ is in us, we know full well those areas of our lives where we have learned to obey, and perhaps more sharply, those areas where we continue to transgress, and thereby grieve the Holy Spirit of God.

Here is where this "I can't forgive myself" stuff comes into play. The enemy uses the guilt we feel over our consistent failures to convince us that God cannot really forgive us until we really, really, really, overcome whatever particular sin is presently at the center of our struggle.

Now, for some people this tactic is more effective than for others, and this has a lot to do with the way each person was raised.

To skip all the psychobabble, some of us were brought up in by parents who used guilt and degradation as tools to provoke obedience: If these were disobedient, they were made to understand that their disobedience demonstrated a lack of gratitude, love, and appreciation. They were, to use a Christian theme, out of fellowship with their parents, and in need of reconciliation to restore that fellowship. They were made to feel guilt in order to produce a conciliatory response of obedience, and when they obeyed they were reconciled.

The problem with that is that it places the onus of reconciliation on the offender who must purchase forgiveness through obedience - a model that is quite contrary to the way God deals with us.

Jesus Christ is our reconciliation. We are reconciled, not by obedience, but by and through faith - and it happens at the moment we are saved, and we don't get any more reconciled after that. We can't increase our reconciliation by being righteous after we are saved, nor can we diminish it by sinning after we are saved. We are reconciled to God in Christ, and if we feel we cannot forgive ourselves it is because we are endeavoring to do what only Christ could do, and what Christ has already done - and we are doing it because we believe that once we have sinned, we need to make it right again by performing some penitent act whereby we are once again welcomed into God's grace.

Here is where the bunk comes in.

The person who is not willing to forgive himself is really not willing trust God. He simply refuses to believe that his relationship with God is brokered by and through the life of Jesus Christ. He wants to be his own mediator between himself and God - and until he can broker a deal, he is unwilling to accept the forgiveness that is already there.

Just as our upbringing can promote this effect, so too our theology can as well.

Sin does not break our fellowship with God. How could God (in the person of the Holy Spirit) ever convict us of sin if God abandoned us the moment we sinned? How could Christ mediate for us at the right hand of God if the moment we sinned we were suddenly shunned? Listen: Either God is for us, or He is against us, he is not flipping and flopping on account of our sin, especially given that it is He, and not us, Who is saving us from our sin.

Let's be clear here: God cannot look upon evil with favor (c.f. Habakkuk 1:13), but it is wrong to apply that so that idea if it makes God schizophrenic. Yes, God will not favor evil, but that doesn't mean that the moment the Christian commits sin, that God throws up his hands and abandons the Christian until such time as they can (in their own strength no less!) return to Him by and through obedience. Look, you cannot obey unless God is with you, and you certainly cannot restore yourself to God in your own strength if somehow you were separated from him. Your sin is evil, God takes no pleasure in it - but your relationship with God is through Christ and not through your own efforts - and that means that even your failures big or small cannot undo what Christ, by the giving of His life, has done.

The whole idea of not being able to forgive yourself is founded upon bad an exalting of self over the doctrines of scripture. If you can't forgive yourself, it isn't because you are holy, holy, holy - it is because you are ignorant and unbelieving; you refuse to accept the magnitude of God's work, either because you are blind, or because you are mistaken, but the solution is the same: Read the bible and learn that God is for you, not against you. You unwillingness to forgive yourself is an act of rebellion and pride, casting the work of Christ into the mud, and replacing it with self righteousness. Get over yourself sinner, and accept Christ fully.

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posted by Daniel @ 9:07 AM  
3 Comments:
  • At 11:14 AM, May 04, 2009, Blogger David Kjos said…

    I think the whole notion of self-forgiveness is bunk. I.e., that we are in a position in which that is necessary or possible. It's rather like a fish complaining that he can't preen his feathers.

     
  • At 11:21 AM, May 04, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    David, I agree.

     
  • At 12:33 PM, May 04, 2009, Blogger mag said…

    Thank you for explaining this so clearly - I needed to hear this message. The sinful nature is so persistent, always trying to take back the reins from God. I think it often doesn't occur to us that that's what we're doing, but when someone points it out, it's clear how ridiculous it is.
    I always am edified by your writing, but haven't said so. Thank you.

     
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