When Jesus came, everything changed. He put an end to the law and the need for animal sacrifices, not by destroying the law but fulfilling it once and for all. (Matthew 5:17) Judgment and the lingering feelings of condemnation, guilt and shame for sins vanished, if we chose to receive what Jesus has done on the cross.
The law required that the sacrificial lamb be perfect. Then, after the sins of a person were transferred, the animal would be put to death and the blood spread on the altar.
Jesus, being the Son of God, remained a sinless man. Before He was sacrificed on the cross, all of mankind’s sin past, present, and future were transferred to Jesus. Then He died. Unlike the animals of the Old Testament, though, Jesus had the power to rise again from the grave to claim victory over all of mankind’s sins and the death penalty as well once and for all.
This means, we are free from God’s judgment and we do not have to carry around thoughts of condemnation, guilt, and shame anymore. We carry God’s grace because we have become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. No sin can ever steal our righteousness away. Now when I sin, I say I’m sorry, I remind myself of God’s promise of grace, I thank Him, and then I ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom to avoid that sinful situation in the future.
God showed me a vision pertaining to this recently. I could see myself standing there with lots of dark spots (sins) all over on me. I tired to get them off but I couldn’t. When I hear the gospel, I saw myself accepting Jesus into my life and every last one of those dark spots immediately fell to the floor. Instantaneously, Jesus gave me a glowing white robe and I saw myself putting it on. Jesus told me it was my robe (gift) of righteousness and it would never come off even when I sinned again. From now on, He would take the responsibility for my sins and reminded me that His grace is sufficient.
Then the scene changed. I sensed I wasn’t ‘feeling so righteous’ anymore because I was still sinning. Guilt and shame permeated my thoughts. I felt like the dark spots should reappear to represent my present sin. I could see myself picking up the pile of dark spots and trying to make them stick by rubbing them back on my robe of righteousness but they slid off and fell to the ground.
As I pondered this, I realized that most of my life I did not understand the full significance of all that Jesus had accomplished on the cross for me. I knew in my heart my sins were forgiven but my mind was plagued with thoughts of guilt, shame and never measuring up from the enemy. Unfortunately, my mind (soul-mind, will, and emotions) ruled over what my heart wanted to believe. Fear overwhelmed me at times and I would go through bouts of depression. I felt unrighteous and my relationship with God was affected. I felt I had to “do” more to cleanse the sins I was still committing. Carrying around the guilt and shame was part of my penitence. I was never fully cleansed. Thus, I was never free from condemnation. In my mind, it always kept me at a distance from God.
Then I discovered:
The law is about ‘what I can continually do’ to remain righteous
but accepting Christ is about
‘being in a state of righteousness continually’ forever.
When I am in Christ,
I do not have to do anything more to stay righteous.
He is my righteousness!
What I had failed to comprehend years ago was that the sins I committed from then on did not affect my righteousness or God’s opinion of me. I had always measured up not because of me (my self-righteous activity) but because of Christ (the Cross). I was ‘in Christ’ and he had continually taken care of whatever sins I had. That truth does not make me want to sin more but love more…love the Trinity more. Share Christ with more of those around me. The fear and depression? It gradually melted away the more I meditated on: My sins were really gone forever and God loves me no matter what. Carrying around the guilt and shame as penitence was neither necessary nor desire by God. Now, we are freed to be grace-conscience instead of sin-conscience. When we accept that sacrifice of Jesus into our lives, we become whiter than snow for eternity.
The knowledge that I am truly free from the law of sin and death has turned my sorrow into great joy!
Blessings to each of you in this season of our Savior!
(Romans 8:1-2, Galatians 5:1, John 8:32, Philippians 3:9, 1Cor. 1: 30)