Is there any hope for those who have fallen into serious sexual sin? Absolutely! Jesus Christ came to die on the cross for all of our transgressions and failings. We can receive His forgiveness simply by repenting – that is, turning our back on our sins – and placing our trust in His righteousness. As Christ said to the woman who was caught in the act of adultery, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more” (John 8:11).
God’s forgiveness, then, is assured to us in Jesus Christ. But what can you do if, having confessed your sin and left it behind, you find that you still can’t forgive yourself? Is self-forgiveness important to the process of renewal and restoration?
The answer is yes – though in some cases achieving real freedom from feelings of self-condemnation may be a long and hard process. There’s no substitute in cases like this for earnest prayer and the listening ear of a caring Christian friend or mentor. If you want to start moving in the right direction, you need to unburden your heart to a mature believer whom you feel you can trust. Listen very carefully to what he or she has to say in reply.
In the meantime, it’s worth remembering that, in a very important sense, the inability to forgive oneself is actually the same thing as the sin of unbelief. Think about it for a moment. Paul tells us plainly that there is “now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). He also says that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). If you continue to condemn yourself after receiving the grace and forgiveness of Christ, isn’t there a sense in which you are denying the faith and crucifying the Son of God afresh (Hebrews 6:6)?
A passage that seems especially relevant to this subject is Hebrews 4:3-6. In these verses the writer speaks of God’s promised “rest.” The “rest” he has in mind is the rest of forgiveness and salvation in Christ. Here’s what he says: “For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: ‘So I swore in My wrath, “They shall not enter My rest’” … Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience [or unbelief], again He designates a certain day, saying in David, ‘Today,’ after such a long time …”
In other words, we enter into the “Promised Land” by fully embracing God’s grace. We find “rest” when we really believe that all our sins have been washed away. This is why it’s so important to come to the place where you can really “forgive yourself” for the sins you’ve committed.
For more help, visit Pure Intimacy or Focus on the Family’s main website .You can also call the ministry’s Counseling Department between 6am-5pm MST for a free consultation at 1-800A-FAMILY (232-6459).