I think in my experience with religion, guilt seems to always be part of the equation. Throughout the years, whether it was intentionally taught in that way or not, it’s how I perceived it. In my mind, if I feel guilty enough, then I would better appreciate the cross, I would find motivation to change, to do better.
Unfortunately, it seems like a lot of people feel this way. If you’re like me, it’s also something you don’t really question. It’s just the way it is.
Lately others and myself are calling into question this belief of mine.
I’m getting encouragement to dig in a little deeper and see how God really sees me. Surprisingly, guilt is not part of his equation. Which completely changes how I look at everything else.
So now I have a lot of questions: how can God see all of me, with all of my sin, and still love me? If I don’t have to feel guilty, what should I be feeling (and doing) instead? What happens if I miss something or do something wrong? It’s more difficult to embrace than I would hope.
First, let’s start with the scriptures.
Then we can talk a bit more about what I’m actually getting out of it.
This one is my absolute favorite, especially in this translation:
“Where is the god who can compare with you – wiping the slate clean of guilt, turning a blind eye, a deaf ear, to the past sins of your purged and precious people? You don’t nurse your anger and don’t stay angry long, for mercy is your specialty. That’s what you love most. And compassion is on its way to us. You’ll stamp out our wrongdoing. You’ll sink our sins to the bottom of the ocean.” – Micah 7:18-20 MSG
“If that animal blood and the other rituals of purification were effective in cleaning up certain matters of our religion and behavior, think how much more the blood of Christ cleans up our whole lives, inside and out. Through the Spirit, Christ offered himself as an unblemished sacrifice, freeing us from all those dead-end efforts to make ourselves respectable, so that we can live all out for God.” – Hebrews 9:14-15 MSG (emphasis mine)
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit I you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God.” – Ezekiel 36:26-28 NIV
“Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: ‘Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.‘” – Revelation 12:10 NIV (emphasis mine)
“Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” – Hebrews 10:11-14 NIV (emphasis mine)
“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” – Psalm 103:8-12 NIV
“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtains, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” – Hebrews 10:19-21 NIV (emphasis mine)
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” – Romans 8:1-2 NIV
“Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life, is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” – Romans 8:33-34 NIV
“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” – Psalm 34:4-5 NIV
So where am I at with all of this?
Honestly, it’s a lot harder to accept this than you would think. I can’t seem to let go of my guilt/do better mentality; it feels like such a huge change. I love the thought of it, but am having a hard time embracing it.
So how about you? What helps you realize God’s grace and get rid of the guilt? What scriptures help?
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The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson