Guilt and Redemption

Matthew 6:31-34 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Repentance has been defined as turning 180 degrees and walking away from whatever is being repented from. Christianity is based on our faith in Jesus’ grace… but our conversion is demonstrated by our repentance, our turning away from went before. We have been redeemed from our sins, from who we used to be.

I find that sometimes Biblical Christians can get really wrapped up in our old sins, endlessly rehashing the evil that we’ve done. There’s a place for that, and a time. We do need to process our sins and understand why we fell, what weaknesses have been revealed and need bouying up. But after that? Well, get back in the fight! It’s like a solider who was dealt a nasty blow on the battlefield, first he repairs his armor, then he figures out what weaknesses in his fighting style allowed the blow to land, and then he gets back out there.

Sometimes we forget that last step, and we let fear control our actions – or lack thereof. We let guilt control us.

One of the reasons that Christians who have come to their conversions later in life, particularly those with “interesting” lives, are so joyous is that they viscerally understand the weight that’s been lifted off their shoulders. They no longer bear their guilt, they’re done with that! They can inhabit the new person that Jesus has made them into. Why do we, who were cradle Christians, forget that the same thing applies to us?

Is it because we have too many hypocritical pseudo siblings who don’t repent, who just wallow in sin and say that everything’s covered by grace so why worry? Do we concentrate on these things so that we don’t forget that we will reap what we have sown? Are we trying to make absolutely sure that we don’t try to wiggle out of responsibility for reparations as necessary?

I’m not sure. None of those things are bad, but what happens is we end up fiddling endlessly with the old stain on our conscience, completely ignoring today’s problems, today’s duties. We don’t take the lessons of past evil and figure out how not to repeat them, we lock ourselves in a closet and stare at them. I find, personally, that when I do that, I block whatever God wants to talk to me about my sin *today*. Oops.

And this should not be. There is a lot of work to be done, right here, right now. There is someone you should be witnessing to – right now. There is someone you should befriend – today. There are phone calls to be made, emails to be sent, life-stuff to *do*. Yes. I’ve failed when I’ve stood up for Christ, and of all the evil I’ve done, the evil I’ve done with my Christian t-shirt on grieves me most. But if I decide that because I’ve failed once, I can never get up, never get on with it, ever again – I fail forever. Once again, I hide my talent in the dirt. Investments are rarely straight lines up and up and up… or am I missing something? There is always an element of risk.

We *should* strive to be perfect, but in our striving, we cannot forget that we are not yet made new. Another thing to remember is that we are children of God, daughters of the King, and we don’t have to do this on our own. Strength and help are there for the asking. We’re supposed to be asking!

Each day, its own problem. I think that works for the past just as much as it does for the future. So take care of what’s on your plate *today*. Learn from yesterday, hope for tomorrow, get on with it today.

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13 thoughts on “Guilt and Redemption

  1. Elspeth

    Oh, wow. I’m working on something right now that is kind of condemning after reading this.

    It contains a bit of that rehashing you opened with, but I’m still writing, cutting, editing, trying to get where I’m going but ending with the reader thinking, “Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God that He will through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

    Right now though I’m wondering if the church is awash with teaching that smacks more of of cheap grace than true redemption.

    Reply
    1. hearthie Post author

      I do think there is a place for real solid rehashing. But we need balance. Like, with your testimony. Are you still in danger of making the same mistakes you did at 18? I bet if you’re anything like me (and we’re too similar to not laugh) that you’ve hashed and rehashed and studied that period of your life – you could probably give a lecture on the topic. Yet you’re still held to account for that stuff because of some of the manospherians. Like, hello – E is twice that age. The walk of Christianity is a WALK, and she’s left that far, far behind. It no longer defines you or who you are. That’s the point of redemption, isn’t it? Even if you’re still reaping some of the problems you sowed, you’re no longer defined by your sin, you don’t have to wear it. But we chain ourselves to our pasts…

      Definitely balance, because I dislike cheap grace too. Write your piece and we can have them up as the two sides of the coin. Hey, maybe that would be cool, you put yours on your blog and we could put the both of them as point:counterpoint up on TC?

      Reply
  2. fiberaddict

    Thank you! I’ve been to.d that because I am not all a-twitter over what is going on in the world that I am not a Real Believer. :twitch: We’re told NOT to worry….so, why do I need to make myself sick over things I already know are going to happen? HE is in control…..yes, I see what’s going on, but I’ve been told to not worry. So…..yeah.

    Reply
    1. hearthie Post author

      Exactly. I care but I don’t care, you know? Like, “Ugh. Really? WHY?” And then you just do what you can do, vote your conscience and get on with life.

      We’re headed straight to Rome, full speed. Do what you can about having a clean conscience about not having participated and having done your part to slow the run… and then do whatever it is you were put on this earth to do.

      I think my book is going to be titled, “Get on with it” :p That’s all I seem to say.

      Reply
  3. Maeve

    Hearthie, these posts you’ve shared have had me thinking long and hard about my own attitudes toward forgiveness, redemption, atonement, repentance – and they’re all still a jumble. One thing I will note, however, is that the constant rehashing of old sins, old weaknesses, old frailties seems, in a way, a repudiation of the forgiveness one claims to believe one has received. If Christ washes away our sins as his act of forgiveness, why do we continue to try and carry them around with us like so much dirty laundry. We’re supposed to set them aside so that we are not continually burdened by old business. I don’t mean that we forget, because we need to keep the benefit of learning from our past mistakes, but there’s a huge difference between that an maintaining an eternal state of “mea culpa” and walking around in a permanent hairshirt (so to speak). Besides, it’s a sort of perverse sort of pridefulness. I happen to know some people like that IRL, who seem to define themselves by all the awful things they did in their youth and they talk about the repentance and forgiveness, but almost as an afterthought. As Christians, it should be the latter which are the defining moments. How do you “Get on with it” if you act like a hoarder (with your sins)?

    Reply
    1. hearthie Post author

      Yes! And … um… what about today’s sins? What are you working on right now? Are you perfect now? I’m not perfect now. I’m not as splendiferously sinful as I was at 18, but I’ve got sin, and it needs uprooting. Focusing on the past doesn’t help me do that.

      Reply
      1. Maeve

        Exactly! The only thing we need to watch for is a tendency to repeat similar sins – but that still does not mean we need to keep thrashing ourselves about things for which we have already received forgiveness. We need to be praying for help with the things that are preying on us now.

  4. Elspeth

    You know Maeve, one of the things I’m finding is that I have to be careful where I read online, no matter how much I like the blog author or authoress.

    Sins that I had long put behind me seem to float back up to a consciousness that they shouldn’t because I apparently “got away” with something that I shouldn’t have.

    It’s odd because I don’t feel as if I got away with anything at all. really, I just didn’t pay the sphere preferred penalty: a life of cats or at the very least, unhappy in marriage.

    The cross offends our human desire for retribution and sense of justice. Or at least it does until we recognize that we are all awful, vile, death deserving sinners.

    Reply
    1. hearthie Post author

      Isn’t it David who said, “Against Thee alone, O Lord, have I sinned..”? And he’d killed someone to cover up knocking up his wife!

      God’s mixture of “this is the natural consequence of your sin” + mercy + grace = His justice. *He* is our perfect judge. I am accountable to God. To my husband. To leadership. NOT to strangers. Just – not.

      I really am starting to think it’s a subtle strategy by our enemy. Remind me to write about Esther today, k?

      Reply
    2. Maeve

      Elspeth, I agree wholeheartedly! What really aggravates me is this holier-than-thou attitude some take when one reveals past mistakes/transgressions for the purposes of showing that there is such a thing as actual HEALING through repentance and forgiveness. How dare one experience happiness? How dare one take that precious gift of forgiveness and DO GOOD THINGS? It’s a terrible attitude. We are not, after all, our sins (past or present). Maybe I’m getting a little holier-than-thou myself – I need to watch that!

      Reply
    3. tbc

      Folks in the ‘sphere have their own multifaceted issues that erupt from time to time, often masquerading as Christian and biblical when it is, in fact, neither. I believe in sin. I believe in repentance. I believe in redemption. I believe in grace. My life, nay my very being, depend on it. As the psalmist says, ‘if thou Lord should mark iniquities, Lord who could stand?’

      Unfortunately a lot of people’s bad experiences blind them and make them want to see other people pay pay pay for their sins. Where then is the cross?

      Reply
  5. Pingback: What are we teaching about what it means to be a Christian? | Loving in the Ruins

  6. Renata

    I never understood how to handle feelings of guilt that never seemed to go away even after the sin had long been repented of until I encountered an article about the sin of scrupulosity. Many Christians do not want to accept abundant grace because they personally never seem to escape from their sense of guilt and shame and to see others free of it feels too easy. You are supposed to suffer for your sins, right? Right? 🙂

    Reply

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