Why punish yourself more than God does?

Photo credit: Josef Grunig / Foter / CC BY-SA

Photo credit: Josef Grunig / Foter / CC BY-SA

People can’t make you feel bad about yourself unless you let them.  That’s a concept that has helped people who struggle with poor self-esteem to develop a healthy outlook about themselves.

What if the reverse of that concept could be useful as well? I don’t mean that I can only make someone else feel bad if they let me do it (though that is true).  But what if it’s true to say that other people can’t make you feel good about yourself unless you let them?

Guilt is a powerful emotion that is unnecessary for Christians. When you were saved you were freed from all the burdens of sin, including this one.

shameIt’s interesting how one word can change the whole concept of a Bible passage. People can take this kinda thing out of hand, but we shouldn’t avoid these kind of discussions completely.  So, I’m gonna present you with one that recently caused me to think in a new way about a significant passage, though I haven’t had as much time as I’d like to dig enough into it to do it justice.  As always, I won’t be crushed if you disagree.

In Isaiah 6:1-8, Isaiah appropriately feels inadequate and sinful in the presence of the Almighty God.  A seraph (angel) picks up on this, so he flies over to the distraught prophet and cleanses him with the coal from God’s altar by touching his lips with it.  This act gives Isaiah confidence to speak up in a setting that had just caused him to declare his own doom, and he even offers to go into the world as a representative of the God he had recently believed he couldn’t even be around.

The seraph’s words in verse seven grabbed me, “. . . See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

The English word guilt has a couple of meanings, and I read it a different way this time. As a noun it can mean the state of having committed an offense, the concept I’ve always understood.  It can also refer to a feeling of responsibility and remorse for an offense.  I hope the second meaning is valid for this passage as well.

The second meaning fits the passage.  Isaiah was distraught because of his guilt.  Whatever his sin or inadequacy was, he knew that he wasn’t worthy to be in the presence of the Almighty, Magnificent God.  And he would have been correct except for the fact that the burning coals on His holy altar – the effects of the perfect sacrifice of His Son, Jesus – have the ability to take away our guilty status AND our guilty feeling.

God can’t help you to feel good about yourself unless you let him.  He wants to take away your guilt. Jesus’ sacrifice was way, way more powerful than the sin that you still struggle to shake the shame from.  If you get nothing else from your day, I pray that you realize that if Jesus is your Savior he’s taken away your sin and desperately wants to take away your shame as well.  He can only to that if you let him.

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