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Feeling Forgiven



"Christians often struggle with their feelings about their relationship with God. For example, they may not feel forgiven. This article examines how a Christian can rise above this into the experience of forgiveness."


A visitor to my web site first asked, "Can I be forgiven?" and then after I responded she wrote back, "I have asked forgiveness but don't feel it."

The following is my reply.


How you feel is not a good indication of what you have with God.

For example, in Christ Jesus you have a relationship with God but you might not feel like you do. Your feeling, after all, is just telling you about your mental and emotion state at any given moment but it is not telling you about the condition you have come into with God through Jesus.


What then is it that tells us what condition we have come into through Jesus? It is God's Word. It is the declaration or statement found in scripture that gives us that information. Scripture tells we have a relationship with God the Father through His Son Jesus. We believe the declaration found in God's Word. For example, we believe the scripture that says,

Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ...He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.(He reconciled us to God.)

Ephesians 2:13 - 18 - NKJV


The scripture above is about salvation and reconciliation but the principle of accepting and believing the declaration of scripture also works about forgiveness and indeed anything else that we request in prayer. This highlights how feeling is not the basis of receiving, believing is. We accept we receive by faith.

God knew we would need help with this concept so Jesus taught us very diligently about prayer and receiving from God. First of all He called us to have faith in God then He taught how to receive from Him. He said,

Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

Mark 11:24 - NKJV


The centrepiece of what Jesus has taught there is, "when you pray, believe that you receive." Then He follows this up with "and you will have." In doesn't matter what it may be, if - when you pray - you ask believing you receive then as a follow up to that you will come to possess what you have requested.

In other words, receiving from God starts with accepting you receive by faith but once you do that it leads to having at some moment in the future what you asked for. By having, is meant possessing in the tangible or sensible realm. In the case of asking for forgiveness, it means praying accepting you receive by faith but having done that eventually you come to have the feeling you are forgiven. Eventually you will feel forgiven.


This principle underlies all receiving from God. You see it in the way we receive eternal salvation. Of this salvation the apostle Paul taught, "For by grace are you saved by faith". (Eph.2:8)

In this we see that it is God's grace and our faith that brings God's gift into our lives - whether it be salvation, reconciliation or anything else. You may not feel saved but you are saved because your faith with your request has brought you to it. This is equally true of forgiveness.


Perhaps there's one further question I ought to provide an answer to, namely, how do you "believe to receive"? The answer is simply - you take God at His word. The moment you firmly decide it is so because God says so then the door is open for you to believe you receive whatever you find promised in God's Word. It is the one who has come into that place that sees the fulfilment of the apostle Paul's teaching on how faith comes into your life. He writes,

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Romans 10:17 - NKJV


What does God say about the availability of His forgiveness to us? He says by the apostle John,

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.

1 John 1:9 - NKJV

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