“But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned – every one – to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all…
Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.”
Isaiah 53:5-6, 10-11
God the Father placed our guilt, our sin – all of it – on Jesus, who took it on and fully paid its price.
In forgiving ourselves, we must do the same: place our guilt and debt on Jesus, allowing Him to take it and recognizing the fullness and amazing choice of what He has done, and accept that He has taken all our iniquity on Himself. We place it on Him and walk forward in the freedom He already paid the price for.
It feels deeply wrong. He doesn’t deserve our sin and guilt. We don’t deserve Him to take it away…but that’s what His love chose. He chose salvation for us. He chose to save us instead of Himself, which is what the Jewish religious leaders didn’t understand (Mark 15:31). His death was not weakness or defeat; it was great power and victory for the joy He saw before Him.
And out of the anguish of His soul, He saw the light of our salvation, the restoration of making us and all things new, the transformation in bringing us from darkness and death into light – and He was satisfied.
Forgiving ourselves is recognition that the cross was enough punishment (because God is just) and that it is wrong for us to keep heaping punishment on ourselves, adding to what Jesus did. It is recognition that even though our guilt is not Christ’s, He wants to take it from us.
That is the whole reason He came, and lived, and spoke, and died horrifically, and rose again, and draws us to Himself. To take our guilt and shame upon Himself and fully away from us, that we may know Him. To keep some of the guilt denies the glory and power of what He has done. His love doesn’t want us to miss this, to miss His freedom and beauty and relationship.
When I imagine Jesus taking my guilt, the picture of Him taking a filthy garment off of me and putting it on Himself, my insides recoil. There is a perception that it would make Him dirty. Such an injustice, to bring filth upon One who is holiness, purity, beauty, majesty, and light.
But that isn’t what happens.
Like the sick and lost whom Jesus touched to heal – the lepers He reached out to in compassion, those with blood-related diseases, the sinners exposed in their darkness – our uncleanness, our filth, does not make Him unclean. It is eradicated at His touch. All of it, gone.
That is the power of His holiness and love. His holiness heals it all and makes us holy, like Him.
Jesus died so this could happen. He rejoices every time it does. All of heaven rejoices when it does! (Luke 15:4-7)
He delights in our freedom, and the Father shouts deliverance over us when we are forgiven. He shouts deliverance (Psalm 32:7). He sings (Zephaniah 3:17). He calls our name to follow Him (John 10:3-4). He loves us with a wholeness and steadfastness beyond what we can imagine (Isaiah 49:15-16). And He will never, ever let us go (John 10:28-29).
Cast all your concerns on Him, for He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). Pour out your heart before Him, for He is your refuge (Psalm 62:8). Let all guilt, remorse, and shame drive you close to Him, and bask in the glorious light of His powerful love as Jesus says to you, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure garments.”
“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, ‘Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.’”
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
2 Corinthians 5:21