The whole of the gospel speaks of dying to ones self in order that Christ may live within. I have often prayed the prayer that David prayed in Psalm 51:10
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
There’s risk involved with praying such prayers. For the heart of man to be clean, it must first be revealed unclean. As a general principle, people don’t enjoy having their sins revealed. For sin to remain in our hearts, it needs to hide away from the light. My pastor used to always say that sin acted much like cockroaches; when the light is turned on, the roaches scatter. They aren’t comfortable hanging out in the light for everyone to see them. There’s danger in the light. Light inherently defeats darkness.
So we hide and hope no one sees who we really are. An atheist friend of mine once told me that his most fundamental problem with Christianity in principle was the notion that men (and women) are inherently sinners. He preferred to start with the premise that men are inherently good. It’s a nice thought, but in practice, it just doesn’t hold true. There is vast evil bound up in the hearts and imaginations of man.
More striking is the fact that when we do something ‘wrong’, we inherently know that we’ve done something wrong. Ben Carson mentioned this phenomenon in his book, One Nation. He recounted a story about when he shot a bird with his BB gun. No one had told him not to shoot a bird, but he felt so guilty and knew that what he’d done was wrong. We do sinful things and feel the effects of those sins not just in respect to consequences but in our hearts.
The beauty of grace is that God has provided a way that we can live in freedom from guilt and shame. Sin no longer holds us captive because it was crucified and buried so that we can be raised to new life with Jesus Christ. Though we were once slaves to sin, we are now completely free. Hence, whatever is revealed in our hearts as unclean or wrong is not a source of condemnation but rather a reason to rejoice. Once we are aware there is an area of need, we can become free from that which held us bound. With every need, we find more freedom. The closer we draw to Christ and the more we take on his likeness, the more we are able to find complete peace and safety.
Suddenly, nothing can hold us back. Where once the voices of our accusers rang out, the voice of our Savior answers that he remembers our sin no longer. Though they call us a slave, he calls us a son. There is absolute freedom in truth.
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
“Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.'” John 8:34-36
“Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’ Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ” Galatians 4:3-7
Some have mistakenly believed that Christianity is a religion of guilt but the opposite is true. The gospel was never about finding fault that is a human thing to do, not ordained by the divine. In fact when Jesus was asked the question in John 9:2-3 “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.” The disciples were interested in assigning fault. Jesus was interested in revealing the glory of the God through healing.
Yes, God hates sin. He hated it so much that he made provisions so that it would never have a hold or claim on us again. That is the gospel. That Jesus LOVES! That Jesus HEALS! That we are FREE!
The next time your accusers come (even if that accuser is your own inner voice) and try to tell you aren’t good enough, answer back in truth. That, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. He doesn’t demand perfection. He doesn’t sit around counting our mistakes and writing them in the stars. He is faithful to show us who we are in the light of his holiness and we then can continue conquering those things that try to hold us captive. We have been reconciled to him and he is ever working to draw us near.
There is no shame or guilt for the former things or even in the ways we fail today or tomorrow. Like a loving father, he continues to love us and allows us to start each new day whole and clean before him. Rather than hiding from our innermost battles, we should stand up and confront them with the power of the gospel and the knowledge that we are more than conquerors and we are free from their groping little claws. One touch of his blood and all is renewed.