I recently began cleaning out my upstairs bedroom for the purpose of converting it into an office. This is painful for me for a couple of reasons. One, in the last few years it has become my attic/storage space and, typical of unused spaces (at least for me!), a large portion of what’s in the room was put there simply for the purpose of getting it out of the way because I didn’t have a clue what to do with it. Two, I am not a big fan of that kind of work. I will procrastinate until the cows come home and the storage area becomes so cluttered you really have to watch your step. Now don’t try to schedule an appearance on the next episode of Hoarders, I can move around in the room. Kinda. Sorta. Never mind.
As I stood in the doorway and stared at the clutter, trying to decide where on earth to start, I was so tempted to shut the door and go back downstairs, deal with this another day. Then I began to wonder why I was always so reluctant to start a task such as this. Once I muster up the determination to get it done and over with, it’s a great feeling to look around after the “junk” is gone and order is restored. It occurred to me that my reticence was probably due to the fact that I’d have to make some decisions on what stayed and what went into the trash. To finally, once and for all, get rid of the things I had not used in years, probably never would, but still wanted to hang on to.
Just as we need to clean out the clutter in our homes, we need to do the same thing with the “garbage” that accumulates in our hearts. When we neglect to do a regular cleaning and take out the trash, it becomes just as cluttered and unattractive as my unused upstairs room. In our hearts, that trash will grow and fester if left unattended and, not only manifest negatively through our physical selves, it will be a stumbling block in our walk with God.
But sometimes, just as when we clean out a room, when we begin to clean out our hearts we find things that we need to get rid of but still want to cling to, for no good reason other than we like it, we want it and we don’t want to let it go. It could be a lot of things, from a sinful habit we don’t want to give up, old hurts and wrongs we want to cling to or things that we put first before God. These are things that, from past experiences, we know will never bring us happiness or fulfillment but cause strife, inner turmoil, damage relationships, negatively affect our health and, most importantly, separate us from God. So why do we want to hang on to that garbage?
Taking out the garbage begins with confession (acknowledgment of the sin) and repentance (letting go of and turning away from that sin), then counting on Jesus to get rid of it.
1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Plainly put, Jesus wants us to regularly take out our garbage, dump it at the foot of the cross and He promises to not only remove it, but also to forget it. Isn’t that amazing? No matter what we’ve done, no matter how we’ve lived, no matter how many times we’ve driven those nails into His hands and feet over and over with our sins, He loves us enough to take our trash away and cleanse and remove every bit of that filthy, trashy reside. Wow! Now that’s love, folks!
However sometimes we still feel guilt over sins God has already forgiven. Satan, the enemy of every Christian, just loves to condemn us by reminding us of past sins that we’ve already taken to the cross and laid at the feet of Jesus. Whenever we feel condemned, we need to see that is the work of the enemy that is trying to rob us of the peace that is ours through Jesus.
Romans 8:1: There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
In other words, there is no past, present or future sin that a believer in Christ can commit that can be held against him since the penalty was paid by Christ, and no sin can ever reverse this Divine decision. When you start to have feelings of guilt over past sins, take the time to remind yourself that you’ve been forgiven. Take care of it as soon as it starts to nibble at your conscience, ban the evil whispers from your mind and remember that Jesus has already dealt with it.
Chains of guilt, whether for confessed or unconfessed sin, will hold you back from being all that you can be in Christ and create an emptiness inside of us. When our spirits are not in unity with God, it manifests physically and we try to fill it with food, alcohol, drugs, material possessions, sexual relationships and all sorts of sinful things. If your guilt is real and over a live sin in your life, confess it, turn from it and don’t ever let Satan accuse you of it again. God will immediately give you a clean slate and you can begin again that very second!
If your guilt is false because Jesus has already removed that particular garbage from your life, thank God that He has already forgiven you, that He chooses to forget what He’s already forgiven and, as a Christian, you are no longer condemned!
If you have never received Jesus as your personal Savior, even if you’re unsure if you want to, visit www.lifeway.com/Article/Becoming-a-Christian-can-be-as-easy-as-A-B-C or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Begin living a life of freedom and peace that only God can give you!
Father God, I thank you for sending your Son Jesus to die just for me, to take on all my sin and pay the price for me. Right here and now, I lay before You the sins that I cling to and separate me from You. I ask that You, in Your loving mercy, forgive and restore me. I also ask that you remove any false guilt that I have which is keeping me from being all that I can be in Christ and is robbing me of peace. Banish the evil that whispers falsely in my ear. I praise you that I am forgiven and set free! Thank You, Jesus!
Psalm 103:12: As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.