Day 20: “Peace With God”
Has your sin made you feel distant from God? When you fall back into unhealthy attitudes and addiction, does the shame overwhelm you and compromise your peace? How do we maintain peace in the midst of a fallen body still prone to wander and act out in sin?
“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love. – Romans 5:1–5
One of the biggest disruptors and vandalizers of Shalom in our lives is guilt, and its cousin shame is close behind. The enemy of our soul, who has been trying to compromise our dignity and dominion from the beginning, utilizes guilt and shame to bring our souls back into a state of chaos and confusion in regards to our relationship and standing with God. Here’s his scheme, which we need to understand if we are going to take a stand against it (Ephesians 6:11).
The enemy knows that at the root of the chaos inside of us and in our community is the spirit of pride. This is not a healthy pride, that boasts in God and His goodness, but a dark pride that wants to be god and call the shots. Ever since the first sin, when we disobeyed God and in sinful pride thought we knew better than He did what was best for us, the enemy has been leveraging that part of our flesh to compromise the Shalom with our Creator we were designed for.
In his letters, the apostle Paul constantly talks about our flesh and its inability to ever choose anything that glorifies God and bless others. It is utterly self-absorbed and driven by the pride of life to indulge temporal desires of pleasure, prosperity, and power. Our enemy knows this about us and pushes those buttons that seduce us, through our pride, to act out and fall into sinful behavior. The fruit of sin that comes out of our lives – like rage, lust, greed or hate – is linked to this deep pride inside of us that thinks we know what we need to be happy. We indulge our flesh, saying “This will finally satisfy my deepest desires and longings,” and even though it never did before, and actually made us worse off, we still pridefully indulge again and again and again, utterly deceived into believing we can somehow “make it work.”
The enemy’s endgame isn’t just to get us to act out and fall back into our sinful addictions and attitudes. He wants us to forget Jesus, and especially the cross. If he can get us to forget Christ, the power of the cross, and the eternal peace with God that was purchased there by the blood of Messiah, then he has won a great battle. He is able to pull our minds out of the state of Shalom we are meant to rest in and back into the chaos of this world. His goal is the same as it has always been – to get us out of God’s presence and to convince us that God isn’t loving or good, and that we are condemned and rejected for eternity. The temptation of guilt that comes in the aftermath after we fall into sin is where he does his best work of vandalizing Shalom in our lives. He whispers, “You might as well live for hell since heaven doesn’t want you now.”
Guilt and shame are interesting emotions because they can easily be misinterpreted as the godly sorrow (which is a healthy emotion) that comes when we chose to indulge our fleshly desires instead of crucifying them (Galatians 5:24). We are supposed to mourn our sinful tendencies and hate them, but when, in weakness, we choose to yet again live out of the flesh instead of by the Spirit, our pride goes into overdrive mode and we feel the need to grovel in guilt before God and somehow make penance for our lack of discipline. We feel so guilty because we know we screwed up and dropped the ball, and so embarrassed since we know in our heart of hearts how wicked we are – how “prone we are to wander.” Like the first humans, we try to hide from God and others, and guilt and shame are the fig leaves we use. We grovel and beat ourselves up, punish ourselves and then vow again and again to be stronger and wiser and more disciplined and in control next time… but it never works out, does it? Guilt and shame make us more and more miserable and hopeless, and they pull us further and further away from God-reliance and deeper into self-reliance (AKA religion). There’s no peace or freedom there, dear friend, just pain and deeper bondage. It’s a vicious cycle. Our sin leads to guilt and shame and so we sin more to try and medicate away those awful feelings, but then that produces even more guilt and shame, and the cycle continues…
But the gospel is the power of God to utterly break us free from the power of sin because it makes a simple statement summarized well by Mike Khandjian:
“Jesus didn’t primarily come to make you perfect; He came to make you His!”
Here’s what happens when we believe and rest in this reality – our hearts reject the guilt and shame that tries to take us out of God’s presence and back into self-reliance. When our hearts are believing the gospel of grace, and that there is absolutely NO condemnation left for us since it has been totally placed upon Christ (Romans 8:1), we can breathe out all the guilt and shame inside of us and breathe in the Shalom of God’s restorative presence. You ARE at peace with God, once and for all. That’s the reality of your standing before Him. You ARE fully justified (by faith) and that means God now looks on you and treats you just as if you never sinned. God has made you HIS, His precious beloved one. The blood of Jesus on the cross has made you completely righteous in His sight, and even your flesh in all its mess can’t change what the cross has accomplished once and for all. “It is finished” friend! YOU ARE NOT GUILTY! The shame of all your sin has been removed and placed on your naked, bleeding, crucified Savior instead of on you. Of course, the enemy’s endgame is for us to not believe such a powerful reality. Of course, he wants us to forget this. Of course, he wants us to start operating again in guilt-groveling-shame that makes us miserable and powerless.
When the flesh acts out again and again in the midst of this fallen world, which it will do (Romans 7), we must see that this is not our true self. The true you, who belongs body and soul to God forever, is at rest and at peace with God. You are beloved no matter what, and you cannot let guilt or shame disrupt the Shalom of that reality. It’s okay not to be perfect and get it all right, take the pressure off and rest in your belovedness as God’s fully accepted child. Bask in the endless grace afforded to you through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Joyfully repent as you acknowledge your weakness and brokenness this side of glory, and allow your suffering to produce real perseverance, real character, and an even deeper hope in God.
“For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. It (that grace) teaches us to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave His life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us His very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.” Titus 2:11–14
1. Where are the areas in your life that the enemy utilizes guilt and shame to pull you out of God’s presence and into self-reliance and religion? Get real with God about your pride and self-help mentality and ask Him to give you a deeper reliance on Him.
2. Take some time to mourn in God’s presence the attitudes and addictions of your flesh. Mourn the brokenness they bring to you and others. Mourn the pain you have experienced because of the ways others’ sin has wounded you and your sin has wounded others. During this mourning, you will feel the temptation to feel guilty and ashamed of your sin. Take a deep breath and breathe that all out in God’s presence and then breathe in a deep refreshing breath of grace as you are reminded of your belovedness in the midst of all your brokenness. You ARE a fully restored child of God in Christ. You are not the wounds you have received or inflicted. In Jesus’ name all guilt and shame is removed.
3. As you are honest about the selfish pride of your flesh, get honest with yourself about how loved you are by God. Let His love restore the Shalom that guilt and shame have tried to vandalize. In that place of perfect peace show compassion on yourself for all your failings. They are right there in the light for you and God to see together, and He has shown you compassion and now asks you to show yourself compassion. He doesn’t want you to beat yourself up over your sin, Jesus was already beaten up in your place once and for all, and the Father doesn’t want any more of His kids to have to suffer unnecessarily because of sin. From a place of compassion toward yourself, let a healthy curiosity awaken that allows you to strategically look at the ways your flesh acts out and begin to see the patterns of why it does. Begin to see the areas of unbelief in your life and start repenting of those instead of just repenting of the behaviors that grow out of those areas of unbelief. Write those areas of unbelief out and surrender them to God in simple faith, believing that He can and will set you free from them.