Sometimes people have a hard time believing they have been forgiven by God. They walk around with guilt and feel almost as though they will be able to pay some kind of penance by continuing to beat themselves up over their sins. But they need to accept the forgiveness that Christ has given to them and start behaving like a forgiven person, realizing that “if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).
In Matthew 9 we find the story of a paralyzed man who was carried by his friends into the presence of Jesus. When Jesus saw the faith of his friends, he said to the man, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you” (verse 2). This is the first time we see Jesus’ use of the phrase, “Be of good cheer,” and He used it when he was assuring a man that his sins were forgiven.
Now, it doesn’t seem like they brought him to Jesus to have his sins forgiven; it seems like they brought him to be healed. So Jesus went on to say, “For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house” (verses 5–6). And the man did.
Jesus forgave this man of his sins, and in this case, God’s forgiveness brought courage. God does His part, and then we must do ours. You see, God gives His forgiveness to us, and we must accept that forgiveness.
Are you living in God’s forgiveness? Or, are you living in guilt because you are unwilling to accept it?