Am I Really Forgiven?

  1. What Makes You Think You Belong Here?
  2. Am I Really Forgiven?
  3. Am I Really Contributing Anything?
  4. Do I Really Deserve to Be Here?

Last week, we started talking about Christian impostor syndrome. The amount of comments you all left on that post is a testament to how much this issue is something the people of God wrestle with.

This post is where we’ll examine the first of three questions we need to ask when dealing with Christian impostor syndrome—questions whose answers can help us come to terms with our own self-doubts and insecurities.

I think this first question, “Am I really forgiven?”, is the most important question, and I struggled with how to phrase it.

This is the big one—the one that can keep us up at night—but we don’t all ask it the same way.

There are variations on this question. Sometimes we ask ourselves, “What if I haven’t repented correctly?” or, “What if I forgot about a sin?”, or just simply, “What if God hasn’t really forgiven me?”

And sometimes it doesn’t even take the form of a question, but it’s still there. It’s still something shaping our thinking. This is the question that makes us start off sentences with, “If I make it to the Kingdom,” or, “If I’m in the first resurrection.”

If. All our doubts, all our uncertainties, all our insecurities are hedged in that “if.”

If I’m good enough. If I don’t screw it all up before then. If I’m even supposed to be here.

I’m going to have us look at a verse.

It’s a verse you’ve probably read before—and if this a question you’re wrestling with, it’s a verse you’re probably having trouble believing. I want to take a closer look at it with you today, and see if I can’t change your mind about it.

Family, I have heard variations of that “if I make it” statement from my peers, and I’ve heard it from veteran Christians more than twice my age.

It breaks my heart a little every time I hear that, because that is a big “if.” That is a big “if” to be holding onto when you’re talking about God’s salvation. That is a big “if” to have floating around your mind for decades as you live this way of life. And I’m hoping to convince you today, it is not an “if” that God wants or expects you to be carrying around.

Here’s the verse. God tells His people, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25).

* * *

If you’re wrestling with this question, I bet you can tell me why this is such a beautiful verse—and I also bet you can tell me why it applies to everyone else in the room but you.

Yes, their transgressions are blotted out. Yes, their sins are forgiven—but not mine. Mine are too big, too complicated, too ugly, too shameful, too unforgivable, too [insert your adjective here].

But that’s not what it says. That’s not what God says.

God says, “I am He who blots out your transgressions. I am the God who will not remember your sins.”

Not your neighbor’s.


And from a human perspective, this is such a hard thing to wrap our minds around. What does God mean, He won’t remember? How does that work?

It’s not amnesia, right? God doesn’t just purge bits of His memory every time we repent. If that’s how it worked, there’s huge chunks of the Bible He literally wouldn’t be able to remember. Every passage that records a repented sin, God would have to… not know, somehow. Except He inspired those sins to be recorded later later, so that’s… impossible, right?

But amnesia is a cheap trick, anyway. It’s easy to forgive someone when you literally can’t remember what they did to you. What makes this passage so beautiful is what God means by remembering. When this concept shows up in Hebrew or in Greek, this is about a conscious choice God makes.

Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words says this about the words for remembering: “Remembering, however, is often more active and effective than the mere recollection of certain data. Remembering should affect one’s life significantly, in terms of changing attitudes … or taking some action. … When God does not remember, this is not forgetfulness, but a choice to not dwell upon or consider someone or something.”

In other words, when God says He won’t remember something, He means He chooses not to think about that when He looks at us.

That is not something that comes naturally to us as humans. We can forgive each other, we can heal from wounds and rebuild bridges, but the memory of a past sin can hang around. It’s easy to think, “He’s the person who did this,” or, “She’s the person who did that.”

God doesn’t do that.

God chooses not to look at us as “the person who did that.” When we repent, God looks at us and says, “Okay, I choose to look at you as if that’s not who you are anymore. As if that’s not part of your identity.” He doesn’t forget what happened, but He’s able to look at those past failures and say, “But that’s a closed chapter now.”

* * *

And so the next logical question here is, “Okay, but what if there’s a sin I wrestle with? One that I find myself coming back to, no matter how hard I work at overcoming it? How does God look at me then?”

Peter had a similar question. Usually, we look at it in the context of how to treat each other, because that was Peter’s intent when he asked it. Peter asked Jesus, “‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven'” (Matthew 18:21–22).

Think about who gave that instruction.


Jesus, who had come to earth to die to make the forgiveness of sins possible.

He expects us to treat others with that level of forgiveness because that’s the level of forgiveness He treats us with. Not seven times. Seventy times seven. Orders of magnitude beyond what seems reasonable. Above and beyond our ability to keep track of. There is no upper limit here.

God is serious about forgiveness.

We can limit Him sometimes. We can assign Him our own human shortcomings when it comes to forgiving others. But that’s not how God works.

God doesn’t forgive halfway. He doesn’t pardon begrudgingly. And He isn’t waiting to fault us on some technicality, to resurrect us back to life and have an angel tell us, “Sorry, you were so close, but you forgot to repent in just the right way, so it’s into the lake of fire for you.”

Jesus said that it was our Father’s good pleasure to give us the Kingdom (Luke 12:32). We know that He’s not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). If there’s something God wants us to repent of and change in our lives, we have to trust that He is going to make it clear what that is—not leave us in the dark about it and let us stumble our way into oblivion.

(Of course, it should go without saying that the Christian life is one of self-examination and introspection. If we aren’t taking care to study and internalize God’s Word, we’re going to have a much harder time hearing what He wants us to hear.)

* * *

I’m hitting this hard because it needs to be hit hard, because we need to understand the kind of unconditional love God has for us and the depths of the forgiveness He offers us.

Here are a few more passages about God’s forgiveness:

  • “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7). Not a little bit. Abundantly. Above and beyond.
  • “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the LORD, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool'” (Isaiah 1:18).
  • “Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue [or trample] our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:18-19).
  • One more. One of my favorites: “For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:11–14).

How far is the east from the west? Can you set a distance for that? A number? A measurement?

You cannot. It’s infinite. When we come before God and seek His forgiveness, when we ask Him to blot out our transgressions with the blood of Christ, those sins are as good as gone. They are trampled under foot, they are cast into the sea, they are tossed beyond the boundaries of infinity. Then He takes us, red like crimson, and makes us whiter than snow.

And He will do that, over and over again, every time we come to Him and ask for that forgiveness. Seventy times seven. Seventy times seventy million. He is a Father who loves His children with an abundant kind of love we can only begin to wrap our heads around.

And that Psalm we looked at—the one about removing our sins as far as the east is from the west—do you know who wrote those words under God’s inspiration?


King David. This was the man who, in the lowest moments of his life, committed some of the most shameful sins a human being can commit. When you think about the story of David and Bathsheba, there were very few sins David didn’t commit. He coveted after something and someone that didn’t belong to him. He stole. He committed adultery. He lied to cover it all up. When that didn’t work, he murdered one of his most loyal soldiers. I suspect he was doing a poor job of keeping the Sabbath holy during all that. I can guarantee you he was putting other things before God during that time. And at the end of it all, Nathan the prophet told him, “by this deed you have utterly scorned the LORD” (2 Samuel 12:14, ESV).

By committing such a string of wicked actions, David had taken the name of God in vain. He had scorned Yahweh, the Eternal God.

David repented. He wrote Psalm 51, one of the most moving psalms of repentance in the entire Bible. And we know from David’s story that God did forgive him. And we know from the prophet Ezekiel that David will once again be king over Israel.

If David could be forgiven of all that after his repentance, what sins of yours do you believe God might not forgive?

And look, we know this isn’t all just a blank check for us to do whatever we want and get off without consequences. There are always consequences for sin. David’s child died because of his sin. His kingdom was thrown into disarray because of his sin. We should never look at the forgiveness of sin as something inconsequential—or worse, as an opportunity to pursue our own desires regardless of God’s rules. The blood that makes our forgiveness possible is far too valuable to be treated flippantly.

What we should understand is that, in spite of his numerous failures, David still found forgiveness. He was still made clean. He’s still going to make it.

Do not convince yourself that you cannot be square with God. Do not convince yourself that He is withholding forgiveness from you. Do not convince yourself that this is a question of “if” I make it.

There does not have to be an “if.”

God does not intend for there to be an “if.”

Until next time,

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