And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. (Matt 6:12)
When the reality of sin walks across the threshold of your mind, what action do you take? Do you try to blow it off, ignore it, make excuses for it, rationalize your way around it? Do you utter the words "that was then, I'm not that way now"? How do you make it right???
There are instances when the words "I'm sorry" are the only means of atonement. There are times when those words stick in our throats and we are unable to utter them because of we are so embarrassed and broken by what we've done. Sometimes there is no way to take back what was said or done. There is no way to "fix" it.
The remorse and regret we carry with us will also not serve as a tool for forgiveness. We need to remember to ask, then accept the consequences (either forgiven by those we've harmed or not forgiven). We humans have the capacity to forgive, yet many choose to harbor ill feelings and resentments towards those who we feel have harmed us by pronouncing sentence on them with the "I'll never forgive you" clause. How fortunate we are that God does not operate the same way.
We are all sinners. It's what we do. Every day we sin. We need to focus on asking for forgiveness right then and there. It is the only way to break the cycle of lying, cheating, stealing, fabrication, and the other harmful sins we commit. Rationalizing them away is not the answer nor is it a solution. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten us in the areas in which we are susceptible to the enemy's hold.
Deliberate disobedience towards what the Father has told us is wrong, is not a sin of omission - it is a sin of selfishness, greed and lust. It is taking what we want and not considering the effects our actions will have on someone else. Again, rationalizing that it is ours to begin with, doesn't make it any less offensive to God. Coming clean is sometimes the only way to quiet our guilty consciences. Justifying and rationalizing have no place in admitting we were wrong. Total honesty and humility are the only avenues we have from which to choose. Forgiveness for what we have done (or failed to do) ultimately comes from the Father. Our willingness to seek forgiveness is grounded in Jesus. Gather the strength and courage you need to set each one of your sins against others right. Call on the power of the Holy Spirit to guide you and strengthen you as you begin to clean up your messes. One at a time, maybe one each day - but start setting the record straight - you'll sleep better. Turn the corner today, make a new start and ask that your prayer be heard so that you can continue to walk without Satan dogging you over something you did 20 years ago. Don't give him any more power over you than he already has! Give the power back to God, and in doing so, you will glorify His name like never before!