Have you ever found yourself thinking or even obsessing over your sins? Feeling depressed and thinking things like, “I’ll never be good enough, or I never seem to conquer this sin.” While we definitely must acknowledge our sins, God has not called us to constant navel-gazing! That will keep us so self-absorbed that we do not move forward with sanctification nor can we live with joy.
1 John 1:9 and I John 3:20 say this,
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
3:20 For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.
Within these two verses we have incredible promises from God! If we confess our sins to God, He will forgive us based on the completed work of His Son who died for our sins on the Cross. We need to accept God at His Word. We insult His grace by acting like we are not forgiven. John addresses this issue in 1 John 3:20. Even if our hearts and consciences struggle with being forgiven, we must take assurance and comfort from the fact that God is greater than our heart. God’s Word is perfectly trustworthy. Our minds and emotions are not dependable, so we need to trust God rather than our unreliable feelings.
C.S. Lewis wrote many letters to people seeking his counsel. He wrote a letter to a man who struggled with excessive self-awareness about his sin. Lewis gave this counsel, “You can and do make some attempt at prayer. The continual voice which tells you that your best actions are secretly filled with subtle self-regards, and your best prayers still wholly egocentric- must for the most part be simply disregarded- as one disregards the impulse to keep on looking under the bandage to see whether the cut is healing. If you are always fidgeting with the bandage, it never will.”
Lewis gave this good illustration that if we are always looking at the cut under the bandage, it won’t heal properly. We need to accept God’s word at face value that if He says we are forgiven when we confess our sins, then we are truly forgiven based on God’s character and faithfulness. Another way to counteract excessive self-awareness is to look for ways to help others. In doing so, we will take our attention away from our problems as we seek to serve other people in any way that we can, whether by our prayers and ministry of presence. By dealing with our guilt at the foot of the Cross of Christ, we are set free to joyfully perform good works to the glory of God and the benefit of others.