Whenever I speak on the subject of forgiveness, invariably someone will tell me, “I’ve never been able to forgive myself for what I’ve done.” Interestingly, the Bible never speaks of the need to forgive ourselves. But I think what many of these women are really saying is that they have never been able to feel forgiven for what they have done. They are still carrying a sense of guilt and shame over their failure.
Though they know that God can forgive them, deep down they do not believe they are truly, fully forgiven. They find it difficult to accept God’s mercy and forgiveness. They feel that in order to be restored into favor and fellowship with God, there is something further they must do to atone for their sin.
The problem is that a lifetime of “good deeds” is not sufficient to deal with the guilt of even one sin against a holy God. Like a stubborn stain that no dry cleaner can remove, sin makes a stain that cannot be washed away by any amount of human effort. There is only one “solution” that can deal with the guilt of our sin—the blood of Jesus.
“My sin isn’t really that bad,” and “God can’t forgive what I have done”—the truth about both of these lies is revealed at Calvary. In Psalm 85:10 (KJV), we find a beautiful description of the Lord Jesus and what He did for us on the cross:
“Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.”
At Calvary, God’s mercy and love for sinners and the truth of His holy hatred for sin found a meeting place. At Calvary, God heaped upon Jesus all the punishment for all the sin of the world. At the same time, He offered peace and reconciliation to sinners who had been estranged from Him. The cross shows us in the starkest possible terms what God thinks of our sin; it reveals the incredible cost He paid to redeem us from those “weaknesses” that we trivialize in our minds. The cross also displays in brilliant color the love and mercy of God for even the “chief of sinners.”