I lied the other day. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not in the habit of lying, and on a scale of 1 to 10 in importance, this particular fib probably came in at around a 1.5. But it was a lie nonetheless. I had found myself in an awkward situation and before I knew it, my mouth was uttering words that were untrue. Immediately my conscience assaulted me, but its influence was not enough for me to correct myself on the spot. Within 60 seconds the situation was over, yet a nagging sense of guilt remained.
There are only so many ways that we can deal with our sin. The most common, perhaps, is to attempt to justify ourselves; to minimize any wrong doing on our part by downplaying the gravity of the situation or by placing the blame on others. Humans are masters of self-deception, and if we do something enough times with a convoluted mindset, wrong behavior will eventually be lauded as being right.
Another frequently utilized approach is to simply stuff the guilt into the recesses of our hearts. We know the deed was wrong, and we feel really bad about our actions, but what are we to do? In order to get on with life we cram our guilty feelings in with all of the guilty feelings from days gone by. Like overstuffed grocery bags, many of our guilt sacks are bursting at the seams, creating an underlying and inescapable sense of unworthiness.
The first approach means that we can do nothing wrong; the second screams that we do practically everything wrong. The first is tiresome because we are compelled to constantly protect our delusional egos. Each difficult situation requires that we somehow deflect any personal sense of responsibility for inappropriate actions, all while managing to create straw enemies to be identified as the source of all that is bad. But because this coping method is highly delusional, over time our self-deception becomes our reality, and so self-justification can eventually become entirely natural. Those who try to cram or stuff their guilt, on the other hand, live in a very real world of self-condemnation, creating a thoroughly exhausting sense of self-loathing–the result of which is often manifests in overeating and various other addictions.
There is a better way, of course. Even from the very beginning of time, God thoroughly understood how exhausting life would be in this sin-soaked world. And even from the very beginning of time, our heavenly Father designed multiple cycles and systems of rest for the benefit of all humankind. From a good night’s sleep, to a Sabbath day, to a time of honest prayer at the foot of the cross, rest is a vital part of God’s plan for His people. Even under the strict and exhausting Mosaic Law, God commanded periodic days—and even weeks–of rest. How much more would the New (and better) Covenant in Christ provide rest for our bodies and our souls?
It is through the New Covenant in Christ—and only through the New Covenant in Christ—that we can find thorough and complete rest from our guilt. You see, the other day when I lied, I chose not to minimize my guilt, or deflect the blame, or wrestle with condemnation, or bury my wrongdoing. No, within minutes I went directly to God in prayer, confessing my pride and deceit with total honesty before my Lord. Knowing that I have the privilege of coming to God’s throne through faith in Jesus Christ, and knowing that the heavenly Father hears His children’s prayers, and knowing that He is always willing and ready to forgive through the blood of Jesus, I was able to make short work of my guilt and move on with my day.
Life has so many challenges that we are foolish to drag around a ball and chain of guilt—a weight that our heavenly Father long ago made provision to remove. While it is exhausting not to believe in Jesus, the opposite holds true. In the shadow of the cross, through faith in the sacrificial death and resurrection of the Christ, we can find real rest for our souls. For this I am ever thankful!