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Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

How To Be Forgiven by God

Forgiven by God

What does it feel like to be completely forgiven by God?

George Whitefield was an evangelist in England in the 1700’s.

Here’s what he experienced —

But oh!  With what joy — joy unspeakable — even joy that was full of and big with glory, was my soul filled when the weight of sin went off, and an abiding sense of the pardoning love of God broke in upon my disconsolate soul.  (George Whitefield’s Journals, p.58 n.1)

How can that happen?

In the book “Pilgrim’s Progress” a man sets out on a journey with a burden of guilt on his back (see picture).

He visits many different places, but it’s not until he comes to the Cross, and looks by faith upon the Cross, that he is forgiven by God and the burden of guilt falls from his back.

This is something we all can experience — no matter what sin we have committed.

Why?  Because the God who created us loves to forgive us (Jer 33:8).

To do this He sent His own Son, Jesus, to die on the Cross for our sins.  On the Cross, God put the guilt of all our sin on Jesus, and punished Jesus in our place for our sin (Isa 53:5).

So when we turn from our sin and trust Jesus as Savior, Lord, and heart-satisfying Treasure — everything changes.  All our guilt is punished in Jesus, and all Jesus’ perfect goodness is credited to us.

So even though we are not free from sin, God sees us as covered with Jesus’ perfect moral goodness — and God pours His forgiving love into our hearts and our guilt disappears.  The result is joy like George Whitefield experienced.

But there’s a problem.  When we again commit sin, we can lose that feeling of God’s love — and instead feel guilty before God.

So how can we once again be assured that we are forgiven by God?  How can we move back to feeling God’s pardoning love so we no longer feel guilty?  Here’s what helps me —

Turn to Jesus just as you are, and trust Him.

Satan will feed you every lie he’s got to keep you from turning to Jesus — “you’ve got to do something good first,” “you need to feel more spiritual first”.

Don’t fall for it.  Turn directly to Jesus just as you are and trust Him to welcome you, help you, forgive you.

Humble yourself before God as someone who needs undeserved mercy.

This is crucial.  If we try to come to God on the basis of some good we think we have — God will not welcome us.

Because in ourselves, all we deserve from God is punishment for our sins (Luke 18:13-14).

But if we will come to God humbly, as unworthy sinners needing undeserved mercy, He welcomes us with loving compassion.

Confess your sin to God as something that dishonors His infinite goodness.

Don’t just feel bad that you did something shameful, that people know what you did, or that there will be painful consequences.

Join David, who after adultery and murder felt bad that he had sinned against God — “Against you only have I sinned” (Psa 51:4).

Think about how your sin has dishonored the Infinite Glory of the universe (Jer 2:12-13).  Ask God to help you feel some of the horror of what you have done.

Don’t wallow in it.  But feel genuine sorrow for your sin, and tell Him this is how you feel.

Ask God to forgive you through Christ.

How can a just God forgive your sin?  There’s only one way — by punishing it in Jesus on the Cross (Isa 53:6).

Every sin will be punished, either in Jesus’ suffering on the Cross, or in the sinner’s suffering in Hell.

So thank Jesus for His death on the Cross, and ask God to forgive you.  If you are genuinely humbled and trusting Jesus, He will forgive yourunning to you with arms wide open (Luke 15:20).

Trust God’s promise of forgiveness in Christ until you feel His pardoning love.

You can be forgiven by God without feeling His pardoning love.  But much joy comes when we feel it (Psa 51:7-8).

So pray passionately over Scriptures that describes the Cross — such as Matt 26:27-28; Matt 27:54; John 1:29; John 19:30; Gal 2:20; 1Pe 3:18.

Ask God to strengthen your faith (Mark 9:24), to reveal Christ’s work on the Cross to you (2Cor 4:6), and give you full assurance of forgiveness (Rom 4:7-8).

Maybe pray over these things with a trusted brother or sister in Christ (James 5:16).

This may take some time.  You may need to leave off prayer and go to work, or take your kids to soccer.

But as soon as you can, return to praying and trusting God’s Word until you once again feel God’s pardoning love in Jesus Christ.

Don’t be surprised if guilt returns.

After all, Satan is our accuser.  He loves to weigh us down with guilt so God’s love is squeezed out of our hearts — like toothpaste out of a tube.

But Satan can be conquered by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony (Rev 12:11).

So immediately turn back to Jesus.  Call upon Him for help.

Humble yourself as one who needs undeserved mercy.  Confess your sin afresh.  Trust Jesus’ work on the Cross.

By faith alone in Christ alone you are completely forgiven by God.

And as you pray over God’s Word, trusting His promises, He will once again pour His love into your heart and assure you that you are forgiven.

Before you go …

Do you know someone who needs to be forgiven by God?  Email this to them using the “share” button below.

Do you have comments, feedback, or questions?  I’d love to hear them — use the box below.  Thanks.

Would you like to receive a Saturday email summarizing the week’s posts?  Subscribe here.

And here’s some related posts you might find helpful —

 

(Picture is from Wikipedia Commons.)

Category: Being Forgiven by God, Miscellaneous

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18 Responses

  1. Josh Neumann says:

    Steve, I love your blog-thanks for your work.

    Quick question: this doesn’t get talked about much in the New Testament, but it is mentioned in Deuteronomy and Ecclesiastes.

    Basically, I made a stupid, ill-thought out vow to God about a year and a half ago and have yet to follow through with it. I’ve managed to forget about it for the most part, although every time I read Ecclesiastes 5 I’m reminded.

    Should I follow through? I feel like I’ve continued to have a good relationship with God, and hear Him talking to me regularly.

    In other words, I don’t feel like it has come between us, or even that He has impressed on me to follow through. I’ve apologized for making the vow and not following through, so I guess I’m covered until now.

    I’m pretty sure I should based on the Old Testament, but I just wanted to get a confirmation before I do. I think these Old Testament passages still apply to us today; I just wanted your confirmation. Thanks for your input!

    • Steve Fuller says:

      I’ll need to give that some thought, Josh. Would you be comfortable sharing what the vow is? Or you could email me through the “Who — Introducing Me” page on this site. Normally I would assume you should fulfill it — but you mention that it was stupid and ill-thought-out — so maybe that’s a factor.

      And thank you so much for your encouraging words — I’m glad you’ve found this site helpful.

      In Christ,

      Steve

  2. gary says:

    I don’t think i ever felt a prayer was answered in my life until i read this and asked God to make me feel the guilt of my sins when I asked to be forgiven. This just really has a great way of describing what you are really doing when asking for forgiveness, rather than just saying the words and asking… like reading a script “sorry for this sorry for that yada yada yada.” Instead, for whatever reason, it took me until tonight at 28 years old being a born again Christian to really think about what I was asking for and who I was asking. It had become too routine. Thank you for reminding me what I’m really doing when I ask for forgiveness.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Gary,

      Thank you for taking the time to share your story, and for your encouraging words. I, too, have just read the script — and experienced nothing. But what a joy to truly confess to God through Jesus Christ — and feel the guilt lift and the forgiveness come!

      I’m celebrating with you, brother,

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  3. Bamboo says:

    I think there’s a missing last step here…correcting the sins you have committed. I think if you stole something, you have to return what you stole. If you offended someone, you have to seek the person’s forgiveness as well. If you killed someone or hurt someone, go and seek forgiveness from the family so they can also receive the blessings of peace and justice – even if it means you have to go to prison yourself. This should be done before you can truly and authentically say to the Lord that you are sorry for your sins. And yes, with this you will feel His lasting forgiveness.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Bamboo,

      Thanks for your comment. I agree that restitution is an important step, and that willingness to make restitution shows that we are truly sorrow for our sins.

      But I’m not sure I’d say we have to make restitution before we will be fully forgiven. We can be fully forgiven when we look to Him with genuine confession and faith. Yes, that genuine confession will include a willingness to make restitution. But God’s forgiveness does not depend on our act of making restitution.

      Does that sound right to you?

      Blessings,

      Steve Fuller

  4. pamela putumani says:

    I am sooo touched with the truth that I’m reading here. When I first accepted the Lord in my life, I felt a fire I couldn’t explain. I kept crying in the church as the service was continuing, to a point I couldn’t keep still. I wanted the time that the Pastor will tell me to come to the front and accept the Lord!
    My challenge is my everyday sinning! There are things that we do well enough knowing that these are against the Lord. Do we sin and ask 4 forgiveness and over and over again just because He forgives and forgets?
    Do I sin knowing I’m sinning and not stop only to be confidant that I’ll say sorry than He forgives as usual? Is it easy like that?
    When that fire is no longer burning like it used to, how do I regain it?

    I seek to know God more in my life!

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your story, Pamela.

      You raise some really important questions. Here’s some thoughts —

      1. Forgiveness depends on true confession of sin (1 John 1:9), which includes seeing how the sin dishonors God and deserves punishment. So confession means feeling genuine sorrow that we’ve committed the sin.

      2. We can ask for forgiveness again and again, as long as we are genuinely sorry for the sin, long to be freed from it, and are taking steps to fight the fight of faith to overcome it. Every time we genuinely ask for forgiveness, we will be assured that we are completely forgiven through Jesus’ death, because God is that loving and merciful.

      3. If you go ahead and sin because you know you’ll be forgiven — then your heart is in a dangerous place spiritually. That sort of attitude would show that you aren’t fighting sin, aren’t grieved at the dishonor your sin has brought to God, aren’t sorry for the fact that your sin sent Christ to the Cross. So I’d encourage you to earnestly seek the Lord to forgive you and change your heart.

      4. Are you part of a Bible-teaching and living church? Do you have some trusted sisters who could pray with and for you about this? That would be very helpful, I believe.

      And again, thanks for raising such important questions.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  5. Maria says:

    I want to know if God really forgave me for taking someone else’s job, slandering that person. I have asked God to forgive me but I feel the lack of faith.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Maria,

      Thanks for raising a crucial question.

      If in your heart you are telling God that you are genuinely sorry for sinning against Him and for hurting this other person, and if you are turning from that sin and trusting Jesus Christ to forgive you, change you, and help you — then God has fully forgive you. And as you keep trusting Him, in His perfect time He will pour His forgiving love upon you.

      Some important questions to ask are:

      1. Are you fully surrendered to Jesus Christ, or are there areas of your life that you are holding back from Him. You don’t need to be perfect to be forgiven (we aren’t perfect until heaven). But you do need to be fully surrendered to Jesus Christ.

      2. Are you seeing yourself as a sinner who brings nothing good to the table, who deserves only God’s punishment, but who is calling upon God for mercy? If in any way you think you deserve forgiveness from God, you won’t receive forgiveness.

      I hope these thoughts help. Let me know what God does in your heart.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  6. worried says:

    Thanks for this teaching.

    Can God still forgive me if I have sinned a lot of times the same sin?

    I am deeply sorrowful for a sin I keep committing. I have prayed and fasted for the last six years and taken practical steps but i keep falling. Deep in my heart, i would like to break from the sin, i have prayed and humbled myself before God to help me overcome it, but i keep falling back. Does God still recognise me as His child? I know sin thrives in privacy and it would help if i share it with a trusted believer, but I cannot afford to share it with anyone, i just cant trust they will never share it with someone else.

    My heart is too sorrowful knowing i wrong mu Lord. I just wish God would instantly kill this sin from me. it would be like a heavy burden lifted off my shoulder, i would be so happy.

    Do other saved people struggle also with such or is there something am not doing right?

    I have even started imagining, is it possible some demonic power is operating in my life? I am saved, i don’t think this could be possible, or am i mistaken?

    What kind of prayer should i make to drive off this sin from me?Just what should i do? I am desperate to break away from this chain.
    Could this sin be hindering some breakthroughs in my life?

    I will be grateful for your advice. Thanks for your ministry.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Dear Worried,

      Thank you for sharing your story.

      First of all, as long as you are earnestly repenting before God, genuinely confessing your sin to God, and trusting Jesus Christ to forgive you through His death — you will be forgiven. No matter how many times you need forgiveness, if you are sincerely confessing, He will forgive you.

      And I am so sorry for your six-year long struggle against sin.

      I would read the blog posts under the category “Overcoming Sin and Temptation.” In those posts I spell out concrete steps that God promises will help us overcome sin.

      Read them, and pursue the steps I outline, and then let me know what God does.

      I would also urge you to share with someone in your church what is going on, so they can pray with and for you. True, there’s always the risk that they will share it with someone else. But the power of sharing it with someone else, and having them praying with you, is worth that risk, in my opinion.

      And, yes, saved people struggle with sin.

      Fight to see all that God promises to be to you in Christ Jesus. See that His death broke the power of this sin. See that His resurrection-power is in you and is able to overcome that sin.

      See Him — and experience Him — as your all-satisfying Treasure. As you do that, you will see the power of that sin weaken, and you will grow stronger and stronger in resisting its pull.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  7. kc says:

    Steve,
    If someone has a mental disorder,OCD for example, is he responsible for unwanted and intrusive thoughts? Is he forgiven? Is he guilty of sin if he can’t control these thoughts? There is more I would like to ask if you can e mail me at the above email.
    Thanks,
    KC

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi KC,

      God won’t judge us for anything we are physically unable to do. So if I have a physical condition that causes my brain to produce intrusive thoughts, I won’t be judged for the presence of those thoughts. But if I am able to battle them, then not battling them would be sin. And yet I can be forgiven for that sin by confessing it to Christ and trusting His death on the Cross.

      I hope that helps some. And I’ll email you right now.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  8. Janine says:

    What about the unforgivable sin. I believe I have committed it by blaspheming the HolySpirit. No matter what I do I cant seem to find God s forgiveness for my repeated quenching of the Holy Spirit.

  9. Janine says:

    What about the unforgivable sin? Im afeaid I have committed it as I felt God take His holy Spirit from me. Since then I cannot find peace in my heart or God’s forgiveness.

  10. SYLAZ says:

    God bless you soo much steve.Am blessed.

  11. You’ve got the most effective internet websites

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