By Pastor Jon Moffitt
“It is finished!” We know the phrase. We believe it to be true. Yet, our shame remains. There seems to be a vast canyon between what we know in our minds and the shame we feel in our souls. Instead of digging deeper into the promises of God completed in Christ on the cross, we turn to our own cleansing work. Our greatest fear is the reality that someone else might see who we are. Fear of rejection is natural for everyone. This is why we struggle alone for so long.
We convince ourselves all that is required is dedication and hard work. With the right set of verses, I can overcome this besetting sin and back into the Father’s favor. We investigate the scriptures to find those key verses that will give us the spiritual boost we need to increase our performance that day.
This is where penance finds its birth. Penance is the practice of paying off one’s offense against God. It’s a brilliant system. Penance: voluntary self-punishment inflicted as an outward expression of repentance for having done wrong.
It is an effort to prove to God we deserve forgiveness. I will self-discipline, sacrifice, or even punish myself so that you will grant me forgiveness for my transgressions against you. We feel better about receiving mercy if we have first proven we deserve it.
Have you ever had this thought, “How many times is God going to let me commit this sin, attempt to work it off to only commit it again?” All of us have carried the weight of our shame. How could God even want someone like me? Can I even say I’m a real Christian if I can’t even take my sin serious enough to stop it? Here is when your sin gets locked into the vaults of secrets. We assume we are the only ones, so we keep it to ourselves. And it is there we begin to suffocate.
In John 19:30, Jesus uses the word “tetelistai,“ which translates into three words, “it is finished.” It is a legal term to mean “paid in full.” Jesus’ death on the cross covered the sin of all of those chosen by the Father. Our sin was not forgiven for the past, but all sin for all time. We will not even carry a minor fraction of sin or one of the “big ones” when we stand before Him.
Hebrews 10:16 is a promise to cling to, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” Paul writes in Ephesians 1:7-8 that, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight.”
To some, this radical forgiveness sounds crazy. It’s too good to be true. There has to be a catch; there has to be something for us to do. Christ’s words on the cross still ring true today. There is nothing left. We are free from that burden. Not to pick it back up and try our best to deal with it, but to accept that Christ’s payment was sufficient.
What we should feel now is freedom! When the guilt and shame of our sin no longer weigh us down, we now have the freedom and joy to love and obey. This is why we need not hide our sin but openly and quickly confess it before God and others.
We offer each other mercy, not a list for improvement. We provide each other love, not fear of rejection. We give each other support through the struggle, not a quick help tip. The family of God gives each other the gospel each week so that we never rely on our own strength to find our right standing before our Father. This is why the purity of the gospel and a biblical church is so vital for a Christian’s health.