(I read this little article penned by Charles Swindoll which I’d like to share with you.)
Once you have placed your trust in Jesus Christ to save you from the penalty of your sin, you never again have to worry about condemnation—not from other people and not even from God (Romans 8:1). Guilt and shame have no place in the life of a believer; however, we are still prone to sin. We will fail in our efforts to live a life that honors God, and we inevitably harm others by the poor choices we make and the sinful acts we commit. Because Jesus paid the penalty for our sin, we will never suffer the eternal consequences for our wrongdoing. However, unresolved sin can complicate our lives with earthly consequences, frustrate the Lord’s desire to bless us, and cause others great heartache. Despite our secure relationship with God, sin is still a deadly serious matter.
Fortunately, the Lord has given us a means by which we can clear away the clutter of wrongdoing. If you have unresolved sin in your life, consider taking the following steps, which give practical application to principles taught in Scripture.
Stop. Accept the truth of your poor choices or outright sin and own the responsibility for the damage your action or inaction has caused.
Confess. Confess your failure to the Lord in prayer and commit yourself to turning from it. Ask Him for His help. He has promised to provide you with the strength to meet this challenge (1 Corinthians 10:13). If your sin has harmed another person, go to him or her and admit how you have failed or have contributed to making a situation worse. Be careful not to include any mention of his or her wrongdoing (even if it is greater than your own), and resist the temptation to minimize yours.
Restore. Apologize, showing genuine concern for how you have hurt the other person and damaged your relationship. Your authentic sorrow should reflect the intensity of his or her pain.
Rest. Receive the Lord’s forgiveness and accept that the other person may or may not respond as you might desire.
Forgiveness is not something you deserve or have the right to demand. His or her choice to forgive must be made freely.
Review. Without being too hard on yourself, try to discover why you chose to act as you did. Choices arise from expectations—usually unconscious ones. Ask the Lord to show you what you don’t see so that you can replace destructive coping with constructive choosing (Psalm 139:23-24). Then ask Him to cleanse your heart of any desire for sin (Psalm 51:10).
This is not a magic formula. It is not something you must do to please God or to earn His favor. Because Christ died for your sin and rose from the dead to give you life, your heavenly Father will always be pleased with you. These steps are merely a means by which you can keep your life free from the distractions and hindrances of unresolved sin. The Lord has blessings in store that exceed your wildest imaginings. Don’t let anything come between you!