It is quite ironic that in our day we have exhausted ourselves in our effort to do away with “sin.” With all of our efforts, there still seems to be an overwhelming sense among us of our own brokenness, alienation, and guilt. We read and listen to the “professionals” assessments to try and soothe our conscience, we hear our friends say that “we are making a big deal out of nothing,” and yet we know that we’ve “missed the mark.”
How are people, in a society that has rid itself of the understanding of sin, to ever find a lasting remedy for the sin that plagues us? That is one of the important questions of our day. From what I see we are numbing ourselves to the effects of sin through all kinds of addictions. We are distracting ourselves from the darkness, the brokenness within, by living vicariously through our favorite teams, performers, and cultural idols. These may take the edge off for a moment, a day, or even longer, but eventually we are reminded that we’ve missed the mark, we don’t pass the test. We continue to be disturbed, not nearly as much by the darkness we find in our society, but by the darkness we find in our own hearts.
God makes it clear to Jeremiah, and to all of us, that though we try everything under the sun to cleanse ourselves, “the stain of your guilt is still before me.” I can try as I may to cleanse my conscience on my own, but like a deep stain in a carpet, the guilt of my sin will return. I can try with all of my might to brush it off or to compare my sin to the sins of others far more despicable (in my eyes), but still I know that what’s not right is what’s not right in me.
I know the myriad of ways we try to deal with our guilt and shame because I’ve tried so many of these “snake oil” remedies. Some work better than others…for awhile, but none have any lasting value. Like there is but one answer to the question, “What is the answer to 2 X 5?” there is but one answer to the question, “How can we forever rid ourselves of the guilt and shame we carry because of our sin?” John writes, 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 NIV) To be “purified” from my guilt, to be “purified” from my shame, to be “purified” from my sin–now that’s what I’ve been longing for.
Jesus took my sin,, your sin, upon Himself so that we wouldn’t have to carry it any longer. When I fall short of God’s will for my life, when I sin, I know what to do and it is not to numb myself or merely to try and get my mind off of what I’ve done. I am to run to my Savior as quickly as possible, confess my sin, and leave it with Him. He will exchange my sin for His forgiveness and grace as He casts my sin into the sea of forgetfulness, never to bring it before me again. (Micah 7:19)
My prayer today, Lord, is that You will remind me that none of the answers provided by this world can help me deal with my sin in a lasting way. I must carry my brokenness and shame to You to find the forgiveness I am longing for in life.