How to Overcome Self-Condemnation: Appealing to the Mercy of God

A man seeks God's forgiveness in prayer.

Sometimes when you make a mistake, the hardest part of forgiveness is forgiving yourself. If you’re like me, you might tend to beat yourself up for mistakes you’ve made, mulling over them at night and asking yourself how you could be so stupid. Self-condemnation completely hinders the process of forgiveness.

When we make a mistake, we must ask God for his mercy and strive to resist temptation and live according to His Word, but sometimes our own thoughts can make it much harder to feel forgiven when we imprison ourselves in our own guilt. What we forget in those moments is how much God truly loves us. In order for us to move forward with peace and in confidence, knowing that He has forgiven us, we must recognize His love for us and that His mercy has no end.

Two examples in His Word show us what it means to appeal to God’s mercy.

When Lot and his family escaped Sodom and Gomorrah, he asked God to save a nearby city so that they might flee to it and be saved.

“Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die: Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live. And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken. Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.”

Genesis 19:19-22 (KJV)

One of the first things Lot said to God was a reminder that God had granted Lot grace and that He had “magnified [His] mercy” by saving Lot’s life. When Abraham went to God to try to convince Him not to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, he appealed to God’s justice, asking if God would destroy the “righteous with the wicked” (see Genesis 18:23). Abraham did not succeed in his intercession for Sodom and Gomorrah, but Lot succeeded in his intercession for Zoar by appealing first to the grace and mercy of God when he was in danger and needed to be saved.

In the New Testament, Jesus told a parable of humility and mercy when comparing the Pharisee to the publican.

“Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican…. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.”

Luke 18:10-11, 13 (KJV)

In this parable, the publican acknowledged his sinfulness and asked that God would show him mercy. He showed humility and an understanding of his own faults and need for a Savior.

These examples remind us to appeal to God’s mercy when we are facing difficulties and when we need forgiveness. Lot appealed to God’s mercy when he needed salvation from circumstances. The publican appealed to God’s mercy when he needed salvation from sin. Neither Lot nor the publican were perfect men, but in Lot’s case and in the parable of the publican, both men were sincere in their appeals, and God showed them His mercy. When we make a mistake and ask for forgiveness, we’re stating that we cannot make it on our own. Our appeal to God’s mercy becomes a declaration that we need Him.

Messing up again and again is human nature. God knows this. Of course, our human nature is not an excuse to sin, but rather it is a reminder that we need Him in order to resist temptation and receive forgiveness.

God is just and faithful to forgive of us our sins as His Word says in 1 John 1:9.

What these accounts remind me of is how much He wants to forgive us. Our God longs for us to surrender to Him and serve Him in righteousness and sincerity, and when we do, then He will forgive us of our sins. We need not walk in guilt and self-condemnation because He already paid the price for our sins and freed us from guilt and shame.

We can overcome guilt and self-condemnation by appealing to God’s mercy, by recognizing our flaws and inadequacies, and by understanding that it is only through the grace, love, and mercy of our Savior that we move forward and walk in confidence with Him. Self-condemnation will keep us from accepting His forgiveness, but the self-realization of our weaknesses and His great love for us keeps us under His blood and walking in newness of life.

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Post Schedule Announcement:

Lots of things are coming up as my schedule will be getting busier over the upcoming weeks, so posts will be on Fridays only until further notice.

I’ve seen there are some newer readers and subscribers to Breathe Pray Repeat, so I also want to say “welcome,” and I pray these posts bless you and encourage you to get closer to God as you seek Him more and study His Word.

If you have any post or Bible study requests, don’t hesitate to comment below or send me a message and let me know! God Bless!

How to Survive a Big Problem with a Little Faith

Have you ever been in a situation so long that you wonder if there’s anything left to life?

Sometimes, that wilderness we’re going through feels like a dark, empty cave. No one and nothing around to be seen or heard save for the echo of our weary cries and reminder of our problems bouncing off the piercing stalactites and stalagmites. Sometimes, the storm that rages overhead keeps getting darker, and we begin to doubt things will ever change for the better. The wildernesses and storms of our lives have a way of testing our faith so much that it wears thin. Let’s consider Peter for a moment in Matthew chapter 14:

24 “But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.

25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.

26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.

27 But straightaway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.

28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.

29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.

30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.

31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”

Here we have Jesus walking on the water, and Peter, after hearing Jesus announce that it is Him walking on the water, decides to join Jesus by getting out of the ship, stepping onto the sea, and walking on the water as well. Now, the sea often represented chaos and a hostile force to the Hebrews. So, not only is Peter walking on top of the storm, but he’s walking on top of a hostile force in a dangerous situation. For at least a few steps, Peter overcomes the storm and keeps his eyes on Jesus, but then he walks a few more steps. Then, he begins to look around and notice how big the waves are and how strong the wind is, and panic sets in. And as he’s worrying about the ongoing storm, he begins to sink. He calls out to Jesus to save him, and Jesus immediately takes his hand and says, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”

What happened to Peter? He was literally walking on water with Jesus. He was the one who called out to Jesus to walk on the water with Him. He must have had a bit more faith in that moment, but somewhere between the boat and the midst of the storm, Peter’s faith weakened.

Let’s be honest. In that moment, we’re probably all Peter. The longer a storm rages on, and the longer we’re in a difficult situation, the more we begin to panic. We look around at our situation and wonder, “God? I know You can do all things, but can You do all those things a little bit quicker? I’m trying to have faith, but those waves are getting higher, and the wind is picking up, and I’m starting to drown here. Just a little water in my lungs now, but things could go south pretty soon. I’m beginning to think there might not be a way out of this. What if this is my life now? What if this situation sweeps me away? What if things don’t get better?”

But just a little bit of faith is what helped save Peter from his situation.

He may have lost his faith that he could continue to walk atop the waves of the stormy sea, but when Jesus saved Peter, He stated that Peter had “little faith.” Yet it was just a little bit of faith that told Peter Jesus could still save him. Peter didn’t need big faith to know that in the middle of his situation, Jesus would come to his rescue.

When we’re in the middle of a difficult situation and staring down a big problem, it’s natural to panic. We’re only human, after all. We don’t have the ability on our own to look beyond the storm in the natural and see our salvation in the supernatural. We might let our faith dwindle when we’re stuck in the wilderness. But we mustn’t let our lack of big faith keep us from calling on our God. Peter didn’t wait around to call on Jesus, and when he did, Jesus immediately saved Peter who only had a little faith.

So, if you’re in the middle of a storm or a barren wilderness, you will survive if you hold on to your little bit of faith and call out to Jesus.

You know, today’s post was going to be different. I had a different theme in mind, especially since I wrote a post on faith several days ago. But this morning, I woke up with Peter’s story in my mind, and I couldn’t let it go.

Perhaps you’re going through your own storm and facing a big problem. Perhaps your faith has dwindled. Perhaps you’re discouraged. But even with your little bit of faith, God can and will still save you.

The Master of the sea is right there, waiting with His hand outstretched.