There you are-minding your own business, living your daily life. Here it comes-a memory that makes you cringe. Your heart fills with shame. You try to push away the thought, but it screams loudly in the silence: “Remember what you did? Ugh. You are a disgusting person.”
But God forgives me.
“Maybe, but you still did that. What kind of person does that?” The heavy weight of shame presses down on your soul. You start to question. Maybe I really am a terrible person. Maybe God doesn’t really want to be near me. You go about your day, hiding behind busyness and checked boxes because the shame is too much to bear. You numb yourself with social media and mindless games so you don’t have to confront the shame.
Maybe you really did something terrible in your past. Maybe it was a common sin, but it still embarrasses you. Whatever it is, you are trying to outrun it, but it always catches up with you.
Can you relate to this scenario? I sure can. The lie is subtle, but damaging, like a small grenade thrown into a skyscraper. If it hits a crucial spot, it can bring the whole building down.
When past sin weighs on our souls, we have to remember what God’s word says about us. The Truth is the only way to combat the lie.
In Romans 4: 7-8, Paul quotes Psalm 32:1-2:
“Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.”
If you trust Jesus as your Savior, God not only forgives your sins, but he never counts them against you. That voice telling you to be ashamed is not the Lord.
When you read this verse in Romans in context of the whole chapter, it takes on an even deeper meaning. Paul is teaching about how righteousness comes from faith alone-not works. God’s love for us is not based on what we do or what we’ve done.
He uses Abraham as an example of such faith. “Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”(v.19-21)
Abraham is lauded as having unwavering faith-the man who, fearing he and Sarah were getting too old, slept with his wife’s servant so she would bear a child and hasten God’s promise. Abraham, who feared man so much that he told them Sarah was his sister and allowed her to be taken as another man’s wife-he is credited with strong faith.
Was Paul wrong? Does the Bible contradict itself in this passage? Of course not. This passage instead upholds the promise found in Isaiah 43:25: “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.
Abraham committed some pretty heinous sins. His faith DID waver-the historical narrative in Genesis makes this clear. However, ultimately Abraham put his faith in God, repented, and trusted God’s promise-and God chose to forget his selfishness, lack of faith, and licentiousness. He instead calls Abraham a man of unwavering faith.
During my junior year of college, I took a black and white photography class. One of my favorite parts of the class was being in the lab, playing with lighting and filters while developing a print. A filter can completely change the perspective of a photo. What once looked like a simple portrait, when softened, becomes a picture that encapsulates personality and meaning. The original portrait remains, but how we see it changes.
When God looks at his children, he sees us through the filter of Jesus. Jesus’ blood blots out all of our sins. The omniscient God of the universe, looks through his Jesus filter and chooses to only see the righteousness that Jesus credited to us. He chooses to forget all of the terrible things we’ve done and thought and felt.
What do we do when the shame of past sins continues to weigh on our souls? We have to remember that God sees us as righteous, through the filter of Jesus. The shame is not from him because he took away our shame on the cross. We must continually open our hands and surrender the shame we feel to the God who is strong enough to carry the weight of the world. When we do this continually, the feeling of shame will eventually disintegrate and true joy will take its place in our souls.
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