HH Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
This post is for Christians who believe they have done irreparable damage to others.
Sin has two components. First, there is the actual deed, and then there are all the ramifications that deed has throughout time. God mercifully shields us from ever seeing the full ramifications of our sins. We fling out sharp comments and then move on, never seeing how deeply we wounded another heart and how long it takes them to recover.
- We’re rude to the police officer who pulls us over for a ticket we deserve and we never see how discouraged he is after we drive away.
- We yell at a customer service representative on the phone because we’re frustrated with the company they represent, and we never see them flushed faced and teary-eyed after we hang up in their faces.
Human beings are a sensitive lot. We all get our feelings hurt easily in certain contexts and we are very affected by how others treat us. It’s easy to ignore the sensitivity of others when you have limited interactions with them, or when you only see them in a context like work where they are expected to hide their feelings. But sometimes we find ourselves forced to keep interacting with someone whose life is publicly displaying evidence that they’ve been royally trampled on by someone else—and we see that someone else every time we look in the mirror.
Perhaps you were the pusher who got your little brother hooked on drugs and now his brains are permanently fried and your parents are broken with grief. Maybe you took advantage of desperate young girls so that you could make money off of their prostitution. Now you see them all dying from horrible diseases and getting beat up by the creeps that you introduced them to. Or maybe you were the father who molested his young kids and now they’ve grown up into molesters and paedophiles who refuse to admit they have a problem just like you used to. Or maybe you were the unfaithful wife who ran off with her lover and totally abandoned your kids. Now your ex is a depressed alcoholic and your kids are looking for love in all the wrong places. It’s hard to connect with your freedom in Christ when you played a key role in destroying other lives. It’s hard to read about God saying, “Vengeance is Mine; I will repay” and not think He’s going to be gunning for you one of these days. After all, He is extremely protective towards the helpless and trampled on. And it’s not like you can claim that you didn’t know what you were doing. You knew you were hurting people and wrecking lives, but you were too selfish to care at the time. Now you’re walking around forgiven and your victims are crawling around in such broken states that it seems like they’ll never be able to connect with the concept of a loving God.
When we can see a clear cause-and-effect relationship between our actions and someone else’s suffering, Satan rushes in for the kill. While you’re being forced to face the damage you’ve done, he will do his utmost to convince you that God might well have forgiven you for your action, but not for all of its ramifications. He will try to get you to separate the two components of sin and argue that the cross only covered one of them. But we know that everything Satan says is a lie.
On the cross, Jesus fully atoned for all of your sins: both the actions and all of their poisonous effects. So when you see your brother shooting up and hear Satan telling you that God is blaming you for his condition, you need to reject this. God’s forgiveness is not partial. He doesn’t smile at you in church and then turns to glare at you when one of your victims comes into view. He doesn’t say He’s over your sin one moment and then act shocked at your failing the next. When God is over something He is OVER IT. Unlike us, God does not have to keep forgiving someone over and over again because His emotions keep undoing His internal peace. He doesn’t struggle with negative flashbacks and He doesn’t ever second guess His decision to be merciful.
So like a few days ago when a black man was placed in handcuffs and on the ground while a white police officer placed his knee on his neck and three other white officers put pressure on his back that impaired his lungs. Looking at the video you could hear the black man saying I cannot breathe and at one point asked for some water. It is heartbreaking and those images will be forever etched in the minds of many black and some white persons. God sees and hears us and I know that He understands the reasons for the protests. I will shout to this nation America, America thou art are weighed in the balances and are found wanting. These deeds will not go unpunished and Thou will be brought into judgement.
There are several critical points that you need to get straight in your mind. One is that Jesus actually PAID for your sins, He didn’t just talk His Father into forgetting about them. Sometimes we slip into a mindset of thinking God’s forgiveness is like a company who declares bankruptcy and sends out notices to all the people they owe money to advising them that they’re never going to get their money. If you’ve ever received such a notice, your feelings towards the person shirking on their debt are not very positive. You feel ripped off and cheated. When we do something that we consider particularly awful, Satan tries to convince us that God feels ripped off by forgiving us and so He reverts back to an angry state and starts demanding atonement from us. It is this kind of mentality that leads Christians into self-harming practices like whipping their own backs in order to earn God’s forgiveness. Yet God is clear that we NEVER have to earn His forgiveness, for Jesus already paid our debt in full. Instead of sending God a “too bad, You’ll just have to eat my debt” note, Jesus gave the Father payment in full on your behalf. Because of this, the Father has no bitterness whatsoever in forgiving you. On the contrary, He is extremely happy to do it, because He does not want to see the efforts of His Son going to waste.
When souls reject Jesus and go to Hell, they miss out on the benefit of having Him fully pay their debt of sin to the Father. Their rejection of Jesus is such an incredible waste and something that His Father considers unforgivable. After going to such lengths to enable us to be reconciled with Him, the Father is not about to look the other way when souls are too prideful to appreciate what His Son did for them. The horrors of Hell express how outraged the Father becomes over the rejection of His Son, and the joys of Heaven prove how delighted He is to lavish love and mercy upon those who submit to Him. When it comes to all of your terrible deeds, the Father is one hundred per cent over it. He has been fully compensated by Jesus for all of the damage you did and He will never, ever suggest that you should do something more to complete His Son’s atonement for your sins. He may call on you to play a role in helping some of your victims receive His healing, but anything He asks you to do will not be about atoning for your sins. Jesus paid your debt in full. There is nothing left for God to be angry at you about.
Another helpful focus for you to have is found in Romans 5:8: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Notice it is the Father who demonstrated His love, just as it was the Father who sent His Son to die for us. The Father is often the One we get nervous about post-salvation. We see Jesus as our loving Intercessor, but we worry that His Father’s acceptance of us won’t last. The Father makes it very clear in His Word that our salvation was His idea and that we never need to worry about Him having second thoughts. Romans 5:8 really becomes powerful when you stop to remember that God saw all of the nasty things you would do before you were even conceived. God does not dwell in time and space. From His eternal vantage point, He sees our entire lives at once. This means that He chose to embrace you with His love even as you were molesting or drug pushing or whatever horrible thing it is that you did. It is a good exercise to remember yourself at your lowest point and realize that God’s love for you at that moment was every bit as enthusiastic as it was on your best day.
As humans, we struggle to understand the notion of a love that is not based on behaviour. It’s wired into us to assume that when we act bad, God’s love for us decreases, and when we act good, His love increases. But this is absolutely incorrect. God’s love is a steady constant which does not care in the least what our behaviour is doing. It’s like the sun which rises faithfully every day in the sky regardless of what the people on earth are doing. The sun never looks down and says “What a bunch of creeps! They don’t deserve any light today!” The sun shines because it’s a star and shining is what stars do. Likewise, God loves us because it is His nature to do so. Unlike a star which just glows without thinking, God chooses to love because He wants to. But our behaviour is not a factor in why He chooses to love us. He just does. It’s hard to get our minds around, but we must keep trying for it is a critical truth which helps us grasp just how different God is from us.
God was pleased to forgive you and He never feels like your sins were not fully atoned for. He chose to love you before you even came to Him and He chose to embrace you and all of your ugly sins before you even knew His Name. Dwelling on these truths is the way that you will be able to stand against Satan’s constant refrain that God is still holding your past against you or that He’s still disgusted by some aspect of you. While you may have memories of your own behaviour that make you feel sick to your stomach, God does not have the same feelings of repulsion. It is very easy for Him to talk about your ugly deeds and twisted intentions—far easier than it is for you when Satan’s got you choking on shame. Don’t miss this point: it is very important that you do not have any closed subjects between you and God. Satan will not hesitate to discuss all of your most shameful memories with you, and if he’s the only one you’re willing to talk with, you’re going to end up despaired and suicidal. If there are currently any subjects you’re avoiding between your soul and God, now is the time to break down those walls. The Holy Spirit is ready and available at all times. He wants to help you process the past and learn to see it from His much more positive perspective. Refuse to let Satan keep you cowering behind closed doors in your heart—this is his way of cutting you off from the support and help he knows you desperately need. Seeking outside help from human counsellors is all fine and well, but it is not enough. God is the only Source of healing and you must learn to see Him as your primary Counselor in life. God does not need human mediators to help you heal—if you are willing to have no closed subjects with Him, He can make miraculous changes to your insides and free you up from every form of shame.
The things that have happened in this country over the years may not be repaired in the years to come. What I am witnessing is a replay of the nazi in Germany along with the Catholic Church under the reign of Pope Pious in the late 1930s and 1940s. I believe Hitler was reigning at that time and the situation is no different, only this time the Evangelicals have replaced the Catholic Church.
But what about your victims? Is it your job to try and rescue them since you’re the one who messed them up in the first place? This is where it is vital that you don’t let Satan lead you. Remember that redeeming the past and healing present wounds both fall into God’s realm of responsibility. Apart from Him, there is absolutely nothing you can do to help anyone, and if you go charging out ahead of Him and start trying to wing it with your logic, Satan will make sure you only end up doing more damage. This is God’s world: let Him run it the way He wants to. He might give you some part to play in helping your victims find healing, or He might tell you to stay back. Realize that God is fair and merciful. While Satan wants you to think that you singlehandedly prevented people from ever finding Christ, this is simply not true. No matter how badly you injured someone else, God is infinitely greater than you are and He will never allow you to block a soul from coming to Him. It is one of Satan’s favourite games to heap on the “you’re the reason they’re going to Hell” routine whenever he can get away with it. But God says that no matter how tough time we’ve had down here, His Spirit gives us all the illumination and opportunity needed to receive eternal salvation through Christ. No one is going to have anyone but themselves to blame for ending up in Hell. You do not answer to God for the decisions another free will makes about Him; you only answer for your own behaviour. No matter how monstrous your behaviour was, it was fully atoned for by Christ. Do you see how glorious the cross is? No matter what argument Satan tries to throw in your face about how your past is creating a problem between you and God, you can always go back to the cross.
If I accumulate a million dollars in debt and someone comes along and pays it for me, so I sit down and start reviewing how I ever added up such a sum? Do I fuss over every bad decision I made and keep recalculating the figures that ended up totalling a million? Of course not. I breathe a great sigh of relief and express my gratitude towards the one who saved me. It’s the same with God. Now that your debt is paid in full, He doesn’t keep going over it with you, reminding you of every wrong move you made. Satan is the one who has an endless fascination with your past. God is only interested in the bottom line: your debt is paid. Your past, present and future sins are all paid for. It’s time to move on.
You are a child of God. He is now your primary focus in life. Your victims may or may not come to Him—that is a decision which is up to them to make. If they try to use you as their excuse for not coming to Christ, God won’t reroute them to a nicer version of Hell. There are no excuses for rejecting Christ. Resist the temptation to take on the burden of another soul’s eternal decisions. Remember that God is your primary focus now and He is the One who is taking care of every single soul on this earth. We are all in His care, which is far better than being strung out with just each other. You cannot force others to heal, you can’t undo your past or make people accept your apologies. The effects of sin are very complicated and far-reaching—no mere human can succeed at untangling the mess of damage they do to others. You must be willing to leave the mess you’ve made on this earth in God’s capable hands and trust that He will do what is best with it. No matter what Satan tells you, God does not want you taking on the responsibility of any other life but your own. Be willing to do whatever He asks, but don’t try to put words in His mouth or you’ll undoubtedly end up trying to punish yourself for what you’ve done. Satan is the one who promotes ongoing punishment. He’s the one who tells us to keep repenting for the same sins over and over even when God says just once is enough. Satan is the one who tells us to keep beating our bodies, cursing ourselves, and reminding God of how terribly we’ve treated Him. God says He doesn’t care about the past, He cares about the present. God says we’re His dearly loved children and there’s no mess we could ever make that He couldn’t clean up with one word if He wanted to. God wants to cut us free from the anchors of shame, guilt, and self-loathing, and come sit on His lap with our heads resting against His chest. Satan calls us by our failings—to him we are not souls, but “molesters”, “murderers” and “despicable sinners.” But God calls us by our names and says we are His dearly loved creations who He is delighted to spend an eternity with. When it comes to experiencing freedom in Christ, so much depends on our deciding who we are going to listen to Satan or God. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see yourself through the eyes of your loving Father and He will. You are not just the sum of your past mistakes.