Video – Lessons from the Song “Just As I Am, I Come Broken”

This was a lesson I presented at the 2016 Florida College Alabama camp reflecting on the theme song from camp: “Just As I Am, I Come Broken.” This is a beautiful adaptation of an old hymn that expresses the response of someone coming just as they are to God for healing and transformation.

This was a lesson I presented at the 2016 Florida College Alabama camp reflecting on the theme song from camp: “Just As I Am, I Come Broken.” This is a beautiful adaptation of an old hymn that expresses the response of someone coming just as they are to God for healing and transformation.

Forgiving Ourselves

You know, based on God’s promises, that He has forgiven you. But if you’re still agonizing about what you did (or didn’t do) and feeling great guilt, perhaps you have yet to forgive yourself. When you acknowledged your sin you already made the hardest decision–facing yourself and making changes. Sometime when you pray, thank God for the guilt and shame that moved you to repent and leave a destructive path.

Your past will not define your life and you should not look at yourself through the lens of your past. There are many people who have been down the same road you traveled who are fine teachers, loving spouses and parents, and good examples for others.

Sometimes we hold onto guilt and have problems forgiving ourselves because we feel that we are letting ourselves off too easily. Holding guilt allows us to punish ourselves and, when reaching some spiritual summit, reproach ourselves saying, “You’re not so good. I remember when you…” It is ok to let go of your guilt. Acknowledge that your inward pain has been your punishment and prison for past sins and give yourself a pardon.

Forgiveness is the greatest thing you can give others and yourself. Grieve your sins, the embarrassment you feel/felt, the sorrow for letting others and yourself down, the actions you regret–yes grieve them–then let them go. You have punished yourself well enough–I think anyone could say that you have not let yourself off easily–you have the right to free yourself and enjoy true peace and happiness. You will never forget what you have done, but when you forgive yourself, it finds a place in your past that can only give you a small tinge of pain when it is brought to mind, but it will not bully and berate you anymore.

Forgiving Yourself

Many years ago I had a discussion with a young lady who was debating within herself whether to acknowledge to the congregation things she had done wrong in the past and asking forgiveness from those who knew what she had done. More than that, she wanted the prayers and encouragement of others as she struggled to forgive herself. That struggle to forgive oneself was the subject of the letter that I sent to her and share here with you. If you are struggling to forgive yourself I hope you will find words of encouragement to allow you to free yourself from the hold this sin exerts in your life as it weakens your spiritual strength. If you have obtained forgiveness from God through the gift of His Son, give yourself a wonderful gift of freedom by removing the grip of the past sin so you can fully embrace your future service for God.

First of all, I appreciate your sensitive heart, the courage to face yourself, and the changes already evident in your life. You are a fine example to others and I do not think making this confession will diminish it in the least. On the contrary, I think it may open opportunities for you to help others in a similar situation. Though God does not want us to sin, I think that He is able to use our experience to help heal the lives and pain of others in a way that others cannot do so easily. I think I have told you before but when I was in high school and college I did not drink. I wish I could say that it was because of my dedication to God but more often there were other things in my past that created a strong aversion to alcohol and its results. Whatever the motivation, I am thankful for the result. However, when talking with someone who is having a drinking problem or other problems to which alcohol contributes, I can encourage them from the scripture but I cannot relate to them as one who has been there. However, there are other problems with which I can be very helpful because of my personal experience. God says, “Behold, I make all things new,” and he will be able to make something new from your experience.

Your confession statement was well worded and very moving. From your email I know that you believe God has forgiven you and, based on His promises, you are correct. However, since you have written this document and revised it on several occasions I assume that it has been on your mind for a long time. If this is troubling you and you cannot find peace without bringing it before the congregation, I think you have the answer you are seeking. If you feel that you should have said something in the past, you should say something now, I am sure that you will feel that you need to say something in the future–until you do. Your statement explains well why you have waited to make such a statement.

It breaks my heart that you are still struggling with your guilt and have problems forgiving yourself. You have already made the hardest decision–facing yourself and your sin and making changes. Sometime when you pray, thank God for the guilt and shame that moved you to repent and leave a path headed to destruction. Your past will not define your life and you should not look at yourself through the lens of your past. There are many young Christian women who have been down the same road you traveled who are fine teachers, loving wives and mothers, and good examples for young women. Many young women at the church look up to you and, knowing what you have been through and the changes you have made, I would, without any reservation, feel that they chose well when you are listed among their role models.

Sometimes we hold onto guilt and have problems forgiving ourselves because we feel that we are letting ourselves off too easily. Holding guilt allows us to punish ourselves and, when reaching some spiritual summit, reproach ourselves saying, “You’re not so good.  I remember when you…” It is perfectly fine to let go of your guilt. Acknowledge that your inward pain has been your punishment and prison for past sins and give yourself a pardon. Forgiveness is the greatest thing you can give others and yourself. Grieve your sins, the embarrassment you feel/felt, the sorrow for letting others and yourself down, the actions you regret–yes grieve them–then let them go. You have punished yourself well enough–I think anyone could say that you have not let yourself off easily–you have the right to free yourself and enjoy true peace and happiness. You will never forget what you have done, but when you forgive yourself, it finds a place in your past that can only give you a small tinge of pain when it is brought to mind, but it will not bully and berate you anymore. This I can tell you from experience.

Who You Are Is Not Who You Were

The Bible clearly teaches that we will be judged by our actions. Revelation 20:12 tells of judgment where “…I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.” The books (Old Testament and New Testament) reveal the standard of what we must do in order to please Him (2 Timothy 2:15; 2 Peter 1:3). Paul clearly links our actions to eternal punishment or reward (Romans 2:6-11 – note the variations of “do” and its direct relationship to the results). Jesus says that we will even be called into judgment for every careless word (Matthew 12:36). What we do and say impacts our eternal life.

But our actions also enrich our earthly life and the lives of others. I think the scripture makes it clear that God does not want us to live holy lives to prepare for a grand accounting, but in order to share in His holiness and to be like His righteous Son. Jesus lived the life of a servant and had a tremendous impact on the lives of those He touched. A life that serves God and others is the life revealed in God’s word.

The Bible teaches that we have all fallen short of the standard God has set (Romans 3:23). The question is, how will you react to your failure to be holy? You can beat yourself up and say that you’ll never be able to live up to God’s standard but, in truth, you are blaming God for your lack of effort. You can say that you have too many sins or you have messed your life up too much, but that is accusing God of having insufficient grace. However, God wants you to take two important steps.

First, be reconciled to Him through His Son. We must believe what the gospel says about Jesus and confess Him as God’s Son (Romans 10:9-15). We must also turn away from a life that is dedicated to honoring self instead of God and the sin that separates us from God (Acts 2:38; Acts 3:19). We must also submit to baptism, immersion in water, which is a burial and resurrection with Christ, so that our sins may be cleansed (Romans 6:1-14). Note that it is not the actions themselves that save us but obeying the will of God that commands these things. When we sin after we are baptized, we can repent and pray to God to forgive us (1 John 2:1-5).

Second, as a child of God you have the duty and privilege to bring others to God to receive the forgiveness, hope, peace, and joy that you received. The reaction of the Samaritan woman in John 4 is a great example of one who lived an unrighteous life but used the testimony of her past (“Come see a man who told me all things I ever did”) to bring others to Jesus. If you have overcome a type of sin or habit you are in a better position to help others overcome that sin or habit better than someone who has no experience with it. We should not indulge in sin so we can help others–we must strive for holiness–but when we do fall, we should use our failures to help others succeed. God can help us use our defeats to bring victory in our life and the lives of others.

Do not let yourself be defined by failures of your past. What has been done cannot be changed, only forgiven. But yesterday’s actions do not demand the same actions today. When we give up because of past sins, we allow history to steal the present and hinder the opportunity for a brighter future. When we give our sins to God, make the choice to reject sin, and strive for holiness we will become more like Jesus and less like what we were. Jesus can clean up a polluted life, fix what is damaged, and create a wonderful child who lives a satisfying life and makes a positive imact on the lives of others.