John 8:36 - (Jesus said) "If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed."
A Lutheran Hour listener wrote: "I have been inclined to brood over past sins, confessing them, but not able to have joy, assurance, and peace -- not able to take God's promises at face value as I should."
This listener speaks for many: parents convinced of their failure at raising their children; divorcees wishing they could relive their first marriage; children at the graveside of their parents deeply regretting they had not expressed more appreciation and love before their death; the quick-tongued who painfully regret their remarks made in the heat of an argument; and the list goes on.
Guilt has the potential of causing strength-sapping anxiety, increasing paralysis of the human spirit and, possibly, even self-destruction. For this reason, we, as sinners, can never hold too tightly to the biblical promise: "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sins" (1 John 1:7). And, we can never adequately rejoice that "there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). Words can never express the joy of the burdened sinner who hears Jesus say, "If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed."
Because of our flesh we are often, like the listener above, not always readily inclined to take the promises of God at face value. We want, in some way, to contribute, hoping to work out our own assurance. And like the people mentioned in John 6:28 who asked what God expects of them, we long for guidelines on what to do.
But God's forgiveness is unconditional, immediate, and complete. When we sincerely repent of our sins -- truly turn from our disobedient and erring ways -- and trust completely in the sin-cleansing power of the blood of Jesus, then God the Holy Spirit soothes our suffering conscience and assures our troubled hearts of divine and perfect pardon.
It is human to want to experience assurance through feeling. Yet, God in His wisdom and love has clearly ordained that His faith-building assurance comes not through our fickle feelings but by His Spirit-empowered, changeless Word. So, when our failures cause us anxiety, and when we realize our helpless condition in the sight of God, let us confidently turn to Psalm 51. The cornerstone of our Christian faith should be built so securely on God's reliable Word, that this chapter of Scripture would become branded in our burdened hearts. Verses three and four powerfully convey sin-laden sorrow. But how beautiful is the God-bestowed faith and joy expressed in verses 10-15.
Your past sins and mistakes may rise up to haunt you. But don't let the devil torment you endlessly. Cling only to the trustworthy assurance of God's divine pardon in His Word. Put your undeserved trust in the loving Savior's sin-cleansing blood shed for you on Calvary.
THE PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, our sins drag us down and lay us low, but You would have us lifted up in Your Son's Name. Remind us of our complete salvation when we forget. In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.
From The Lutheran Layman, September 1983 issue, "Free Indeed" by Rev. Dr. Wallace Schulz
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