One day when I was in the 3rd grade I found a tube of lipstick outside my house. I don't know where it came from or whose it was but I twisted the bottom of the tube to reveal a dark shade of red. I don't know what came over me, but a couple minutes later I was using the lipstick like a crayon...on the side of my neighbor's house. I don't remember what I wrote on the side of his house but I do remember my mom catching me, red-handed if you will. I also remember walking the 15 feet to his front door feeling my heart sink a few more inches with each step. I knocked on the door and as our neighbor turned the handle I looked into his face and I was speechless. I did not know how to vocalize anything. My mom then nudged me saying "Go ahead Kasey, show him what you did."
I led him to my canvas, that being the side of his house, featuring a new piece by an up-and-coming young artist. Again I was nudged to apologize for defacing my neighbor's house but I just studied my shoelaces, pretending I was somewhere else. I surveyed each lace-hole, every knot, every scuff and every grass stain. I could not bring myself to tilt my head and look into the eyes of the one I had wronged. I knew what I had done was wrong, but I couldn't articulate my apology.
My neighbor didn't express any anger, maybe because I was just a kid, but why to this day, do I still remember my offense? Why is it I can describe my experience as a guilt-stricken-8-year-old with such clarity?
It's the guilt.
Guilt is a very unique sin. It's almost like the sin of sexual immortality, the sin that infects you from the inside out, the sin that causes you to sin against your own body. Guilt eats at the very insides of a person because of the weight and control it possesses. Whenever we see a certain person, remember a certain situation, a certain mistake, Guilt rears it's judgmental face and forces us to relive the mistakes we made, the bad situations we were a part of, and the hurt we put someone through. It's like a high-definition replay of our failures.
When I played football for my high school we would always watch game film the Saturday morning after the Friday night game. Those were honestly some of the most stressful parts of the season, even more so than the pre-game butterflies in the locker room. Every play, every down, every second of my performance was on display for my coaches and teammates as well. At the click of a button they could rewind my mistake, my missed block, the quarterback getting sacked because of my failure.
Satan has perfected the use of guilt and he never had to have a film session the next day to see if he made a mistake. He knows what he is doing when it comes to using our pasts to try and break us down. One of the best descriptions of Satan is given by Jesus Himself in John 8:44 when Jesus is talking to the Pharisees about who their real father is:
"You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies."
The devil is the father of lies, the great deceiver, the murderer. He wants you to believe that everything in your past makes you unworthy of the free gift God has for you. While we do not deserve redemption and atonement through the sacrifice of Christ because we are sinners, the free gift of God's grace is given to those that choose to receive it, regardless of how dirty the hands are that untie the bow and tear away the paper.
If you are in Christ you are no longer bound by your past mistakes. One of my favorite quotes puts this into perspective:
"I am only better than one person in all the earth; the man I was before Christ saved me."
Do you realize how much truth there is to that statement? When Christ died for us we were given the opportunity to be made new. When we receive Christ as our Savior and wholly surrender our life to Him, He makes us a completely new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), He wipes the slate of our life clean. Every mistake, every sin, every failure. They are all gone in the eyes of Christ (Hebrews 10:17).
If you are in Christ there is no longer any reason to be weighed down by your guilt. As difficult as it is to let go, the guilt of our lives will only continue to weigh us down and kill us from the inside out. If you do not call yourself a follower of Jesus that guilt will continue to eat at you and no matter how many times you tell yourself you are okay, you'll never really be okay. I can't claim to have everything under control because that simply isn't true, but I know that Christ is working me through it by the power of the Holy Spirit. A relationship with Christ frees you from the chains of your conviction because He loves you and He doesn't want you to have to bear that burden any longer. He wants to free you from your guilt and give you the opportunity to live, not just endure.
Satan knows that deception is all he has. He thinks that if he can just get a couple more people to think God doesn't love them, that his work will be worth it. But Satan knows he is going to lose. He doesn't know how much time he has left, but he does know the clock is ticking. At the end of his time he knows where he is headed.
Don't let yourself be deceived by his lies. God loves you. If He didn't love you why would He send His own Son to His death to give you a way out? You don't have to be weighed down by your guilt, Christ will set you free.
"Whenever the devil reminds you of your past, remind him of his future."