Categories
forgiveness

Like It Never Even Happened

Do we still feel guilt for sins God has forgiven?

Have you ever heard of Wite-Out™? I’m pretty old, so I remember it well. In a world with no word-processing software, Wite-Out™ allowed you to cover a mistake with correction fluid and then type over it instead of throwing away the document and starting over.

Of course, it didn’t make the mistake go away. The mistake was still there—it was just hidden. With word processing, one keystroke erased the mistake forever.

Isaiah 1:18 says, “Come now and let’s deliberate over the next steps to take together…” The word translated as, “deliberate,” means to judge, to convict or clear. It is a judicial word and implies deliberation in a court with a decision pending as to whether the defendant is guilty or innocent.

In God’s courtroom, we all stood guilty. We couldn’t even make a case to defend ourselves. Our only hope was to throw ourselves on the mercy of the court.

The verse goes on to say, “Yahweh promises you over and over: ‘Though your sins stain you like scarlet, I will whiten them like bright, new-fallen snow! Even though they are deep red like crimson, they will be made white like wool!’”

Instead of the guilty verdict we deserved, he offered us grace, mercy, and complete forgiveness of our sins.

The word “scarlet” referred to a cloth that had been dyed twice, making the stain permanent. Washing wouldn’t get rid of the stain. No amount of scrubbing could budge it. It would take a miracle to return the twice-dyed scarlet cloth to its original white color.

A miracle is exactly what we received. Our sins aren’t just hidden or covered over with Wite-Out™. Our sins are completely removed, just like someone pushed the “delete” button. Through the blood of Jesus, the permanent stains of our sins are gone and we are returned to our original stain-free condition, beautiful and glittering like new-fallen snow.

When our sins are forgiven, our record is expunged. In God’s eyes, our sins disappear. It’s as though they never even happened.

Sometimes we bring those sins back up and rehearse the guilt and shame in our minds. We beat ourselves up for something God has declared forgiven and dismissed. Maybe God knew we would do this, because he reminds us again in Isaiah 43:25, “I, yes I, am the One and Only, who completely erases your sins, never to be seen again. I will not remember them again. Freely I do this because of who I am!”

Our sins, our mistakes, our regrets—God doesn’t see them any longer. He doesn’t even remember them. Why do we feel guilt about that which God has forgiven? We are no longer condemned. We are righteous. The past belongs in the past. We can move our focus off the mistakes in our past and place our focus on the glorious future God has prepared for us.

Dear God, thank you for forgiving my sins. It’s so awesome that you don’t even remember them. You aren’t holding a grudge against me. You aren’t angry with me. You love me so deeply. Help me forgive myself just as you have forgiven me. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Categories
The Heart

Deal with It

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” (James 1:23-24)

Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and seen something appalling? Maybe you haven’t, but I definitely have. Broccoli in my teeth, schmutz on my cheek—the mirror reveals it all.

I’ve never looked in the mirror and said, “oh, no, broccoli in my teeth,” and then went on about my business without getting rid of the broccoli. No, when the mirror reveals the horror of the broccoli, I do something about it. I deal with it.

God doesn’t care about the schmutz on our cheek or the broccoli in our teeth. But he cares deeply about the junk that lodges in our hearts. The Scripture says hearing the Word of God is like looking in a mirror. The Bible has the power to reveal any destructive issues in our hearts. Instead of hearing the Word, seeing the problem, and choosing to ignore it, we must make up our minds to do something about it.

What are some heart problems we need to deal with instead of ignoring? Let’s talk about just two common heart problems.

  • Guilt can sometimes be a good thing. It’s healthy to feel bad if we do something wrong. What isn’t healthy is to let guilt dwell in our hearts year after year. Unresolved guilt is resolved by confession, accepting God’s forgiveness, and forgiving ourselves. It may require humbling ourselves and doing what we can to make things right with the person we wronged. When we take steps to deal with the guilt, we free ourselves from its hold on our heart. (See 1 John 1:19.)
  • Anger lodged in our hearts will spill over onto the people around us. Why continue to give people who hurt us in the past the power to affect our future? For our own good, and because Jesus requires it of us, we must forgive those who hurt us and let go of the anger. They may not deserve to be forgiven, but we deserve to live without anger. (See Ephesians 4:31-32.)

Guilt and anger are just two examples. Jealousy, bitterness, guilt, greed, lust, anxiety…the list goes on and on. So many destructive issues can make their homes in our hearts

A friend of mine developed atrial fibrilation (AFib), an irregular heartbeat. His cardiologist ordered a lot of tests and they all came back normal. There appeared to be nothing wrong with his heart—except AFib. The doctor said he could live a long time with AFib, but if left untreated, it would eventually cause deformities in his heart. So, to keep his heart from damage, he dealt with it.

In the same way, not dealing with spiritual issues eventually causes spiritual deformities. Maybe we can live with our anger, depression, or guilt, but God doesn’t want us to keep living with our heart issues.

God’s Word tells us to deal with our heart issues. “But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do” (James 1:25). Do we want to be blessed in what we do? If so, we must look intently into God’s Word and let it be a mirror to show us what needs changed in our hearts.

What destructive issues are in our hearts right now? Instead of ignoring what we see in the mirror of the Word, let’s do something about it. Let’s deal with it.

Dear God, forgive me for the times I’ve heard your Word and realized I needed to change, but walked away without taking any action. For the sake of my heart and for the sake of my relationship with you, help me to not only hear your Word, but to do it. Give me the courage to acknowledge my heart issues and the resolve to deal with them. In Jesus’s name, amen.