In his spiritual fervor the Apostle Peter spoke these words and I believe he meant them with all of his heart, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” Jesus had just told his disciples, ““You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’” This must have sounded like pure nonsense. Peter who had faithfully followed Jesus for three years, Peter who boldly confessed, “Lord, to whom shall we go, You have the words of eternal life,” Peter who loved and passionately served Jesus would surly never betray Him. Yet Jesus told him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” Once again Peter restated his pledge to the Lord saying, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” Then the unthinkable happened. You can blame a lapse in judgment or you can blame the circumstances but for whatever reason, it happened. Peter denied Christ.
Here was a man who was absolutely dedicated to his values and had professed his love and commitment to them yet when it mattered the most he failed. Sound familiar? You and I claim we value our families, work, and ourselves yet sometimes when it matters the most we fail. Then we are often left with that horrible feeling of guilt and shame.
So much could be said here about guilt and shame, how they can lead us to, and keep us in our addiction. What I want to focus on is the truth of God’s amazing mercy, grace, and forgiveness.
You and I have done things worthy of hell itself.
John taught us, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 Jn. 1:8). The Apostle Paul said, “For the wages of sin is death.” Isaiah wrote, “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” (Isaiah 64:6). These verses are not just for those of us who have struggled with addiction. It is not just for those of us who have committed major sin. Isaiah said, “WE HAVE ALL…” The Hebrew word translated, “All,” in this verse is used in the Bible to describe, “All the earth.” All means all of us.
On the other hand God’s perfect grace, mercy, and forgiveness is also available to us ALL!
Isaiah prophesied about the ministry of the Messiah saying in Isaiah 53:5-6, “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Jesus didn’t just take the sins of those who tell white lies. He didn’t just bear the sins of those who occasionally get angry. He didn’t just die of the cross for those who messed up one time and then totally turned their lives around forever. Christ died for ALL! He took the punishment for ALL our sin. Big or small, one time sins and repeat offenders, He paid it all!
Have you ever wondered why Jesus had to raise from the dead? The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 6:4, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Jesus rose from the grave to prove victory over sin and death. He rose from the grave as a symbol to us. For just as Christ rose from the dead we too can walk in new life. Jesus rose to a new life. Now it is our turn.
You are forgiven! The Psalmist wrote, “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” The author of Hebrews wrote, “For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” You are forgiven. You! Forgiveness extends to the darkest sin. Forgiveness is from the least to the greatest sin. If you have confessed and turned from your sin, if you have turned to the living God in repentance, your sin is forgiven.
You might remember your sin and continue to beat yourself up for your past mistakes. Others might remember your sin and judge you by you past mistakes. But God, rich in mercy, and abounding in love, has forgiven your sin today.
You are Holy! The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians chapter 6 starting in verse nine, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” God sees you as holy because He made you holy. Yes, you have done some terrible, sinful things. But you were washed, made clean. You were sanctified, set apart in God’s eyes, made holy. You were justified, legally declared not guilty. No matter the sin you were guilty of, God washed you in the blood of Jesus. You are clean. You are holy!
You might not see yourself as holy. Satan, his demons, and other people might not see you as holy and may condemn you as a sinner and unholy but, in truth you are holy!
You are NEW! 2 Cor. 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. I love this verse! No matter who you are, no matter where you have been, no matter how far you have run from the Lord or the degree of your sin, in Christ you are NEW!
You might not feel new, others might not see you as new, but you are NEW!
Let’s begin today walking in the truth of who we are Forgiven, Holy, and New! Guilt and shame can hold you down and keep you in bondage. When you are negative, critical, and judgmental toward yourself, or when others act that way toward you because of what you have done you will have a tendency to live in guilt and shame. There is nothing wrong and everything right with learning from your past mistakes. However, if you have confessed your sin to God, asked His forgiveness, and have turned from the sin and turned to the living God then you are forgiven. You are holy. You are new. Let us make a practice of living in this newness of life in Christ, free from the bondage of guilt and shame.