Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,”Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin." John 8:10-11
I receive emails and comments all the time from people who look through the older postings hoping to see something that pertains to them. It just so happens that I recently received a message from a woman who confessed she had previously been unfaithful to her husband. Not too long ago I spoke with someone who admitted for the first time that she had an abortion, and yet another told me she had been intimate with many men. All of these actions took place before they were Christians and yet all of these women struggled with remaining guilt and shame. None of them said they experienced freedom in their Christian lives, and they all said they felt used, dirty and damaged.
Such is the state of our world. In this generation where culture says sex is just the satisfaction of physical urges and women and men offer their bodies to be used by one another, some are realizing there is a price to be paid.
Each of these women told me that they cannot forgive themselves for their past sins, and in the case of the woman who had the abortion, she says she cannot forgive herself of killing the child. They are all now church-going women who hide behind a mask of having it all together as Christians, but they live in absolute fear of being exposed. They fear someone, anyone finding out who they are and what they have done. They may attend your Bible study or small group or prayer circle but let me assure you, they are very alone, trapped in a secret world of pain.
Their hours of isolation are spent in self-condemnation. None of them understand how God can love them, and at least one of the women does not believe God has completely forgiven her. She waits to be diagnosed with cancer or punished in some way for her past sin. One has tried to end her own life and the other two are on psychotropic medications for depression and anxiety.
Each woman spends time doing penance of various kinds. One promotes marriage weekends, another volunteers at the crisis pregnancy center, and the last one works in youth group hoping to steer young woman away from the path of promiscuity. They wrongly think that some sort of restitution is needed and required by God for forgiveness, and they say they hope it will help them forgive themselves.
The teaching of forgiving yourself is not a biblical principle. Nowhere in the Bible do we find Jesus telling anyone to forgive themselves. To ever think that you can add anything to His payment for your sin or to think you’re your self abuse will obtain forgiveness is blasphemy. I understand, it sounds too easy! You feel like you must do something, you think you must pay a price or have a penalty- something! Let me assure you, that if you have truly accepted the Lord Jesus as your Lord and Savior it has all been done. There is nothing you need to do, nothing you need to add, no more is to be added to His complete and perfect sacrifice.
Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying,
"This is the covenant that I will make with them After those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws upon their heart, And on their mind I will write them,” He then says, “And their sins and their lawless Deeds I will remember no more.” Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin. Hebrews 10:11-18
If we must add to His sacrifice or do some additional penance, then Jesus’ sacrifice was incomplete, our redemption is not assured and God is a liar. The guilty feelings that you hang on to that you somehow believe will help atone for your sin are actually actually adding the sin of unbelief to your heart and life!
The women I wrote about today have read the account of the adulterous woman in John 8, are familiar with the prostitute, and the woman who wept at the feet of Jesus. They understand that none of these women in the Bible asked Jesus how to forgive herself, each one sought His forgiveness. When they received it, they obeyed His command to sin no more in this manner. They became His followers and lived their lives for Him. The women who wrote me just don't think that what the Bible says about forgiveness applies to themselves, complete forgiveness by faith is only for other people who have not done the things they have done.
My encouragement to those women and to you is to learn a lot from our biblical predecessors. When they met Jesus and heard His words their immediate response to Jesus was to weep with thanksgiving at being completely forgiven. They believed and understood that when Jesus forgave them it was done. His forgiveness was complete and total. Likewise, when He forgave you it was finished, the ransom was paid, and you were freed!
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1 (NASB)
Like these dear women, perhaps you need to realize that your help, hope and healing are complete in Christ.
The Christmas story is the beginning of our redemptive story. That is why we say that Jesus is the reason for the season.