It had been a bad evening…. a very bad evening. I had exited our house to the tune of “scream crying”. (Always a nerve-grating experience.) An hour and a half later I had come home to more crying. (Oh my fraying nerves!! Lord, give me patience!, I prayed desperately as I walked in the door.)
As the story tumbled out, it became apparent that one child had made a bad decision that had led to another child being injured. I was thankful that the child had been spared more serious injury, as it could have been worse than it was. In talking through the situation I sensed that the offender was incredibly remorse; he felt terrible about what had happened.
“Have you told God you’re sorry?” I asked. “Yep.” “And…?” I queried. The child told me that God had forgiven him. I immediately wrapped my arms around him and told him that I, too, forgave him for his bad decision. I asked if he had asked his sister’s forgiveness. “Not yet…” he ventured, with head held low. He looked up, tears in his eyes. I encouraged him to apologize so that his sister could forgive him. He took a deep, shuddering breath. A moment later, he had received forgiveness from his sister as well.
A little while later, I recognized that the offender was still feeling awful inside. I showed him a verse from 1 John 1:9…
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
I made sure he understood that he was forgiven. He said that he understood, but what I saw was a countenance of guilt and condemnation. He was still carrying the burden of guilt. Why?
In a light bulb moment (thanks, Holy Spirit!) I asked him if he had forgiven himself for what happened. He burst into tears. “No… I can’t!”
And this, dear friends, is something I want you to recognize as well. Are you living under a burden of shame or condemnation? Have you received forgiveness from others and yet still feel guilt over something that happened? If you are certain that you have confessed what you need to confess to God, then we know that God has forgiven you. True fact. God never wants us to walk around under a dark cloud of condemnation!
I spoke to my son about this…
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” Rom.8:1
…but he was still feeling guilty and sad. We talked about it further, me trying to convince him to forgive himself and him, not really knowing how to do it. He still felt like he couldn’t. My words were not getting through so I began praying and asking God to give him a picture of what it looked like to forgive himself. To be honest, I didn’t have much hope that he would get anything because he was so upset and miserable and seemingly uninterested in prayer in the moment. Within seconds, he said, “Mom! I saw a picture!” He shared what the Holy Spirit had revealed to him and I felt excitement inside, recognizing that God was indeed revealing a truth through a picture.*
The picture involved my son’s heart and a force field beginning from the bottom of the heart and growing up around the heart towards the top. Suddenly, a black arrow came flying in to hit the heart. Just before the arrow hit, the force field closed up around the heart, protecting it from the dangerous black arrow.
Do you know that this lines up with Scripture? Ephesians 6:6 talks about the ‘fiery arrows of the evil one’ in the passage about the armour of God.
I explained to him that I believed that the messages of guilt and self-condemnation were actually ‘fiery arrows of the evil one’ trying to discourage him from the freedom of forgiveness that is ours in Christ Jesus. The truth was that he was forgiven. But he was having trouble believing the truth.
As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Ps.103:12
As I do in prayer for inner healing, I asked my son to refute the lie out loud. This simply means that we identify and speak against the lie that we have been believing. In this case, the lie was that he could not be forgiven, or could not forgive himself for what he had done. We then used Scripture to speak out the truth, thanking God that when we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive; that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus; and that as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Finally, we thanked God for the picture He had given, for His amazing truths in His Word, and for the forgiveness that is always ours in Christ Jesus.
I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. Is.43:25
The next time you feel a burden of condemnation or shame for something that you have confessed to our heavenly Father, please remember the picture of the black arrow aimed at your heart. Our enemy is wily and sneaky, and loves to convince us that the truth is not for us, that whatever we have done is too big to forgive. Stand against the lie and fight it with the truth of God’s Word, the sword of the Spirit!
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36
If you have never known the true freedom of forgiveness in Christ and wish to, please message me and I will happily return your message. 🙂
*for more info on this topic, please check out resources by Mark Virkler