Long ago, I got myself caught up in a shameful behaviour. So grievous was this sin – so I thought at the time – that I felt I had fallen short of God’s mercy. Although I had been saved at the time, I never understood the depth and length of God’s love for me. Each time I stood before God in prayer or to minister, the thought of what I had done would come to mind and I would feel a fresh flow of guilt. What justification do I have to talk to God or bless His people, I would ask. Yes, I had initially felt bad about what I did and repented of it. However, I never felt a one-time confession of sin was enough to atone for it so I kept confessing and asking God for forgiveness. The more I allowed guilt over the situation, the more awkward and distant my relationship with God got. But thanks to the light and correction that God’s word brings. I got myself straightened up – no more to wallow in the pool of self-condemnation.
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. (Rom8:1)
To think that we can do penance for a misbehaviour is to walk in unbelief. Does this mean a believer shouldn’t feel bad for a shortcoming? No! The Bible speaks of a godly sorrow (remorse) which leads to repentance. When a believer does wrong, he acknowledges the wrong and feels remorseful for it. Nevertheless, to continue to wallow in the pool of regret is to make the finished work of Christ of no value. On the cross, Christ not only took away the sins of the past but also made provisions for latter shortcomings. Most Christians sell themselves short and rob themselves off benefits by allowing the devil minister sin/guilt consciousness to them. John in 1John2:2 instructs that we sin not. However, peradventure we find ourselves in a fault, God has provided us an advocate – Jesus Christ the righteous. This provision however does not cover wilful disobedience/sin – for a child of God is not prone to sins or indulge in it (that will be contrary to his nature).
It’s a lie from the pit of hell to think that God keeps record of sins and holds a man accountable to them. It’s equally sad and disturbing when a man won’t forgive himself for a sin that God has forgiven him. Such believer would be trying to operate under the canopy of righteousness by works. No amount of self-loathing can take away our sins – Christ has died!
If men under the old dispensation knew about God’s undying love and compassion, what then should be the excuse of today’s believer? David was a man of many shortcomings. He however was a man with a contrite heart. He never wallowed in a sin neither did he weigh himself down under its burden. Out of his travails, he spoke forth the mind of God:
Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sins is covered.
Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord inputeth not iniquity and in whose spirit there is no guile. (Psalms 32:1-2)
Peter was a disciple of Christ and so was Judas Iscariot. Despite their level of relationship/association with Christ, both fell into sin: Peter denied Christ thrice while Judas betrayed and sold out Christ. Upon the realisation of his fault, Peter felt remorseful (truly sorry for his sin) and got back on track. He actually rose to become the lead apostle and leader of the early church. Judas on the other hand came to the awareness of his sins and felt guilty. Like some folks, he felt his sin was too grievous to be forgiven. The devil made him think he had to pay a costly price for his sins by committing suicide. Herein lies what distinguish Peter’s reaction to sin from Judah’s: Peter had the right attitude/mind-set) concerning repentance while Judas got it all wrong.
Bear in mind that a believer cannot be prone to sin wilfully because his spirit is the Spirit of God (1John3:9). Whosoever take the grace of God as liberty to sin is certainly not of God (Gal 5:13). However, because we (believers) are spirit beings residing in a body of flesh, we sometimes can be liable to misbehave. When this happen, God’s mercy shows up and restores us. Even when our hearts appear to play tricks on us (condemn us), God is greater than our hearts (1John3:20).
God does not convict the believer of sins; rather, He convicts them of righteousness (John16:8). The devil accuses and inflicts guilt. Little wonder he is called the accuser of the brethren (Rev12:10). So when you beat yourself up over something unbecoming you’ve done, you are actually not repentant but working in unbelief – giving the devil a free course in your life. I’m yet to discover a sin which the Blood of Jesus cannot take care of. Harbouring guilt/doubt/self-loathing/shame is a trait of unrepentance and a sin on its own. Whatever blood Christ is going to shed for sins has been shed once and for all (Heb9:2,10:10). There is no more offering for sins (Heb10:18). Christ has no other blood to shed again hence no need for us to hold ourselves prisoners for a debt that has already been paid for. If God rejects men (believers) the moment they go wrong, the sacrifice of Christ would have been for nothing.
When next you feel overwhelmed by a fault/sin and think God has forsaken you, think upon these golden lines:
For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness and their iniquities will I remember no more. (Heb8:12)