“For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.”
~Romans 7:18-19 (NRSV).
This describes us all if we’re the remotest bit honest. We all struggle with our flesh. Well, at least that shouldn’t be new. It should be an established note of self-knowledge.
This is the most marvellous fact: despite our inherently sinful natures we’re forgiven. The word “forgiven,” in context, resounds. It resounds eternally. It’s not something that will ever change.
These bipolar facts—our sinful natures and God’s forgiveness—combine to provide for us a way of harnessing the inner turmoil many of us wrangle with all our lives. We’re to accept both of these. That’s the very point of life; to accept these two.
Accepting Our Venial Faults
One thing we don’t readily allow ourselves the knowledge of, is God’s accepting our sin and has forgiven us for it—yes, the shame-filled and guilt-filled sin, especially.
To God, all sin is venial—it’s easily pardonable, given Jesus’ work on the cross. The forgiveness of God is not conditional on our actual repentance such that we will never sin again. It’s a fact that we will sin again, but with God’s help, because we no longer have to deal with the shame and guilt of it all (though, in fact, many of us will, despite what Christ has done!), we can be healed of some of it, because we’re no longer held back by it.
It’s not God’s will that we feel guilty beyond achieving a penitent heart. Any guilt or shame beyond that is of Satan. The Lord has achieved all he wants as we return to the Spirit in truth.
The Peace That Comes
Harnessing our inner conflict—the sense of our shame and guilt related to our sin—is now not really a big matter. The way to peace is we deal with the issues of sin, repenting of them instantly and in the moment. We take God at his word. We’re forgiven. We don’t feel guilty or ashamed anymore. We go on in glee to make restitution. We do God’s will to repair anything we’ve messed up. And we do so with a willing heart to go the extra mile to not only make up for the sin, but to convince others, God and ourselves that we’re won to God in all this.
And it can only be peace that results. We have conquered, in God’s name, any vestige of victory that evil could have over us. This is an astounding peace. It is an astonishing glory of God’s that this is ours.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.