The product of sin is more sin. When we do something that we know is displeasing to the Lord, it will always create within us a desire to do it again, a fear that we must do it again, or deceitfully hide what we have already done. Sin does not come then leave. Sin moves us, though at times ever so slightly, out of the presence of God creating a weaker communion with Him. And when we realize that it is only by the Holy Spirit our thoughts are made pure and true, the slightest loosening of our relationship with the Holy Spirit leaves us to our own thoughts and desires to the same degree. As I sin, I loosen the bond I have with the Spirit, depleting myself, one drop at a time, of the righteous thoughts of God that have the power to overcome the impure thoughts of a sinful man. And this leads to more sin.
Repentance, of course, is the key. The problem is that we don’t always want to repent. Our motivation to repent should be at the thought of the hurt we have caused the One who gave His all for us on that old rugged cross. But it doesn’t always happen this way. Many times, until the damage of our sin has hit its peak, we do not repent. This is why secret sin is so dangerous. The Bible does promise that what is done in darkness will come to light, but God’s mercy affords the unrepentant heart more time to indulge before everything hits the fan.
Our first encounter with a sin provides us with something we want. Sometimes, it even provides something that is good. The problem is that sin is counterfeit. What it pretends to give is never true, real, or lasting. We want justice, so we lash out at people who have hurt us and the sin in our anger has promised us justice. We will react so harshly that surely that person will never do what they did again. The problem is that justice without love is not really justice. If injustice is met with injustice, lacking love, the so-called satisfaction is short-lived and the effect will be the opposite of what we desire. Lashing out does not produce justice. Lashing out produces more lashing out, more loneliness, more regret. A common reaction of lashing out pushes everyone else away and pushes us into our own little dark cave.
A small flirtation outside the bond of marriage may create a pleasurable feeling knowing that someone seems interested and attracted to us. We enjoy that feeling so it happens again and again. We want to feel loved, appreciated, attractive, wanted. The flirtations seem to give us these things, but these are empty promises. These flirtations create in us a desire for more. And we only have to read the Hollywood tabloids to see how these little things that seem pleasurable utterly destroy people lives and not just those who started flirting when they shouldn’t.
Finally, we repent, but even then, the residue remains. We feel horrible for what we have done and like spiritual failures when we realize we actually pursued sin for our own gratification. The reside of our sinis the guilt that collects in the stickiness of our sin. We repent. We cry out to God. We ask for forgiveness from the Lord and to those we have hurt, but the guilt mounts weighing down our spirit. Guilt is a massive monster that destroys life. Guilt can cause more damage than the original sin we committed because it simply won’t leave. Guilt is so sticky. Every time we see the effect of our sin or see the people we hurt, it gathers strength creating a sticky, black spot on our soul. It is the residue that must be cleansed.
My wife loves sweet tea and when I say sweet, she puts a little bit of tea into a bucket of sugar. Once, I was rushing in the morning and clumsily knocked the pitcher of sweet tea she had made the night before right out of the shelf in our fridge. The tea went everywhere. But I was in a hurry. I grabbed the mop. Using the sink sprayer, I wet it down real good and mopped up the tea as quickly as I could. The floor was clean. But when I came home, I noticed as my kids walked through the kitchen, their shoes were sticking to the floor with each step. One of their flip-flops actually came off their foot stuck to the floor. The residue that I couldn’t see when I left that morning was everywhere gathering sticky strength. A large army of ants had formed a single-file line from outside the house and marched to what must have seemed to them like a paradise of sugar. This is what guilt does to us. And the larger the spill, the greater the residue. We literally stick to our sin like my kids abandoned flip-flop. The residue must be cleansed and so must our hearts be cleansed of a guilty conscience.
The good news today is that the blood of Christ is available as a cleanser of all guilt and sin. The blood of Christ shed on the cross removes even the toughest residue of guilt, no matter the sin. It releases us from our sin completely.
I had a giant, Costco-size of Fabuloso cleaner in my pantry. I got it out and filled the sink with hot water pouring in the Fabuloso. I took the same mop that only had water before and dipped it into the cleanser and mopped up that mess. When I was done, it didn’t just look clean. It was. The residue was gone. Poor ants were suddenly confused thinking it had been some kind of mirage. They reversed their single-file line and headed back out from where they came from. You see, the blood of Christ was shed over 2000 years ago, but to cleanse us of a guilty conscience, it must be applied and that is really what I want to talk to you about. How do we apply the blood of Christ to cleanse us of guilt and release us from our sin?
Let me share with you the Scripture that tells us exactly how to cleanse our guilt:
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Ha! I know what you are thinking and no, I am not saying that if you will give more money to the church, your guilt will be cleansed. No, that’s not what I am saying. In fact, you could give all of your possessions to the poor and still be hounded by guilt. Then why am I giving you a Scripture about money? Well, it’s because it is not really about money. Don’t get me wrong. It is pure and works for all kinds of giving, but the context in which Christ said these words was all about forgiveness. If you give forgiveness to those who have wronged you, you will receive forgiveness from the Lord.
We tend to think of forgiveness as a thing, like a single object, that we either have or don’t, that we either give or don’t. But in this context, the Lord is teaching us there are degrees or measures to forgiveness. I can forgive not at all, a little bit, quite a bit, or all the way. The measure by which I forgive will I be forgiven. I know, this doesn’t seem to make sense because God doesn’t forgive us by degree. His forgiveness goes all the way, no doubt. But the deeper meaning of the word ‘forgive’ is to loosen. When we forgive others, we loosen them from their sin just like the Fabuloso loosened my poor children from the giant fly trap I had created with the spilt tea. Sometimes though, we forgive just a little. We stay angry and we allow ourselves to stay angry justifying our anger. But here is God’s promise to us, the more we loosen others from their sins against us, the more we can receive His forgiveness loosening us from the guilt, the residue, of our own sin. If guilt is the residue that keeps me stuck to my sin, the blood of Christ applied is the cleanser that removes the residue.
The blood of Christ is readily available just like my ginormous container of Fabuloso, but it must be applied. When I abandon myself from all bitterness and grudges against others who hurt me, even if they don’t ask for forgiveness, it cleans the residue that we had been using to keep that person stuck as the object of our ire. We release them from their sin. The Lord rewards us with a greater ability to let Him cleanse us of a guilty conscience, freeing us from our sin. And the little devils that crept into our life form a single-file line and go back to where they came from.
Give forgiveness to those who have hurt you and it shall be given to you, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. No more guilt.
If you know anyone who may be suffering with guilt, share this with them and if you haven't already, sign up to get my blog in your inbox and you will receive a FREE DOWNLOAD of my book: Breaking Free From Your Past. May the Lord bless you and cleanse you from a guilty conscience (Hebrews 10:22). -Pastor Lee
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