The foundation for all victory over sin is the understanding that God is tender and full of kindness and love.
“Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth’” (Jeremiah 9:23–24).
If you have walked with the Lord for any length of time, you probably have encouraged others that God is gracious and forgiving. Now, let me ask you: When you fail the Lord, is it suddenly a different matter? Do you find yourself working through terrible feelings of guilt and shame?
You may say, "Shouldn't we experience that when we sin?" Indeed, those feelings are the natural result of sin. But as children of God we are not supposed to continue for days and weeks thinking that our Father is mad at us. Because of Christ's provision on the cross, all guilt and condemnation may be lifted quickly.
Still, even after we've repented, we may feel we have to make up our failures to the Lord. Like the Prodigal Son, we can have the Father hugging us, putting a ring on our finger and a robe on our back. He tells us to forget the past and enjoy the feast he has prepared for us.
But inside we protest, "I’m not worthy! I've sinned against the Lord. I've got to show him I'm sorry."
Many Christians find it easy to believe that God forgave Israel's gross sins. We have no trouble accepting that he forgave Nineveh in the Old Testament and the dying thief in the New Testament. But, oddly, it's hard for us to grasp that the moment we turn to him in repentance he quickly and lovingly accepts us as if we had never sinned.