Think of the worst thing you’ve done in your life. In the back of your mind, does it still haunt you? Do you view yourself in light of this sin? Does it seem like a big ink stain that has marred a portion or all of your life?
As believers, we know that God can save us from our sins and that we are no longer condemned under His law. Yet, when we fall into sin, we often feel as if we have fallen out of God’s grace. It seems as though God is happy with us when our lives are lived according to His Word, but the moment we slip into sin, we are overwhelmed with a sense of guilt and the feeling that God is angry with us. In order to get back into good standing with Him, we have to work extra hard for a long time to make up for our past actions. Then, just as we feel like we’ve reached a good place, another sin pops up, and the guilt comes back. This sense of guilt can become a serious stumbling block in our lives because it is a failure to fully recognize the strength of God’s mercy. If we are constantly paralyzed by a fear of falling from God’s grace, then we will never be able to serve Him with clear consciences.
David is a wonderful example of the mercy of God worked in the life of a sinner. He was an adulterer and a murderer, and he knew the seriousness of his actions. In Psalm 32:3-4 he wrote, “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.” David was suffering under a load of guilt. It weighed on him heavily, sapping the life and energy from him, but he did not stop there. “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’; and You forgave the guilt of my sin.”
This is where we find relief from guilt: If we call upon the Lord and truly repent of our sins, He will forgive us.
It’s not a question of how squeaky clean our lives are. Just like David, we are all flawed in so many ways. It’s simply a question of whether or not we have been saved by the death of Jesus. “’Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord, ‘Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be white as snow’” (Is. 1:18).
When we think back to the worst sins we’ve committed, it’s easy to still view ourselves as covered in scarlet sins, but when the Father looks at His children, He sees us as clothed in pure white, covered in the righteousness of Jesus, who is more radiant than the Sun. God is not so fickle as to cleanse us from our sins one day because we were making an extra effort, and then to take that cleansing away when we fall into sin again. When He washed away our sins, it covered the ones we previously committed, the ones we are currently dealing with, and the ones that are yet to come.
When a child is disobedient, his parent does not withhold love from him. While there is disappointment and sorrow at his failures, a parent’s love withstands all of it and holds firm no matter what the child has done. It is not based on the child’s performance, but rather on a love for him that has been there from the beginning and will never cease. How much more does God’s love withstand our faults! He doesn’t love us based on what we do for Him: how much we pray, how much we read the Bible, how much we try to conquer sin in our lives. That is not to say that these things aren’t important. They are essential to our growth as Christians, but Jesus’ love isn’t based on our having become right with Him. Rather, we are right with Him because of His love for us.
Matthew 11:28 says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Are you weary of carrying around a burden of guilt? Jesus died for you in order to take away the weight of your sins, not so that you would pick back up your burden of guilt every time you fall. This is not, as some suppose, license to live as you choose. Rather, it is freedom to actually obey the Lord, something you are unable to do when living with guilt. You are called to take God’s yoke upon you, and you, and have, therefore, a responsibility to live in the light of His Word. However, God’s yoke is nothing like your burden of guilt. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light, for He is always gentle with His children. Do not stay silent about your sins! Call upon Jesus. Lay your burden at the foot of the cross, and He will give you rest. You are forever free from the consequences of sin; and, therefore, free to serve your Maker.