Are you having a difficult time in breaking free from your past? The following may help you:
Breaking Free Question:
Three years ago I let go of a very shameful past and became a Christian. I have been trying to grasp the aspects of the Christian life ever since. I believe that Christ died to save me. But I’m really struggling with getting over those memories so I can feel worthy of what Christ has done for me. How can I be assured that I am forgiven and feel worthy of His love?
Perhaps the most difficult concept for us to grasp is what grace truly means. It seems too good to be true. It means “unmerited favor.” In other words, by its very definition, it’s favor that God gives to us that we cannot merit or deserve. When you say that you want to feel “worthy” of His love, that is something that none of us could ever do. We are not worthy and never will be. Grace says that we are loved just because God loves us, period.
So feeling worthy is not the goal. But feeling grateful is. The implication of that is enormous for you and the rest of us as well. This means that no matter how shameful your past, it has no relevance on your forgiveness. God forgives us because He is gracious and loving.
Secondly, it’s not just your “past” that is forgiven. “YOU” are forgiven as a person — past, present, and future. You’ve been clothed with the righteousness of Christ, which means that when God looks at you, He sees the goodness of Jesus, not you. There’s nothing that you can ever do to make that any different. You’re what the Bible calls “in Christ.” That means you are forever without condemnation in God’s eyes. (See 1 Cor. 1:30 and Rom. 8:1.)
Your problem is that you don’t feel that kind of acceptance. You’re still judging yourself according to your own standards and conscience. So, two things have to happen. One, you have to change your standard to God’s standard, which is His grace. You’re judged strictly by His grace and forgiveness through Jesus. If you believe in Him, you are forgiven. That’s the only standard that makes us “worthy” of forgiveness. Once you know that, memorize verses like John 5:24; 1 John 1:9; and 1 John 5:13. Then, when your conscience condemns you, recite those verses in your mind or read them over and over.
The other answer is that the Bible speaks of two ways we can know things. One is the information or the facts. But we also know things through experience.
We have to experience God’s love and acceptance, and your conscience is built through experience with people significant to you. We internalize the voices from other people that judge us. If they are forgiving and loving, we tend to accept our failures as God does. If they are harsh and critical, we tend to relate to ourselves the same way. As a child, these people are parents or caregivers. Later it becomes the friends and community that we hold significant.
Breaking Free from Negative Internal Voices
So, your internal, emotional voices need to be “re-internalized” from friends and community. That means you need a good group of loving and accepting friends who know and accept everything there is about you, just like God does (Eph. 4:32; Jas. 5:16). Then you will internalize that love and find the truth of 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment.”
Learn about love as you allow God to love you through His people. Forget trying to be “worthy,” and just be “loved.” (For more on this, see Drs. Cloud and Townsend’s book How People Grow: What the Bible Reveals About Personal Growth, Zondervan.)
This article is shared with us courtesy of Christian Single Magazine and was originally posted on the Internet on the great resource web site of Lifeway.com (which publishes Christian Single Magazine).
It is written by Dr Henry Cloud, who is a clinical psychologist and the co-founder of Cloud-Townsend Communications in Southern California.