Ruth opened the grand front door, and the sunshine made her eyes water. Ma had peace and joy because she loved the Lord and the Lord loved her. Ma was good, but Ruth was -
"God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
Ma's favorite verse. Ruth huffed. Not her. No matter how many times she prayed for forgiveness, her sin and punishment hung thick and black over her.
In my novel, A Memory Between Us, the heroine, Lt. Ruth Doherty, struggles with shame over her past. Last week I started a new blog series about dealing with shame that lingers after sin has been forgiven or there was no sin to begin with, as in abusive situations. Here's the first post: http://sarahsundin.blogspot.com/2010/10/new-blog-series-shoving-off-shame.html
God doesn't want us to live under a heavy cloak of shame because 1) Christ redeems us, 2) Christ covers us, and 3) Christ restores us.
Christ Redeems Us
Many years ago, I prayed for forgiveness for past sins...over and over again. One day, the Lord stopped me mid-prayer: "Sarah, do you believe Me?" What a silly question - of course I believed God! Then the still, small voice said, "So why don't you trust Me to do as I say?"
1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (italics mine). See that word will? That's a promise! And God always keeps His promises. For more assurance on the completeness of God's forgiveness, read Psalm 103.
Do you really believe Him? Do you trust Him to fulfill His promises? Do you trust Him to remove even the stain of your sin?
These questions may be painful. They were for me. I had to acknowledge that when I dwelled on past sins, I showed a lack of trust in God. I showed a lack of belief that He would really forgive me. And in my distrust, I minimized the magnitude of Jesus' sacrifice. One drop of His blood is enough to wash away the sins of all mankind. Isn't it - at its core - prideful to think my sins were so great that His blood couldn't wash them away?
The condemning voice that says you can never be forgiven doesn't come from the Lord. Romans 8:33-34 says, "Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died for us - more than that, who was raised to life - is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us."
When shame says, "You're a horrible person. God could never forgive you," you respond, "Go away, liar! God forgave me and cast my sins away."