Summary: How could God ever forgive me? I’ve messed things up as a Christian. How could God just look the other way?
This coming Tuesday is July 4th
And on this particular 4th of July our country will have been in existence 230 years.
Ours is a great nation because it has been built upon the principles of Scripture. Our very law is gleaned from the pages of the Old Testament, and many of it’s principles were based upon God’s Word.
Therefore, it’s not surprising that the opening words of the Declaration of Independence declare that they held “these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”
Our nation’s forefather’s found that Scripture spoke about freedom… and so they determined that this new nation would be dedicated to creating that atmosphere. They forsaw America to be a place where freedom would be the foundation of everything they sought to do.
Because of that determination, we in America have been blessed with many freedoms that other nations don’t have. But even with that foundation for our country, there is one freedom that America cannot give it’s citizens. In fact, no government on the face of the earth can supply the freedom that Jesus talked about in John 8.
ILLUS: Back in the 80’s Ann Landers wrote about her experience as a newspaper “answer lady.” People would write to her with their problems and ask advice on how to deal with their children, their spouses, their bosses, etc.
In her book, Landers explained that one of the most difficult things that people struggled with is guilt and shame. “I’ve received letters brimming with self-recrimination - letters that prove no punishment is so painful as the self-inflicted kind. Here are a few examples:
‘I let my boyfriend go too far. Now, when he sees me, he looks the other way. I’m so ashamed of myself I could just die.’
‘I threw a dish towel in my mother-in-law’s face. She was trying to be helpful and I lost my temper. I hate myself.’
‘I got caught cheating in a history exam today. All the kids know about it. I feel rotten.’
(“The Ann Landers Encyclopedia A to Z”)
No matter how many freedoms our nation gives us, it can not give us the freedom from the shame and guilt imposed upon us by our sins.
Jesus said: John 8:34 "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”
Or as Proverbs 5:22 tells us “evil deeds… ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast.”
Hazel Felleman wrote a poem about this:
"I wish there were some wonderful place
Called the Land of Beginning Again
Where all our mistakes, and all our heartaches
And all our selfish griefs
Could be cast like a shabby old coat at the door
And never be put on again"
I. The Bible teaches us that sin has a terrible ability to dominate our lives. To drag us down… to destroy us.
Titus 3:3 tells us that “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.”
Or as Romans 6:17 puts it: “…you used to be slaves to sin…”
Notice… “you used to be”
That implies that something has changed. Something is different. But what?
Jesus said– “… if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36
That is the promise of Christ. That’s our birthright as Christians.
But as real as that promise is…
as faithful as Jesus will be in keeping it
it is a reality that many Christians (even those who understand the promise Jesus gave that day) still struggle with guilt and shame.
They may have believed, repented, confessed Jesus as their Lord and been baptized into Christ…
but they’ve done something that has tripped them up. Something they believe God would never forgive them of. Or perhaps they’re struggling with a sin that they just can’t quite handle.
They believe that they’ve gone over the edge – and they’ll never make it back into God’s graces
Don Francisco once wrote about this in a song. He said that he’d once sinned so badly that: “I was so far down that even up looked wrong”
For many Christians there is a nagging question: “How could God ever forgive me? I’ve really messed up as a Christian. How could He ever forgive me? How could He ever forget what I’ve done?”
II. Now, this type of thinking is based upon a very human concept
There is a word that has become quite popular in our culture lately that describes it. That word is “Karma.” How many of you have ever heard that word? (most raised their hands).