The Fall of mankind introduced sin indefinitely into the human race. The offspring of sin is death and destruction. Sin also usually produces guilt and condemnation. I believe in order to conquer our struggles, guilt, and condemnation, we must begin to understand God’s infinite grace and forgiveness for us.
There is something depressing about guilt. I should know, as you probably too, because I’ve dealt with it a lot in my life. Guilt is a strong tool of the devil. Very strong. Just ask anyone who is struggling with guilt. They’re likely not to be the most joyous people you meet.
Joy. Now, there’s an interesting topic. Some preachers promise joy to those who follow Christ. Others will be miserable but scream at you, “The joy of the Lord is my strength!” What’s the truth about joy? Here’s what I’ve learned (and I’ve got many more years to do so I hope). God’s Word promise us joy . . ., but He doesn’t promise us happiness. I see that look of confusion on your face. You heard me correct, happiness is not a synonym of joy. We’ve mistaken joy for happiness and vice versa. Galatians 5:22 (NIV) says that joy is one of the fruits of the spirit not happiness. Let me say something bold here: God doesn’t want you happy! God wants you joyful. Here’s why happiness is temporary and joy is eternal. Of course I have an example from my life for you. Do you think I’d leave you high and dry like that? I recently bought a new laptop for college. I’m on it right now. I love it! It’s everything that I need for college and personal use. Let’s fast forward ten years down the road. Do you really think I’ll still love this laptop? Of course not. Why? Because it has made me temporarily happy by supplying my temporary need. As technology always does, in ten years, technology will advance significantly and there will be something new, better, faster, and more efficient. Joy, however, is eternal. My example for this is a tear jerker. My dad died when I was 16 from pancreatic cancer. Yes, it is hard to live at an age where my dad’s influence is so very vital to me and not have my dad present. After he died, I had a dream. In the dream, he walked into my kitchen and smiled at me. I ran up to him hugged him tightly, cried, and told him how much I love him and miss him. My dad wouldn’t say anything to me in the dream, but he had a glow surrounding him. Yes, we can all speculate what the dream meant, if it was a creation of my mind, or if it was a God send to comfort me. Here’s the moral. I woke up with joy. Don’t tell me it’s easy to be joyous and happy when your parent dies. It’s not. But through this dream (that I believe was from God), I was able to have overwhelming joy and peace in such a tragic time.
Now I told you all of this to tell you this one little sentence: The devil knows that if he can get you to focus on guilt--your situation, issue, struggle--and rob you of your joy, he takes the focus away from Christ and makes you INEFFECTIVE in your life and for His Kingdom! I think you should read that again and let it sink in; I did. One thing you may be pondering on is how do you get rid of guilt. Let’s take God at His Word! Romans 8:1 (NIV) says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Isn’t that awesome?! Christ purifies our consciences relieving us of any and all guilt . . . if you’ll let Him and sometimes this does take some time.
GRACE AND FORGIVENESS
Oh guys, this part is my favorite! Get ready! Remember how I mentioned the Fall of mankind earlier. Let’s take a road trip all the way back to Genesis and discover some AMAZING truths to God’s forgiveness and and phenomenal grace! In your own time, I encourage you to read up on the Fall again (Genesis 3). I’m not so much as focused on the actual Fall as I am to God’s response.
After the Fall, God came strolling through the Garden and said, “Yo Adam! Where you at homeboy?” Adam followed up by saying, “Oh God? Is that you? You got a new haircut or something? Um... I heard you coming. And I was like, oh man--I’m naked! I can’t be looking like this! So I decided to play hide and seek with you. I guess you found me big guy!” Ok, I’ve probably offended a few by personalizing this, and I’m sorry, but I find it easier to picture. Yes, the context of it is scriptural and that’s my only point. Anyway, their dialect continues. Adam blames Eve (classic blame game). But do you notice what God does after all of this? In Genesis 3:21 we see the true grace of God. Guys, I love this! You ready? God made Adam and Eve clothes. Amazing! Let me break this down to show you the meaning behind the text. God made this cloth to hide their nakedness--their sin. So what? This whole story tells us something beautiful. When we sin, we can’t hide it. God sees it and knows. But the best part, He provides a way! With Adam and Eve, He provided their way by making clothes for them. Of course in your instance, it’ll be different. God provides the way out for you too. God makes your clothes to cover your nakedness! The next time you sin and guilt starts to seep in, remember this story. God will provide you with a cloth made of grace and stitched together with mercy. No, this is not an excuse to use to get by with sin. It’s inevitable that we’re going to screw up. This allows us to reflect on God and praise Him for providing us with grace, forgiveness, and mercy for all our screw ups.