The summer of my 8th grade year I went to a Christian camp in the mountains outside of Pittsburgh. It was billed as a typical Christian camp, but it operated more like a military camp - complete with strict rules and hard penalties. One of these penalties was a jar that sat on our counselor’s desk, and if we broke certain rules, we had to put money in the jar. I'm sad to admit that's where most of my spending money ended up.
One evening after devotions, our counselor said that he knew three of us had broken camp rules that day, but in an act of unexpected grace, he said he didn’t want to embarrass us in front of everyone. Instead, after “lights out” that night, he wanted the three folks who had broken the rules to just quietly get up and put a dollar in the penalty jar. The next morning there were 8 dollar bills in the jar, which was interesting because there were only ten people in our cabin. I think the lesson my counselor learned that morning was that there were a lot more folks struggling with guilt than he had imagined.
But I think if my counselor had thought about it for a bit, he wouldn’t have been very surprised because the reality is, we all deal with guilt. It is an emotion that unifies us as humans. And that’s unfortunate, because it's not something God wants us to struggle with. Instead, God wants us to live free from the bondage of sin - and often, part of that bondage is guilt from sin. The good news is, there is a simple solution to the problem of guilt, which Colossians 2:13-14 describes this way: “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for He forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.”
If we want to be free from guilt in our lives, then we need to accept God’s forgiveness. And I say that because, if we're Christians, our sins AND our guilt have been taken care of by Jesus’ death on the cross. So when we surrender our lives to God and accept the work that Christ did on the cross, we’re no longer guilty before God, because the record of our sin no longer exists. From God’s perspective, since the sin is gone, so is the guilt. David sums it up beautifully in Psalm 103:12, where he writes, “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.”
When we confess our sins, and God forgives us, our sin is totally annihilated – it is not held against us anymore. So if the only place it can exist is in our memories, the second step we need to take in getting rid of our guilt is to ask God to heal our memories, and to remove that lingering guilt.
So today, let's humbly ask God to forgive us for the sins we’ve committed against Him. Then let’s believe Him when He says we’ve been forgiven, and ask Him to remove any guilt that we might be holding on to. Let's ask Him to truly liberate us so that we can fully serve Him.