Guilt is an ugly thing. It seeps into your subconscious thoughts and programs your way of looking at life. It will change your rose colored glasses to shades of gray. The heart of Christianity is forgiveness. In Christianity, God reaches down from heaven in order to save a sinful humanity. Do not just read that sentence and gloss over what it means. God leans down, get himself dirty and saves your life from the despair that is sin.
Accepting God's Forgiveness for New Believers
Most Christians do realize that their sin is forgiven. The problem is that some new believers hold onto to the guilt of their past sins like a warm blanket. The blanket is filthy and disease ridden. The reason the filth and disease is kept by some is because the blanket is warm and has been by their side for years. Yes, I agree, that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. When did feelings start making sense?
Let me paint you a picture. You are sitting in church because some one keeps inviting you. As you are picking your nose (perhaps scratching your nose-for the more sophisticated), you begin to listen to the pastor speaking. He begins to really hit home when he begins to expound on some sin that you are doing. One that you know is wrong. You begin to feel angry and think to yourself, "Like I'm the only one that has done that. Maybe the preacher has never done that but everyone else has." Then you are floored when the preacher admits that he has done it too. Thoughts flood you brain again, "What? Why are all these stupid people following some guy who admits to that? I'm never coming here again." Then the preacher begins to tell you that you can be forgiven for this awful act just like he was. Good news begins to tickle your eardrum, feeling like a feather floating in your ear canal. God actually sent Jesus to die so that you can be let off the hook. You begin to wonder why God would actually do that. Then, before you can make any more assumptions, the preacher tells you. God did this selfless act because He loves you. He loves you just the way you are, with a beer in one had and a cigarette in the other. You learn, that "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8; English Standard Version). You long for the forgiveness; suddenly the preacher tells the whole church, "If you want this forgiveness and feel that Jesus is calling you to this forgiveness come the alter and we will pray with you." Before you know what is happening, your feet begin to move you to the front of the church. There you are greeted by a smiling, gentle man who explains salvation and prays with you. You are then told that all those sins you are struggling with are forgiven and with God's help you can stop all those bad habits. You are flooded with joy and can literally feel the weight of the world fly of your shoulders.
Then you go home. After Monday's worries and Tuesday's problems, you feel the guilt of the past creeping into your brain like a possum digging into the chicken coup. (Yes, I'm from Texas.) No one has told you this would happen. You either hold onto the guilt and start falling further and further away from the One that saved you or you share your feelings with your church and begin to realize you can let go of the guilt.
Don't let that happen to you. Forgiveness from God is forever. It doesn't just last until the next Sunday. It is "as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us." (Psalm 103:12; English Standard Version). East goes right and west goes left; never do they touch. That's pretty permanent. Remember, guilt is a feeling that can be wrong and forgiveness is permanent.
Accepting Forgiveness as a Seasoned Believer
Another forgiveness faux pas is a Christian who has been a believer for years, through peaks and valleys, but then does something terribly wrong and he/she can not forgive himself/herself. There are many reasons for this.
- Christians tend to hold themselves to a higher moral standard than others do.
- Christians will be reminded by non-believers of their past mistakes, keeping the sin in the front of their mind.
- The consequences of the mistake are always there. A constant reminder of them failing themselves.
All of us have done something that we regret. When a Christian does something, while he/she is attempting to follow Jesus, the guilt of the action can be overwhelming. This is a tool used by satan to keep mature Christians from being productive. What we tend to forget is that God's love for us did not change. We changed. God has still forgiven us. We just refuse to let go of the guilt. God still has reached, stretched and is grasping down from His throne to forgive you and me. So, please, forgive yourself as Christ forgave you and continue in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20).