I sometimes remember mistakes from long ago and as much as I try to forget them, it seems like they never go away. It stirs up fear and a total loss of confidence in me. It also distracts me and thus creating an inner conflict. This I believe affects my interpersonal relationships. For instance, I know God has forgiven me, but when I remember previous sins, it breaks me, I want to believe that God has forgiven cos His Word says so, but I still feel overwhelming guilt.
I’ll try and address the part of your question about always remembering the past sins you’ve committed.
The truth is, no one actually forgets totally some major atrocities they’ve committed in the past. By major atrocities, I mean those “major, groundbreaking sins”, maybe not the petty lies and stealing even though I still clearly and graphically remember the first I stole in my nursery 2, thanks to the coloured popcorn my teacher was selling. Who forgets the first time they had premarital sex, or committed rape or had an abortion? No one. Especially those sins that have things to remind you of them on constant basis. So eliminating the triggers to this memory or trying to forget them won’t even come up as a suggestion.
I can also totally relate to the feeling of guilt that accompanies such memories, and I know they also differ in intensity one to another, the feeling of stealing 50 Naira 20 years ago can never be compared to forcefully taking an innocent girls virginity. And I’m happy you stated your convictions of having been forgiven by God because that is of utmost essence, but for emphasis sake;
Acts 3:17-19 (NIV) “Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out (blotted out, wiped clean), that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,
It is wise to ask the question, “What happens to my sin after I repent?” and that is the answer in the text above. If you repent and turn to God after sinning, God wipes the sin out. To emphasise the wiping out, consider this text; And I will forgive their wrongdoings, and I will never again remember their sins.” Heb 8:12 (NLT)
Where is another God like you, who pardons the sins of the survivors among his people? You cannot stay angry with your people forever because you delight in showing mercy. Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean! Micah 7:18-19
If we are all prone to remembering our past atrocities, what then should be our response to such memories? After all, if we can’t but remember, our response to such memories may as well be what will make the difference.
I believe truths from God’s word can inform of us of the perfect response to memories of our sins, which we can learn and adopt over a period of time by constant meditating on God’s word.
And here is one of such responses we should learn.
- Gratitude to God
He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing what is right. Titus 2:14 (NLT)
To really drive the message in this verse I present another verse that paints a more vivid picture.
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 1 Peter 1:18-19 (NIV)
If all these are true, that we were sinners, undeserving of the redemption we have received, an acquittal of all our sins by just believing and accepting that Christ paid for them, not with silver or gold which are still precious, but by His own blood, then I think every time our mind goes to an offence we committed and which we have repented of, then we should remind ourselves of what it cost God and Christ to have that offence paid for, and praise and thanksgiving should automatically flow from our heart to God instead of guilt. We have a perfect example in apostle Paul, who referred to himself as the chief of sinners, having killed people for the same faith he preached, he made a vivid boast of that life, seeing it as a pointer to God’s purpose;
How thankful I am to Christ Jesus our Lord for considering me trustworthy and appointing me to serve him, even though I used to scoff at the name of Christ. I hunted down his people, harming them in every way I could. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. Oh, how kind and gracious the Lord was! He filled me completely with faith and the love of Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 1:12-14 (NLT)
Having said all this, I understand that sometimes we are just overwhelmed by the weight of our sins, not that we don’t know and believe that God has forgiven us, but probably the damage our action caused others or even caused us. In this case, you have to ask yourself the question;
- Can I do anything about it?
Can you reach out to the victim of your action and talk to them? Or apologize? Or even just open up the fact that you understand the full extent of your action and what it could have caused them.
The weight of the memory could be prevalent also in the case where the sin is still kept secret, even though you have repented of it. Coming out to the public, or confessing to the party affected by it can ease a lot of weight.
I strongly advise that you pray and ask God for wisdom on what exactly to do to lift the guilt off judging that I don’t know the background story.
I’ll answer the rest of the question in a subsequent post(s) in the #PSSeries #AskLifegiva. You can also send in your questions(s) by filling the section provided for it below or send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feel free to contribute via your comments 😀 I’m really looking forward to reading them.
This suggested post will come in handy as well;