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Verdict In: Not Guilty

John 8:32

You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

When I was a little girl growing up in Kenya, my parents would pack up the family twice a year, and we would head off to a week-long missions retreat. During the day, my parents would sit through business meetings and sessions while the kids played or had some sort of structured activity time.  In the evening, we would all come together after dinner for a church-type service.

I loved going to our mission retreats.  They were truly the highlight of my year.  Whether it was the anticipation of going to the beach for a week, or seeing my MK friends who went to boarding school, or the super-cute MK boy who lived in Malawi (and all the girls swooned); there was so much to look forward to.  However, along with my giddy excitement came a nagging sense of guilt and fear.  Not only would I be seeing the cute boy from Malawi, but I would also be seeing lots of missionary Aunts and Uncles.  I loved my surrogate family very much; however, I lived in a perpetual state of fear that God was whispering in their ears all the bad thoughts I’d had, or the fact that I neglected to do my devotions for over a month, or the times I had lied to my mom and dad throughout the year.  They were about the most godly people I had ever known, and I was certain they were going to call me out, read my mail, and the true ugliness of my soul would be exposed.

This never happened, of course.  The only time someone had a word from the Lord for me was to encourage and uplift, never to condemn and judge.  Still, the fear was always there.

Interestingly, I still struggle with guilt.  Whether or not I’ve done anything wrong, I am always waiting with baited breath for someone to come and call me on the carpet for all my sins.  I have discovered that I am a victim of condemnation…and that has never been God’s intention or plan for my life.

Paul tells us that there is no condemnation for those of us who are in (who know and are known by) Christ Jesus.  No condemnation.  No guilt.  As far as God is concerned, our slate has been washed clean, and we can stand before him blameless.  We are in Christ Jesus.

Jesus is truth.  Jesus is the embodiment of all that is right and holy.  If we are in him, and if we know him, then we know truth.  Truth sets us free.  And the truth is that God sent his Son to die on a cross and conquer death, so that our sins could be covered and forgiven.  The truth is that we are sinful people, in spite of being new creations, but because Jesus is in us, we receive a pardon for our past, present, and future.

Just as Jesus is the truth, he also reveals the truth.  This has been a powerful lesson for me.  I know Jesus.  Therefore, I can go to him, in whatever state I am in, and ask him to lead me and guide me in the truth.  I love how David articulated his plea for the truth in Psalm 139:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

If my mind is cloudy, and I am feeling the weight of oppressive guilt and shame, all I need to do is call on God.  Ask him to search my heart, invite him in to my thoughts, and allow him to lead me on the path that will bring him glory.  As he reveals his truth (not mine) to me, then I experience freedom in him.

If I have stumbled, then he gently lets me know, and he will guide me to repentance.  If I am simply walking along with undue guilt and shame, then he will bring clarity and assurance.  Either way, I am free.

The fact of the matter is those of us who are in Christ Jesus are no longer guilty.  Do we still sin?  Yes.  But true conviction, brought by the Holy Spirit, should not choke us up in guilty chains.  Rather, conviction of sin should motivate us to Godly sorrow and a hunger for repentance.  Guilt is not from God.  Shame and condemnation are not from God.

The verdict is in, my friends.  And it reads, “NOT GUILTY!”

*For more on this subject, I would highly encourage you to read the book How People Grow, by Cloud and Townsend (authors of Boundaries).

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3 Responses to “Verdict In: Not Guilty”

  1. sister sheri says:

    Amy, this is such a good reminder of why we need one another… because sometimes when I feel guilty… or evenmoreso… depressed… if I persevere against the isolation and speak the words to someone, it is as if they lose their grasp on me.

    Sometimes I am much harder on myself when I feel guilty… and God’s grace is so free… that I might feel better if I did penance, but that would mean His Grace comes at a price… and I need to become more at ease accepting His “not guilty” verdict.

  2. Loretta Wideman says:

    Amy, you are such an amazing writer. I love reading your thoughts.

    I have in the past and always will highly respect you.

    Love you,

  3. Debi M. says:

    Oh, one of my favorite books of all time – How People Grow! Such a good reminder that God looks at us believers and sees Christ. I need this reminder that I am no longer guilty but have been redeemed.

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