Christ's Cross Breaks And Destroys Sin's Shame And Guilt - For You

Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Several hundred years ago archers would shoot at targets.  When they missed the target, the judge standing next to the target would yell out the word, “SIN.”  Indeed, sin is the result of missing the target for an archer. 

But how does the Bible use this word ‘sin?’  Like in the case of the archer, sin is every thought, desire, word, and deed that misses God’s Law.  Sin was brought into the world by the devil in tempting Adam and Eve, who of their own free will yielded to temptation, they intentionally missed the target.  Thus, from our parents, Adam and Eve, we have learned to know that sin is our ‘turning inward’ on self; it is turning to our own desires, our own wisdom, and our own preferences.  It is ‘us’ wanting to become our own gods, desiring to be like God and thus not only totally missing the mark but attempting to eliminate the mark altogether. 

Not only are there dramatic eternal and spiritual consequences to sin, but there are also intense consequences of sin in the here and now.  In Psalm chapter 32 we receive an accurate picture of sin; sin that was un-confessed.  King David communicates to us that sin creates excessive grief; it can weigh down upon a person with deteriorating effects, as if bones decay.  Sin can figuratively wear out a skeletal structure.  Because of the guilt of sin, there can be tightness of throat; one becomes like a plant without moisture, being constantly exposed to the heat of sin’s guilt and shame.  Indeed, sin produces guilt, shame, and it drives us to fear, the feeling of being overwhelmed.

As a result of sin, we humans go to great lengths to handle and manage the guilt and shame of sin.  We deny sin (i.e., I didn’t do anything wrong); we legalize sin (i.e., well I haven’t done anything as bad as so and so); we shift blame for sin (i.e., the devil made me do it); we suppress the guilt of sin through substance abuse (i.e., we drink until we become numb); and we attempt to overcome the guilt of sin through our works righteousness (i.e., we coat our sin with spiritual cosmetics, good works).  All of these are merely band aids that ignore the much greater internal problem of the conscience, a conscience that has been damaged and condemned by sin.  Truly, these tactics are all intended to suppress the weight and avoid the effects of sin.  Left to self, this management of sin can consume a person’s whole life as they seek peace, absolution, and reconciliation to their sin and guilt. 

As we contemplate sin, does the Old Rugged Cross of Christ have anything to say to this issue of sin?  Yes, the Old Rugged Cross does speak to this issue of sin.  In Ephesians chapter 1 it says that we have redemption; Christ has purchased us out of slavery; through the blood of Christ we have the forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of His grace.  Indeed, we are granted forgiveness, due to Christ’s cross.  Yes, forgiveness that is applied to us because of Christ. 

There is a hint of scandal with this incredible forgiveness though.  Now, let us consider the scandal.  Upon hearing this you may find yourself saying, “That is too easy; it doesn’t cost the sinner anything.  Should not the sinner have to earn this forgiveness or put just a little forth as a good faith down payment?  I mean, this forgiveness is a little too cheap!  This grace is a little too cheap if it is simply that easy and that free.”  My friends, you are correct that this forgiveness doesn’t cost you and me anything, but it cost the Father everything.  Yes, let us consider how much this forgiveness cost our Lord!  For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son.  Indeed, this is expensive forgiveness purchased at the cost of the blood of the Lamb.  God the Father unleashed His vengeance upon Christ and then gives up His ‘right’ to unleash vengeance upon us for our sins.  This. Is. Forgiveness.  It is expensive forgiveness for us. 

Consider the following declarations for a moment. Isaiah 43:25 says, “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will remember your sins no more.”  Psalm 103:12 proclaims, “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”  Psalm 32:5 says, “I acknowledged my sin to you and I did not cover my iniquity; I said ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sins.”  1 John 1:9 states, “When we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  Yes, forgiveness is the removal of vengeance, it is the yielding of judgment, and it is the letting go of a wrong.  How is this possible?  Because your sin has already been judged upon Christ, the Father does not and cannot hold the debt of sin against you; your sin is forgotten.

What this means is that you are freed from the burden, guilt, and stronghold of sin upon you.  The word freed, carries with it the meaning of: to loose, to break; to destroy; to dissolve.  It can also communicate the idea of ‘washing.’  Simply put, the wage or result of sin as expressed by the Apostle Paul in the epistle of Romans is death.  However, through this Old Rugged Cross we are forgiven and freed from the verdict and stronghold of sin.  Through the Old Rugged Cross the eternal consequence of sin is destroyed and dissolved; sin does not dictate our eternal destiny.  In the cross of Christ, we are washed, the stain is lifted; sin no longer has damning authority over you and me. 

Baptized Saints, in Christ, you are forgiven; in Christ your sins have been cast into the ocean depth; in Christ your sins are distanced from you; in Christ you are totally and wholly forgiven. 

So, when the devil, the world, and your conscience throw your sins in your face declaring that you deserve death and hell, thus bringing forth shame and guilt, tell them this: “I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it?  For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf.  His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, where He is there I shall also be!  He bled and died for me to grant me forgiveness.  Sin, your damning eternal power has been destroyed for the nailed scarred hands of Jesus are the proof of that.”[1] 

May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

[1] Note: A paraphrase and adaptation of a Martin Luther quote.

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