My sweet friends,
A dear, old friend called me this week. I asked her if I could share her story, and she graciously told me that I could. I want you to hear "Mary's" story, because I don't think she is alone in her feelings, and we have got to put an end to the lies of the enemy..."once and for all."
Mary called this week because she was dealing with guilt and grief over the sins in her past. She was even questioning her salvation because of her feelings. Now, I know this woman...for decades...and I KNOW she loves and serves Jesus. I also know the sins she is constantly allowing to have power of her: abortion and adultery. Mary said something that hit me...she said that her sins were "ugly" sins. These "ugly" sins have caused untold devastation in her life through depression, feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness that have sucked the joy, purpose and nearly the life right out of her. She has tried to "make up for them" at times. Over the years she has sought healing through counseling (which is a good thing), asked forgiveness of the little one she aborted, worked in a Pro-Life clinic, been a supportive and loving wife to her husband and wonderful mom to her children. Still these sins haunt her. Why? Why? Why?
I am praising God right now because when she called this time, I was smack in the middle of working through this week's study in Hebrews...and just like God...it was perfect timing. I was able to share with her what I was learning about the power of the Christ's blood. I read to her the verses from Hebrews 10 and reading them aloud, I realized the emphasis put on the word "all": "By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Christ once for all. And "... but He having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God..." AND "For by offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified." (you, me and Mary:) I don't think you can misunderstand the all that "all" means...it's pretty straight forward. Jesus sacrificed Himself one time for ALL people and ALL sin.
We got to talking about what it means when you don't believe these "ugly sins" are forgiven...that they are not included in the "all." Coming your way are some "ugly" thoughts, but they are accurately ugly. When we have this attitude in us we are saying basically:
1. Satan's power over me in the past is more powerful than Jesus' power over my present and future.
2. The death of Jesus is enough to cover the "prettier sins" (no such thing by the way) but my sins are beyond the power of His redeeming blood.
3. I have to add something to the sacrifice of Christ and keep adding it until my guilt is gone (impossible by the way), then I will be forgiven.
The ugly truth is this: we are saying loud and clear, "Your death is not enough for me. There has to be more sacrifice for my "special"sins." Believing this lie is why some sins continue to haunt us.
So what does Satan gain by telling us these lies? Mary could tell you all he has stolen from her over the years. Every time an opportunity came for her to be of service in the body of Christ, she agonized over whether or not she was "good enough" or "ready." Many times she "shrunk away." She made poor decisions out of her feelings of guilt and unworthiness. Satan steals from Mary and from us all what is written toward the end of chapter 10 in Hebrews verses 19-25...confidence, assurance, hope, love, good deeds, friendship, encouragement. Satan gains a paralyzed servant of God, and we lose what we could be.
She called me back a day later to tell me she had picked up a devotional and flipped it open to read these words: "If you do not believe your sins are forgiven, than you are in a self-focused place believing that you and your sin have more power than God and His forgiveness." Only God can chastise us in such a way that the chastisement brings joy instead of shame and pain I could hear that Mary was filled to overflowing with pure delight.
I asked Mary if I could share her story because many of us struggle with these same thoughts. Satan brings to mind our mistakes, our failures, our sin and tries to take our minds off the truth: Our sins are GONE! Through the New Covenant cut with the precious blood of Christ we are forgiven, washed clean and have good work to do!! Hallelujah! That is why this truth is called "Good News" and not "nearly good news" or "almost totally good news" :)
We are redeemed completely but even more amazing is that our past is redeemed. Mary's past is redeemed through the redeeming work God has done in her life. Simply the telling of her story redeems her past. Through her work in the clinic, her counseling of young women faced with a choice, God brings redeeming work from her abortion. Now Mary can work not to receive forgiveness, but because if it!
Don't you love the words: "once and for all"?!!! Aren't they precious all inclusive words?
Love to you....