Last week at small group, some of the Wartburg gals and I had a great conversation about dealing with sin in our lives. The snappy things we sometimes say, the less-than-loving way we sometimes treat people, the manipulative motivations sometimes behind our seemingly sweet exterior- all those things. Yuck.
We talked about how there are guilty feelings that accompany these things, and we acknowledged, “Yeah, we should feel bad and work to make things right when we hurt other people.” But here is the important question: do those feelings of guilt motivate us towards God or away from Him?
It says in the word that the kindness of God is what leads us to repentance. This is the heart attitude that knows the Father is a Loving Daddy and goes TO Him saying, “Oh no! I really messed up. Daddy, help! I know you are the only One who can make all things new in me and in this broken situation. Thank you for the blood of Your Son that is available to cover me even now.” So there is such a thing as confession and even “good” guilt- the kind that makes us run into the arms of the Father and remind us of our constant dependence on Holy Spirit.
The other side of guilt is the weightiness of remembering our sin and dwelling on how messed up we are- I wouldn’t call this “guilt” so much as “accusation” and “condemnation”- this place of not being able to forgive ourselves. The enemy of our soul has many names, and one assigned to Him in the Bible is “the accuser”- the one who tempts you to something and then scolds you and points the finger as soon as you sin. Slimed. Feeling like this makes us want to run away FROM the Father. Here is the inside scoop on living in self-condemnation, this attitude is actually (gulp) PRIDE.
When we choose to not receive the work Jesus finished on the cross, that is pride. No matter how “down in the dumps” we feel about our mistakes, that does not equal humility. When Jesus dies on the cross, His blood purchased your sin from you so He could throw it as far away from you as the East is from the West. He looks at your sin brokenness and says, “That is mine, I paid for it.” When we respond, “No, Jesus, my sin is too big or there is too much darkness in me.”- THAT is pride.
Pride is not receiving what He has accomplished for you. Humility is surrendering our entire selves before Him and letting Him wash us again, and again, and again…
So here’s what you do when you feel condemned and accused by your own heart or by the enemy. You say, “That’s right! I AM capable of great sin when I walk according to the flesh! I am NOT surprised at the capacity I have within myself to manipulate, hate, pervert, or criticize. But I don’t stand in my own “righteousness”- I stand covered in HIS (Jesus’)!” Then declare and pronounce the truth over yourself that you are covered in the cleansing blood and life giving water of Jesus- fully forgiven and standing as though perfected before the Father. Then get crazy and celebrate!
Here’s the thing: you can argue all day with the enemy about YOUR “righteousness”, but there is NO ARGUMENT when you stand clothed in JESUS’ Righteousness.
Tomorrow I’ll share a picture the Lord gave me of what this looks like in my life.