Millions of people, both in society and in the church, are suffering under a crushing weight called guilt. Maybe you’ve had an abortion, or advised someone else to have one. Maybe you’ve lied to a friend, or stolen something and never made it right. Maybe you’re addicted to alcohol or pornography or drugs or spending more than you have. Maybe you’ve hurt someone and never sought their forgiveness and now you can’t forgive yourself. It could come from a thousand different things, but if you feel hopelessly lost under this pressure of guilt, this message is for you.
It’s counterproductive to try to eliminate guilt feelings without dealing with guilt’s cause. Only by denying reality can you avoid guilt feelings. You need a permanent solution to your guilt problem, a solution based on reality, not pretense.
The good news is that God loves you and desires to forgive you for your sin. But before the good news can be appreciated, we must know the bad news. The bad news is that there’s true moral guilt, and all of us are guilty of many moral offenses against God. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
Sin is falling short of God’s holy standards. It separates us from a relationship with God (Isaiah 59:2). “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Jesus died on the cross as the only one worthy to pay the penalty for our sins demanded by God’s holiness (2 Corinthians 5:21). He rose from the grave, defeating sin and conquering death (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, 54-57).
When Christ died on the cross for us, He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). The Greek word translated “it is finished” was written across certificates of debt when they were canceled. It meant “paid in full.”
Because of Christ’s work on the cross on our behalf, God freely offers us forgiveness.
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
Salvation is a gift: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). This gift is not dependent on our merit or effort, but solely on Christ’s sacrifice for us. God offers us the gift of forgiveness and eternal life, but it’s not automatically ours. In order to have the gift, we must choose to accept it.
You may think, “But I don’t deserve forgiveness after all I’ve done.” That’s exactly right. None of us deserves forgiveness. If we deserved it, we wouldn’t need it. That’s the point of grace.
Once forgiven, we can look forward to spending eternity with Christ and our spiritual family (John 14:1-3; Revelation 20:11-22:6). You can look forward to being reunited in Heaven with your loved ones covered by Christ’s blood (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
God doesn’t want you to go through life punishing yourself for the wrongs you’ve done. Your part is to accept Christ’s atonement, not to repeat it. No matter what you’ve done, no sin is beyond the reach of God’s grace. He has seen us at our worst and still loves us. There are no limits to His forgiving grace. And there is no freedom like the freedom of forgiveness.
You need to become part of a therapeutic community, a family of Christians called a church. You may feel self-conscious around Christians because of your past. You shouldn’t. A true Christ-centered church isn’t a showcase for saints but a hospital for sinners. The people you’re joining are just as human and imperfect as you. Most church people aren’t self-righteous. Those who are should be pitied because they don’t understand God’s grace.
A good church will teach the truths of the Bible, and will provide love, acceptance, and support for you. If you cannot find such a church in your area, contact EPM and we’ll gladly do what we can to help you.
Photo credit: Ravi Roshan via Unsplash
Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.