I became familiar with a hymn while growing up in the Catholic Church:
O truly necessary sin of Adam, destroyed completely by the Death of Christ!
O Happy Fault, that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer!
Sin, no matter how big or small it seems, is never good or justifiable.
Even so, sin, no matter the magnitude, doesn’t have to be the end. And a line like the one in the Exsultet of the Catholic Church can help us to see that.
Sin can be the precursor to good things IF it is followed by repentance.
As it happens, after sin comes the feeling of guilt. Guilt is an enemy – a very subtle one. Especially because you will think it is justified. But we need to understand that the blood of Jesus was shed for sin and the consequences of sin, including emotional ones like guilt.
You know how we feel bad after doing something wrong and even after apologising we believe the person we hurt thinks we’re audacious to be laughing and joyful like we never did anything wrong? Like we’re expected to continue to show remorse, at least for a little longer? Well, God is not like that. When He forgives, He expects us to start living and acting like it’s all clean and over. No extended feelings of guilt. That’s just the devil’s turf.
And you know why guilt is such a huge weapon of the enemy? With guilt, you will never be fully free to commune with God. You wouldn’t feel like you had the right of access to His throne of grace, after what you did.
Imagine trying to open up to someone and loving them and being with them, while you’re feeling guilty. It would be burdensome and the relationship would be superficial. The Lord wants us for true deep fellowship and His blood made a way so that not even sin or guilt would be an issue. Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more to cover the magnitude of that sin when we have repented of it.
We need to remind ourselves that the blood handles the emotion of guilt. And we should revel in that. There is a place for godly sorrow – and it is before repentance. In fact, that’s what leads to repentance. After repentance, there is no more need for sorrow or guilt. We have passed from the other side of the blood to freedom, lightness and joy!
And maybe you feel like your sin is so great, and you still feel the need to convince God that you’re really sorry about it, so it makes sense that you should continue feeling guilty. Then maybe you’re trying to punish yourself. Well, you don’t have a right to punish yourself. You don’t belong to yourself. The One who owns you has said it is over. Take it and be free. Don’t let pride find a place in your repentance and forgiveness experience.
If you’re still thinking ‘I can’t believe I did this, I should not have done this,’ then maybe you’re thinking of yourself more highly than you ought to.
And if you feel like your sin is enormous, then imagine the depth of gratitude and the depth of grace that you will experience. It’s almost as if no one can understand the depth of God’s love and mercy like someone who has been forgiven. ‘Big’ sinners will see the goodness of God so much, and will love Him in gratitude so much, like the Lord Jesus explained in Luke 7:47.
Don’t forget the enemy is still trying to trip you up, even after you have repented. He still wants to rob you of what is yours – peace, joy, freedom and confidence to approach God and fellowship with Him. Don’t let him.
Instead, you can sing along with Elevation Worship in their song, Gone:
It wasn’t for nothing that you shed Your blood, so I’m gonna live like my shame is gone
Won’t be shackled to the way I was, I’m gonna live like my chains are
Now my sin is dead and gone and I sing Hallelujah
He is risen, it is done
And I sing Hallelujah!