Haunted by past sin

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I have been in close contact with a friend that is having a difficult time with forgiveness.  It isn’t others that have hurt him, it isn’t a job or an enemy, it is himself.  In dealing with this issue this friend has practiced escapism in the form of drugs and alcohol.  So the question has been before me and there is no simple answer other than to make it a matter of fervent prayer before God… Are we confessing our sin to Christ and taking his righteousness to forgive us?

Yet I found myself giving and answer and then looking for verses to support my statement.  Doh!  Here is what I said:

“Don’t stay trapped in the past, remain aware of it, but leave it behind.  We must press through the internal struggle and find satisfaction and joy in making each new day a day for God’s glory.  If we don’t forgive ourselves of our sin, we rob God of the victory and worship that we should be giving Him over our past!”

Instead of making it better I seemed to have pushed my friend into a deeper depression and facing despair my friend asks, “I don’t know how God could forgive me my sins when I can’t even forgive myself for my sin!”

Now this I could deal with… There is scripture to help us face our sin and find the victory in Christ!

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9

Confession and forgiveness is an on going process for me, setting up my life to be constantly reminded to do the right things, to be on guard against the flesh.  But am I clean from all unrighteousness?

Webster’s Dictionary defines confession as this.

Confession:  an act of confessing; especially :  a disclosure of one’s sins
in the sacrament of reconciliation

What was that?  a Sacrament of reconciliation?  Now I am not catholic but I do see that we may have “tossed the baby out with the bathwater” so to speak!  While we are often quick to confess, we forget that we are confessing for reconciliation to God through Christ.  No I don’t believe that you need to go to a priest, but we do need to have a way of confession and reconciliation.

How do you deal with forgiveness and reconciliation?  Have you been favoring one over the other?  How do Christians find forgiveness and be cleansed unto righteousness?