"Come now, and let us reason together, says the LORD. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land;" (Isaiah 1:17-19; New King James Bible Version (NKJV).
"The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you." (Jeremiah 31:3; NKJV).
"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:35-39; King James Bible Version (KJV).
Well, here it is again: a brand new year. But in order to become a spiritual survival of all the chaos and bad things that seem to be just waiting to attack us in this new time ahead, we need to be mentally able to release ourselves from all the old 'bad' that we've experienced, or even caused, in the year behind us. We need to turn our gaze into our mental rear-view mirror, and release all of our human defeats, and faults, as well as any destruction we may have brought to ourselves, and others. If we don't, we will be taking our failures and regrets into the new day which is dawning before us, spoiling our days ahead with every step we take.
Some people can release their past mistakes more easily than others. Sometimes we can feel a sense of God's promise of new-beginnings and a clean slate; yet, other-times, we take a few of our regrets from the past and carry them, like heavy burdens (which we were not meant to carry) into the future with us.
So, why do we sometimes continue to carry guilt and shame forward as we go through life in this human experience? We do so because we don't trust the fact that God forgives our destructions when we stop doing them!
The divine Intelligence of God knows that, just as little children struggle when they are learning to walk properly, we are each learning to spiritually-walk properly. Do we punish our own small children for the mistakes and misjudgments they make in their early times of development? Of course not. We know that they are growing and developing beyond every mistake they make in their early times.
Even so, each time we honestly regret having done something wrong, or stupid (and maybe even asked God to forgive us) we have actually taken a right step forward. Our regret for wrongdoing shows that we have already outgrown our past, destructive actions. Each time we regret our own wrong-doings means that we have advanced, or spiritually matured a bit more—and we most likely won't make that particular mistake again.
But once we have faced our guilt of wrongful actions, fully repent of them, and recognize them as something to be discarded, we then must leave them, mentally, behind us. Thus, in order for us to take our progressive, spiritual steps forward we are not to hold on to any guilt of these past mistakes or destructive actions; nor are to hang them around our neck to carry forward into our new days before us.
Once we repent (are truly sorry for our wrongful behavior) God does not hold our past deeds against us. Our divine Parent only wants us to correct our unloving actions against ourselves and all others and replace them with good will toward all. This is why the Bible tells us of God that, "Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity:" (Habakkuk 1:13, to colon, KJV).
Thus, when we are moving forward in our spiritual development of good, we are not to keep gazing into our private, rear-view mirror. Instead, we are to look forward and live with our new-found wisdom of good, as we move on with our lives. The divine Intelligence knows that we will each, eventually, outgrow all destructive and evil tendencies; for we will see the natural consequences of them in our own human experience and see the peace, and even other forms of good, which right-thinking and right-acting bring into our daily lives.
The only time we should be careful, however, is when we don't regret the wrong and destructive things we do to others (and sometimes even to ourselves). The divine forgiveness does not activate on our behalf as long as we intend to repeat and repeat our destructions. Oh, we'll have many chances to stop doing that which goes against God's law of universal love for our spiritual brothers and sisters—but, sooner or later, our continued destructions will come home to roost.
God is patient with Its spiritual children…but we will not be 'safely secure' in God's forgiveness as long as we refuse to follow the divine laws of good-will to all. For a long time, the cosmic, divine laws of love may seem to tolerate wrong-doing. But when repentance seems impossible, and the time is right in God's eyes, the justice residing within the divine, universal love takes over, in order to protect, and compensate, those who have been victimized by such wrong doing.
It isn't God that punishes us, of course. It is our own destructive actions that naturally punish us, when we stubbornly live contrary to the universal law of love. Love must be a cosmic law, in order for universal harmony to exist. Thus, although God is a loving God, for universal harmony to exist in spiritual reality, the law of universal love will, eventually, punish whoever refuses to obey it—because destruction naturally brings disharmony back upon those who practice it.
The earlier concepts of the ancient world believed God to be a punisher, instead of a God of love. Yet, civilization advanced greatly when Christ Jesus preached that the character of God is one of unconditional Love—making forgiveness, instead of punishment, the main theme in Jesus' teachings. To show this to sinning humanity, Jesus once came upon a situation where a woman was going to be stoned (an ancient custom) for committing adultery. (The Biblical, full account of this incident is found in Chapter 8 of John; King James Bible). Here's a condensed version of that account:
"Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, they (said) unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?"
This they said, tempting him, that they might have (cause) to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them,
"He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."
And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, "Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?" She said, "No man, Lord." And Jesus said unto her, "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."
What Jesus, the spiritual way-shower was illustrating, was that punishment for breaking a biblical law was not God's real purpose; for the only directive Jesus gave to the guilty woman was, "go and sin no more."
In this statement, the Master was showing that God's only response to the wrong-doing of Its divine children was neither punishment nor revenge. Instead, just like any loving, human parent dealing with a misbehaving child, stopping wrong action, due to repentance of wrong-doing, is always the right remedy. Why? Because to turn from bad to good is a spiritualization of our human thinking, and future actions, until we have changed enough to truly represent God's own children—His spiritual off-spring. To turn from the humanly wrong, to the divinely right, is always the only requirement. It is the only requirement because it is the only thing that fulfills the divine law of universal Love for God, ourselves, and all others we know or meet.
Destructive actions range from mild unkindness to criminal activity. Yet, at any moment in time, when we honestly turn from our destructions, (large or small) the divine Intelligence of God will present the way to atone for whatever wrong we've done, to ourselves or to others. God never ceases to teach us the right way to go, in order to make up for our bad past behavior. A second chance to fix things will always be coming along…or even a third, fourth or fifth chance. Our divine Parent is, indeed, a God of Second Chances—until we finally get it right.