Sin is not the Christian’s greatest problem-guilt is! Like so many Christians, you may acknowledge that Christ has forgiven your sins, and yet you still may find yourself feeling guilty about significant moments in your past, whether they took place ten years ago, ten days ago or 10 minutes ago!
Why do you feel that way when you know you’ve been forgiven? Every person who has achieved significance for God has had to first overcome a mountain of guilt. Jacob, Moses, David, Peter and Paul were all monumental sinners who had every right to wallow in a prison of guilt. But these men threw off their shackles of shame to become remarkable heroes for God. What turned them from guilt to greatness? The answer is changing what they identified with!
Much of what people get counseling for could easily be remedied by a simple identity change: their identity for Christ’s. Most walk around with weight of guilt, shame and condemnation that no longer belongs to them. As one teacher put it, “Most Christians can’t get from the church to the parking lot without feeling guilty for something!”
David felt a lot of guilt and shame, and he understood well the sacrificial system of the Jewish culture. Under the old covenant Jews were required to make sacrifice after sacrifice to cover their sin, and once each year the high priest would lay his hands on a goat that represented the guilt of the nation of Israel. The goat was sent into the wilderness to be seen no more, hence the name “scape goat.” Do you see how the Lamb of God, who took away the sin of the world, also became your guilt offering? David got a glimpse of this wonderful work, and it prompted him to write Psa. 32:
Psalm 32 – Amplified
[A Psalm of David.] A skillful song, or a didactic or reflective poem.
1 Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is he who has forgiveness of his transgression continually exercised upon him, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity and in whose spirit there is no deceit.3 When I kept silence [before I confessed], my bones wasted away through my groaning all the day long.4 For day and night Your hand [of displeasure] was heavy upon me; my moisture was turned into the drought of summer. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!5 I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide. I said, I will confess my transgressions to the Lord [continually unfolding the past till all is told]—then You [instantly] forgave me the guilt and iniquity of my sin. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]! 6 For this [forgiveness] let everyone who is godly pray—pray to You in a time when You may be found; surely when the great waters [of trial] overflow, they shall not reach [the spirit in] him.7 You are a hiding place for me; You, Lord, preserve me from trouble, You surround me with songs and shouts of deliverance. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!
Notice that this forgiveness and guilt removal is for the godly and not just for the beastly sinners! How can we really rejoice in our salvation if we have a load of guilt, shame and condemnation on our shoulders? This joy doesn’t come by more Bible studies or reading more Christian books! Quite frankly, it comes by Holy Spirit revelation and the realization that when Christ died, you died and your guilt, shame and condemnation with you!
New International Version (NIV)
20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Paul wrote this past event in the present tense to illustrate its present reality. Old Paul, the one who killed Christians, thinking he was doing God a favor, was killed with Christ (spiritually speaking) on the cross along with all of his old identity (Rom. 6:6)! He died, and now new Paul lived with no shame, guilt and condemnation. If you’re saved, you’re no different. Paul didn’t have a bunch of brownie points saved up AFTER his conversion – he just knew Jesus had given him a whole new identity! May I let you in on a nasty secret? Satan doesn’t want you to come to grips with this, because if you do, you’ll start living in real joy without that plastic Christian grin – LOL!
Watchman Nee, the famous Chinese Christian who wrote so many books, said when he realized the amazing truth of Romans 6 that he went around saying to himself, “I’m dead!” all the time until one day he shouted, with full revelation, “I’m dead!” Do you get it? His inner man couldn’t grasp the magnitude of the new creation, and usually ours doesn’t, either. Oh, boy, but when we do – mercy, Percy!
Years ago I preached “Shame Off You.” When I shared that Jesus died naked on the cross (pictures and films always show him clothed), to take away our shame, a friend of mine who had been repeatedly molested as a child, got the Holy Spirit’s revelation, and was set free on the spot from shame! HELLO!
A beautiful Christian woman told me recently that she carried so much shame that she actually hated looking at her face in the mirror! In her case, a demon of shame had entered and perpetuated the lie of hell that she was still guilty. A Spirit-filled pastor discerned this while praying for her and cast that bad boy off her!
“Working for God” and “doing right” will not remove forever these kinds of things … because it’s already been done by our Lord and Savior.
If you have a loved one or friend who needs this message, send this on to someone who dragging around their old identity that’s eat up with guilt, shame and condemnation, and see what happens.