I’ve been thinking lately about how if we don’t see our sin in light of the gospel, it’s possible to know God forgives sin, and yet live with a looming sense of condemnation, guilt, and shame.
I saw this in my own life as my husband recently shared some insights with me about a recurring issue that had caused contention in our marriage. His words were gracious and totally free of accusation and condemnation, yet with every syllable he uttered, waves of guilt and shame threatened to overwhelm me. Accusing voices echoed in my mind, “Some kind of true woman you are! How can you say you embrace true womanhood when you’ve obviously failed so miserably?”
Sensing that self-condemnation, my husband quickly communicated the essence of these words to me: “Carrie, God’s revealed truth to us today; we’re going to repent, move on, and learn a new way of communicating in this area.” I don’t know that I’ve ever sensed such redemptive love!
Almost immediately, this verse from Romans 4:20 flashed across my mind:
He [Abraham] did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God.
Surely Abraham’s faith had wavered when he lied about Sarah and later fathered Ishmael by Hagar. And yet as God looked at Abraham’s life through the cross of Christ He said, “Abraham did not waver.” Yes, Abraham had sinned--just as you and I do--but in repentance and hope he got up from his place of failure. He refused to allow his past to keep him from believing God’s promise. He walked on in faith!
I sensed the Spirit whisper . . . this is true womanhood, Carrie. Not a life lived perfectly, but a life that when sin is realized repents, gets back up, and keeps walking by faith. This is the hope of the gospel. As Elyse Fitzpatrick says in Comforts from the Cross:
The gospel teaches us that instead of focusing on ourselves and our closely clinging sin, we’ve got to focus on Jesus. We’ve got to look away from our sin whether because it’s alluring and drawing us toward it or because it’s condemning and pushing us into ourselves and away from our Savior. Our thoughts should be steadfastly riveted on what Jesus has done. He began our faith . . . He’s committed to bring it all the way to completion.
Where’s your focus today? Are you down on the ground? You can get back up right now, knowing that God sees and loves you through the cross of Christ!