Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Go in Peace

Leslie Basham: Do you ever have trouble forgiving yourself? Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has good news.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Scripture doesn’t ask you to forgive yourself. It doesn’t tell you to forgive yourself. You won’t find that anywhere in Scripture. It says, “Your sins, which are many, have been forgiven.” You can’t forgive your own sins, but God can. Jesus can. He paid the price for your sins.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Brokenness, for May 24, 2019.

Nancy’s here to wrap up the series from Luke chapter 7 called, “Who Loves More?”

Nancy: Hester Prynne is the main character in a story written by Nathaniel Hawthorne set in seventeenth century Puritan Massachusetts. In the story, Hester has an affair. She conceives and gives birth to a baby girl. And then, scandalous as this is, she’s brought before a crowd to receive her punishment. The punishment is that whenever she’s in public, she’s required to wear a scarlet letter “A” on her dress. It’s never said what the “A” stands for, but it’s assumed that it stands for adultery. And so Hester lives for years, as her little girl grows up, with public humiliation and shame.

Now, the father of the child, as it turns out, is also the minister of Hester’s church. His name is Arthur Dimmesdale. Hester refuses to expose him or to reveal is identity, but Dimmesdale is tormented by a guilty conscience. He lives with deep, private shame, in fear of being found out, until just before the end of his life.

This issue of shame, whether public . . . Do you feel like you’re wearing the letter “A” around all the time? “A” for addict? “A” for adulterer? “A” for alcoholic? Or another letter for something else? Public shame or, for some, like Dimmesdale, private shame?

This issue is huge for many women, sometimes due to their own sin, sometimes the fruit of the sins that others have committed against them for which they still feel ashamed themselves, and sometimes, maybe often, a combination of both.

I’ve been thinking about this thing of shame as I’ve been meditating on the passage we’ve been looking at in Luke chapter 7, of the sinner woman. As this series first unfolded, I thought it was going to be just four programs, and that we would end with the last one, which was on forgiveness. But the more I dug into this, the more I thought, We need to do a session on shame because I think there’s a clue here in the last part of this passage that gives us some insight into dealing with shame.

So let me read beginning in verse 36 of Luke 7. For those who’ve not been joining us, you can go back to ReviveOurHearts.com. You can hear the first four days of this series. I’m going to read the entire passage so that we get the context for the last part that we’re going to look at today.

Hear the Word of the Lord.

One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and reclined at table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner . . .

You see the contrast between the two? Simon the Pharisee has this house, has this nice dinner. And this woman, the sinner woman from the city. She comes into this house uninvited, and we’re going to see what she does.

When she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind Jesus at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.

Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner."

And Jesus answering said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." And he answered, "Say it, Teacher." "A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, [about a year-and-a-half’s worth of wages], and the other fifty [about two months’ worth of wages]. When they could not pay, [either one of them] the moneylender cancelled [graciously, freely forgave] the debt of both. Now which of them, Simon, will love him more?" Simon answered, "The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt." And he said to him, "You have judged rightly."

Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, Simon, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven [cancelled, graciously, freely forgiven. How many denarii did she owe? It doesn’t matter—fifty or 500, she’s forgiven] for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, Simon, loves little." [That’s you I’m talking to. You can just feel the tension in the room. Simon’s squirming.]

And Jesus then turns to the woman and says [oh how sweet is this to hear Jesus say this to you—no matter where you’ve been, what you’ve done, no matter how addicted you’ve been, no matter how many secret sins you’ve never told anybody about, no matter how proud, arrogant, self-righteous, self-sufficient you’ve been, to hear Jesus the Savior say to you), "Your sins have been forgiven." [Whew! It’s huge!]

Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, "Who is this, who even forgives sins?" [They knew it was huge.] And he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace" (vv. 36–50).

Now, I want to make sure we understand a couple of things from this passage what it’s not saying before we talk about what it is saying.

This woman was not saved by her tears, by her devotion, by the gift that she brought—that alabaster box. She was saved the same way anybody is saved, any sinner, by grace through faith.

There are no good works that are enough. Simon didn’t have enough good works. She didn’t have enough good works. Simon’s boss didn’t have enough good works to save them. Her works, her love, her worship, her offering were the evidence of her faith that had saved her.

Warren Wiersbe puts it this way in talking about this passage. He said, “We are not saved by faith plus works; we are saved by a faith that leads to works.”

Or this by John MacArthur: “Her love and the good deeds she had done to Him were the result of her salvation, not its cause. Salvation is by faith alone and produces eternal peace.”

So Jesus says to this woman, “Your sins have been forgiven. Go in peace.” Or it could also be translated, “Go into peace. Go your way in peace. Go in peace.”

Yes, this woman was a sinner. Jesus acknowledged that. Her sins, “which are many, have been forgiven.” Yes, she was a sinner. Yes, her sins were many. But now she had been forgiven. She was not the same person she had been before. And Jesus wanted her to experience freedom from guilt and shame.

The two things, among others, that sin puts as a heavy weight upon sinners:

Guilt—because we know we’re sinners. We know we’re wrong. We know we’ve violated God’s law. Guilt—we should experience guilt until we’ve been forgiven. And the point of forgiveness is to release us from guilt.

But then sometimes there’s that lingering shame that wraps itself around your heart, your emotions, your thoughts, and hangs on like a piece of wet clothing you can’t get off.

This woman had lived a long time, presumably . . . She was known as a “woman in the city, who was a sinner.” That was her identity. She’d lived a long time in her sinful lifestyle, and who could have blamed her if she had wondered, Could she ever really be different?

Sinner was her identity. Sin patterns were her patterns. Right? So what would she do now for a living, among other things? She had this terrible reputation in town, especially among the religious folks. She had experienced rejection. Simon would have thrown her out of that place if he could have. If he knew who this woman was, he wouldn’t let her touch him.

She was rejected, in those days, just to be a woman. It was one strike against you. And then to be a sinner woman, defiled. Here’s this woman who has in her heart a desire we all have for acceptance, but she had experienced rejection.

I mean, I don’t know the details of her story, but I think if we try and just put ourselves in her sandals for just a little bit, we can sense how hard this might have been for her to wonder what would happen in the future. She knew what her past was. She knew what had just happened with Jesus’ forgiveness. She knew she’d loved Him and worshiped Him, but what about her whole future lying ahead of her?

And Jesus said to her: “Your sins have been forgiven. Go in peace.” Go into peace. The verb there is “to go on your way.”

“Don’t just stay here, loving Me, worshiping Me. You keep loving Me and worshiping Me, but you’ve got a life to live. You can’t stay at this dinner the rest of your life. Go on your way in peace.” This woman had experienced anything but that. Her past would have said, “How could she ever go on her way in peace after all she’d done, who she was?”

Your sins may have been many. All our sins have been many. And Jesus says to you: “Your sins have been forgiven. Go in peace. Go into peace. Go on your way in peace. Move forward in peace.”

  • Go in peace. Move forward from this place knowing that you have peace with God. You’re no longer His enemy. You’re no longer at war with Him. And you can walk in and be filled with the peace of God. Go in peace.
  • Go in peace knowing that you now have a new identity, new relationships, a new calling.
  • Go in peace knowing that Jesus has paid the price for your sin.
  • Go in peace knowing and believing these wonderful promises, these amazing promises that He has given you in His Word.

Let me just give you a few. If you find the shame and guilt, the memories, the pain, the sense you can’t be released from this, you know you’ve been forgiven, but you don’t feel forgiven; then it’s hard to go in peace. Let me just give you some promises to cling to, to renew your mind with truth.

Romans 5, verse 1—you might want to write these references down: “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” You need to tell your heart that’s what Scripture says is true of you if you’ve been justified through faith in Christ.

Romans 8, verse 1: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Go in peace.

Psalm 103, verses 8–12: “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. . . . He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. [Who could survive that?] But as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;as far as the east is from the west, so far does he [what?] remove our transgressions from us.”

These are verses you may want to memorize, verses you want to focus on, renew your mind with when shame and guilt threaten to take you under.

Micah 7, verses 18–19—I love this passage: “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love.He will again have compassion on us;he will tread our iniquities underfoot.You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”

How many of our sins?

Audience responds: All

Nancy: All of them. You say, “Well, I know all of those, but . . .” Yeah, but what? Which one will He not cast into the depths of the sea? And if He has delighted in steadfast love, if He has pardoned iniquity, if He has passed over your transgression, if He says He will tread your iniquities underfoot, what right do you have to let those sins have a choke hold in your life?

So many women live with shame, with guilt. It hangs on. It clings to them. Women who say, “But I’ve repented. I know in my head I’ve been forgiven, but I just don’t feel it.” Here’s what a lot of them say, although you won’t find this term in Scripture, they say, “I just can’t forgive myself for what I did.” And that is probably, in most cases, a giveaway to the presence of shame.

Scripture doesn’t ask you to forgive yourself. It doesn’t tell you to forgive yourself. You won’t find that anywhere in Scripture. It says, “Your sins, which are many, have been forgiven.” You can’t forgive your own sins, but God can. Jesus can. He paid the price for your sins.

And so, when God’s Word says He’ll tread your iniquities underfoot, He’ll pardon iniquity, He’ll pass over transgression, He will cast all your sins into the depths of the sea, what sin could you have committed that that doesn’t include?

Now, you may still say, “I don’t feel forgiven.” I will say there is often time needed to renew your mind with the promises of God’s Word, ones like the ones I’m giving you here. You’ve worn a rut into your thinking of shame and guilt. And sometimes you just need to keep counseling your mind and your heart according to truth. “Yes, I feel this, but . . . here’s what God’s Word says.”

This woman had nothing to cling to except the word of Christ: “Your sins, which are many, have been forgiven. Go in peace.”

You need a few more verses?

Proverbs 28, verse 13: “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, [I think that might be for Simon, the Pharisee] but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” Have you confessed your sin? Have you forsaken it? Thank Jesus for mercy. Thank Him for it whether you feel you have it or not. Praise demonstrates faith.

First Corinthians 6, verses 9 through 11: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers [and you just feel like you could say, “Nor any other sinners.” None of these will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. [Such was this woman.] But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Your sins, which are many, have been forgiven. Go your way in peace. Go on in peace. Go on in His peace. You’re no longer defined by your background, by the identity that was yours in that past life.

We listened to Jackie’s testimony not too long ago, we aired it recently in this room on Revive Our Hearts. Jackie, have you ever had to just deal with shame, guilt? Ever feel like it was clinging to you? But you’ve walked in truth. You’re walking in truth. You keep walking in truth. And now you’re helping others walk in truth. You’re walking forward in peace. I love it!

You may have sinned greatly. Who hasn’t? You may have been sinned against greatly. Who hasn’t? And it may take time to deal with the sense of guilt and shame and to experience full freedom and restoration for your mind and your emotions. But here’s the fact: If you’re in Christ, you have a new identity. You don’t need to go on forever living as a struggling, needy woman.

I find that some women, and I want to say this carefully, develop a new identity as a needy counselee. Now, I’m not saying don’t get counseling. Godly counsel can be a really helpful tool that God uses to help you renew your mind. But you don’t want to be a needy woman who never goes forward in peace. That’s not your identity. So don’t trade your identity of sin and shame for a new identity of forgiveness and shame. Your sins, which are many, have been forgiven. Go in peace.

As the Lord would have it, I got a call the other day from a sweet friend of mine who is involved in leading a kind of halfway house for women coming out of prison who’ve dealt with substance and addiction issues, all kinds of issues. It’s hard work. We started talking about this passage. I told her, “I wish you could be here today so you could hear her talk about it.”

But I was taking notes as fast as I could. I had a little Post-it, a thing of Post-it notes with me. Robert walked in when I was, like, on about number nine. It was late at night, and I was just trying to capture what she was saying because the women she’s dealing with get this. And my friend gets it because she’s been there.

She talked about some of the residents they have. One is a woman in her forties who, when she was five or six years old, her dad would put her on a table in a room full of men, spin her around, and whichever one she landed on would get her for the night. Decades later, it still affects that woman’s identity. That woman doesn’t have any memory—ever—of sexual purity.

There’s another woman there who’s a younger woman, a baby Christian. She’s always been sexually active—men, women—it didn’t matter. She had no idea that homosexuality was wrong. She’d just always been sexually loved. It didn’t matter who it was. And she felt free as long as she was doing that. Now she’s become a Christian, and now she’s got temptation she’s dealing with.

It’s harder now in a way. It wasn’t harder before because she was just giving into it. Now she’s fighting a battle with who she is now in Christ, but that old temptation comes. And sometimes, my friend was saying to me, “Just the temptation itself can bring up all the shame.”

And my friend said, “The biggest challenge for these women—and I think it’s true for all of us—is to redirect their thinking, to help them understand: You don’t have to think that way anymore. Now your identity is who you are in Christ now: Righteous, holy, a follower of Christ.”

And she said: “What I have to do is get these women to renew their mind with the Word of God, to put on the mind of Christ.”

She said, “A lot of times, they don’t know how to do this. So you sit down with them. You pull out your Bible, and you say, ‘Here. Read this. What does that say? Who are you now? Not who were you, but what’s your new identity?’”

She said, “First you have to deal with the guilt—believe you’re forgiven.”

But she said, and I thought this was interesting, “Sometimes shame is even harder to deal with than guilt.” She was talking out of some of her own experience, too. She said, “Shame can linger. It’s embarrassing. It’s almost paralyzing. It makes you feel like you can’t go forward. It makes you feel like you’re in prison. It’s captivating; it can be a prison.”

But she said, “I have to help these women understand (what she has learned herself) to go on living in shame is to say, ‘God can’t redeem this brokenness.’”

He can. He does. He will. And this is what He came to redeem.

So she said to me, “These women have to get a right view of God. As they experience His unconditional love and forgiveness and develop a relationship with Him, that will change how they view themselves. They’ll realize that God’s not made at them. He doesn’t see them as dirty and broken. He came. He sent His Son to redeem that brokenness.”

Jesus went to Simon’s house to redeem twosinners—Simon the Pharisee and the “sinner woman.”

Which do you relate to the most?

  1. The sinner woman? If so, you may be tempted to find your identity in your “many sins”—what you have done.
  2. You relate to the Pharisee more? If so, you may be tempted to find your identity in what you haven’t done—in your own goodness. And of the two, this is probably the more dangerous.

The sinner woman is more likely to respond to the gospel before the Pharisee because the Pharisee thinks, “I don’t need this.” They need to be reminded—we need to be reminded—that “there is none good, no not one.”

Over the last few weeks, as I’ve been working on this series, I’ve been in communication with a woman who’s been dealing with some deeply painful stuff in her past. It involves having been sinned against in some enormous ways by men that she should have been able to trust. It also led to some sinful responses and patterns on her part. She’s confessed those. She’s repented of that sin, (though the men involved have never acknowledged their sin), but this woman has continued to struggle with lingering shame.

I’ve watched her choose the pathway of repentance over the course of a couple of years, and I’ve been eager for her to be free from the burden of shame, to be able to walk in the full grace and freedom that Christ purchased for her. And over the last few weeks, as I’ve been living in this passage, I’ve taken her back repeatedly, as we’ve texted, repeatedly to the words of Jesus to the sinner woman in Luke 7: “Your sins (which are many) have been forgiven. Go in peace.”

This woman met recently with a godly couple to discuss all this, and she shared with me afterwards what they said to her at the end of the evening. They said, “From everything you’ve shared, it seems to us that you have repented. This is gone before God. Live a life of ongoing repentance; but this is no longer your life and no longer the focus of your repentance. There is freedom and peace from this (that is the past) now.”

To which I responded in a text: “Your sins (which are many) have been forgiven. Go in peace.” (Signed, Jesus)

And, oh Jesus, how I pray that some women walking, maybe wallowing, in shame this day will believe the gospel, that their sins have been forgiven, and they may now go forward on in peace, that You may be magnified through their lives. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is inviting you to experience freedom from shame and sin. She just wrapped up a series from Luke 7 on God’s love for sinners, which, of course, is all of us.

We’re able to bring you encouraging teaching like that because of those who give to Revive Our Hearts. And, Nancy, we’ve heard from a lot of those generous listeners this month.

Nancy: I’ve been so encouraged to hear from so many listeners who’ve said, “We believe in this ministry, and we want to see it continue.” Thank you! Thank you for supporting us as we face this fiscal year-end need.

And, again, if you want to see where we are today, you can go to our website, look at the progress bar, and it’ll tell you how far we have left to go. I know there are a lot of listeners who’ve wanted to give to the need but haven’t done it yet. You can give your gift by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can call us at 1–800–569–5959.

Leslie: On Monday, Nancy is joined in the studio by a friend of Revive Our Hearts, Ed Cannon, from the Far East Broadcasting Company. He has a helpful perspective on the needs people face, not only here in the U.S., but around the world. He says you and I can be part of fulfilling the Great Commission.

Have a wonderful holiday weekend, and join us on Monday for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants you to live in freedom. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV unless otherwise noted.

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