It starts as a gnawing feeling of embarrassment, chagrin and shame. Our conscience smarts as we think about something we did, said or thought, or something we should’ve done that we didn’t. This inner sting, this warning light of the soul, is called guilt. It reminds us of when and where we have gone astray of right standards, of when and where we have disappointed God and others.
If we don’t deal with guilt properly and promptly it can settle into our hearts and minds and torture us for days, months, years — and sadly for some, even for a lifetime. It silently eats away at our confidence. It can cause us to compromise our character. The unconscious thought is, “If I’m bad already, I might as well continue to do bad things.” Guilt keeps on accusing us, condemning us — drilling into our heads a sense of resignation and defeat.
There are many people who have confessed their sins and failures many times to God but still struggle with a feeling of dirtiness. They can’t seem to shake the guilt and shame — the thought that they are doomed to some horrible fate because of their badness.
How do we get over these feelings? How do we break free from unhealthy, dominating guilt and shame?
The answer is in the Bible:
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. — Romans 5:1 (NIV)
Take a look at the New Living Translation of this verse:
Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.” — Romans 5:1 (NLT)
As Christian believers we sometimes hear theological terms and phrases that have little meaning for us. We may be able to mentally acknowledge their significance yet still miss the real power of their meaning.
One such term is justification. If you’ve been a believer for any length of time you’re most likely familiar with this word. But what does it really mean? How does it apply to our daily spiritual journey? How does it help us to practically deal with the pangs of guilt that keep reminding us of our sinfulness, weaknesses and failures?
Justification is one of the key doctrinal concepts presented by the Apostle Paul in the book of Romans. It describes a particular condition before God and relationship with God. It is a legal term that refers to an acquittal or vindication. It means to firmly, decisively and judicially pronounce someone as righteous or right.
The opposite of justification is condemnation. The condemned person has been convicted of wrong-doing and sentenced to painful consequences. That person must live with the reality that they are guilty and must pay for the wrong they have done. In contrast, the justified person has received the word of the judge or jury which declares them innocent. They are set free by this declaration.
What’s the application for us?
The Bible clearly teaches, and human behavior confirms, that mankind is, by nature, sinful. All of us have wandered from the righteousness of God. All of us have violated His holy standards. We are spiritual and moral “convicts.” We rightly deserve to pay the consequences of our actions. This is where the term justification becomes so valuable to us.
God has provided a way in which we can receive an acquittal, a “Not Guilty!” verdict from Him. This is called justification — made “just as if we had never sinned!“
This justification comes through faith in and acceptance of the One who freely paid the consequences of our sins — Jesus Christ.
When we ask Jesus Christ into our lives, when we confess our sins to Him honestly and humbly, we experience this beautiful gift from God called “justification!” It’s a declaration from God that He has acquitted us. We have been set free from condemnation. We are no longer consider guilty by Him!
God has a gift for you today. By faith, accept God’s declaration of “Not Guilty!” Let go of the the guilt and shame you’re carrying for your past sins and failures. Take hold, by faith, of this wonderful gift of justification. Enjoy and celebrate your freedom!