John Wesley on Forgiveness (4)

Indeed, the leading of the Spirit is different in different souls. His more usual method, I believe, is, to give, in one and the same moment, forgiveness of sins, and a full assurance of that forgiveness. Yet in many he works as he did in me; giving first the remission of sins, and after some weeks, or months, or years, the full assurance of it.

The Principles of a Methodist 8.371

Did you catch the theological richness in this short passage? Here Wesley reminds us that forgiveness is a gift of God made manifest by the Holy Spirit. It usually brings an awareness of being forgiven, but sometimes it does not. So Wesley is reminding us that those of us who are in Christ are forgiven, and our forgiveness is not contingent on our awareness of it. This was Wesley’s case and for someone like me, who for years was haunted by the notion that I could not possibly be forgiven because my sins were so bad—an issue that still rears its ugly head in me on occasion—this was a huge relief. If you are likewise struggling, I pray God will speak to you in the same way he did to Wesley and to me.