Too often we experience shame over the wrong issues or in too great a degree. Paul, in Romans 1:16, drew an important boundary around shame. He marked off the things of Christ, leaving shame to the realm of the sinful and disobedient.
We are all guilty of sin by virtue of our sin nature inherited from Adam. “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard” (Romans 3:23 NLT). When the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin, we become aware of our guilt and feel true shame over our sin.
We all have an intuitive sense of justice and that wrong must be atoned for. But because of our sin nature we are prone to self-atonement and false guilt, a sense and thought that we must somehow pay the penalty ourselves. This results in self-recrimination, self-accusation, and false shame, which is a powerful sense of worthlessness.
God addressed the problem of our guilt and shame by providing forgiveness as a gift “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23 NIV).
The punishment for our sin is not overlooked. The death of Christ actually paid the penalty in our place once for all: “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
The Lord also provides ongoing provision for our sin: “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 2:1-2). By truly receiving His forgiveness when we sin as believers, we thwart self and Satan's attempts to create false guilt.
Perhaps the waters of guilt have washed over you, and you feel like you are sinking in sorrow and regret. What could be preventing you from moving beyond your past and feeling forgiven?
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