Question:

I'd like to ask you for some verses on how I can cleanse my soul and learn how to forgive myself for a mistake that I did.


Answer:

"This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us" (I John 1:5-10).

As Christians, we understand that we should not sin. Sin interferes with our relationship with God (Isaiah 59:1-2). Hence, we strive to live in accordance with the teachings of God. Yet the fact remains that we are not immune from the temptations of Satan. We have our moments of weakness and we sin. To deny this, John warns us, is to deny what God was warned us about -- all of us sin from time to time.

The difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is that the Christian does not wish to remain in sin. The non-Christian doesn't care whether he sins or not; therefore, he is not motivated to correct his sins.

The passage in I John 1, quoted above, tells the Christian how he can return to God after sinning:

  1. A Christian must admit that what he has done is wrong. This is often the hardest step because few people desire to see themselves in a bad light or to admit to a weakness in character. For many it is easier to pretend the weakness is not there and that the sin doesn't matter. Yet, without an admission that what was done was wrong, there is no motivation to change.
  2. A Christian must confess he sins to his Lord and God. It is much like a parent hearing a crash in the next room. He walks in and sees his child next to the broken dish. He knows exactly what happened, but he asks anyway, "Who did this?" The parent desires to see that his child understands that what happened was wrong and is willing to claim responsibility for his own fault. God is looking for that same "adult" thinking from us, His children.
  3. We strive to live in accordance with God's teachings. Admission of guilt with no accompanying change in action is useless. If we know something is wrong, we must take steps not to continue doing the wrong.

In this latter step, it sometimes helps to share our weakness with a trusted fellow Christian. "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:16). Knowing that someone is rooting for you and desires you to improve will make a big difference in how well we will be able to change. Dieting programs understand this. That is why they have regular monitoring. Just knowing that someone is going to ask how you are doing with your particular problem will often motivate us to stay within the bounds of God's law.

"Forgiveness" means to release someone from a debt that they owe you. If you borrowed money from a friend and they decided to forgive the debt, it means you no longer owe the money -- it is as if the money was never borrowed. When we sin, we incur a debt to God. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). If we do what God asks of us, He has promised to forgive the debt -- to consider it gone, as if it never existed. "Indeed it was for my own peace that I had great bitterness; but You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption, for You have cast all my sins behind Your back" (Isaiah 38:17).

God tells us that our forgiveness is dependent on our forgiving others who sin against us. "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matthew 6:14-15). However, to forgive there must first be a debt owed. If someone does you wrong, I cannot forgive that person of their wrong doing. I wasn't harmed. Nothing is owed to me. Only the person harmed can give forgiveness. In addition, just as God expects us to ask for forgiveness from Him by confessing our wrongs, there is no requirement to forgive a person who is not sorry that he did you wrong and who is unwilling to change his ways.

If you understand this, then realize that forgiving yourself doesn't match the terms. How do you owe something to yourself? How do you release yourself from a debt that you owe to you? What many people do is confuse the idea of memory with forgiveness. They feel that if they have forgiveness, then they will never remember their past sins, or if they do remember them, then at least they won't feel pains of guilt for having committed those sins.

When God forgives us of our sins, He doesn't bring up those sins again, but it doesn't mean that sin never occurred. The past cannot be altered. Paul was forgiven of his pasts sins, for which he was grateful, but he didn't forget his past. "And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life" (I Timothy 1:12-16). Paul remembered that he consented to the death of many Christians before he turned to Christ himself. His memory made him more appreciative of the forgiveness that he received from the Lord.

Do what the Lord requires of you and trust that He keeps His promise to forgive the sinners who turn back to him.