My sin - oh the bliss of this glorious thought! -
My sin, not in part, but the whole
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh, my soul!
These words are found in the old hymn "It is Well With My Soul," and we sang it tonight at a church that my wife and I visited here in Raleigh. I've long loved this hymn and considered it my favorite, because it talks about how no matter what kinds of storms or hardships may bear down on life, we can anchor our hope in God and experience joy through anything because He is faithful.
Well tonight, this later verse in the song hit me even deeper. For a long time, I've carried around guilt associated with my struggles against the sins of lust and pornography. Even after confessing it, praying, telling the people I've hurt around me (like my wife) about it, I would still find myself feeling guilty about it. I felt like an awful person, unfaithful to my wife, a horrible role model especially since I know people look up to me... and then before long I'd be going back to it yet again... seemingly unable to break free from the bondage and enslavement of this evil desire in my heart. Then I'd hide it, and then it would only get worse, and then a breaking point would come and I would confess it to God, then go and tell someone about it again so that I could "be accountable," and then ultimately have to go to my wife again and confess it to her and ask her to forgive me again. But no matter how hard I would struggle against it, I always kept feeling the guilt of it. The guilt led to fear, the fear led to lack of faith, and the vicious cycle would repeat itself.
Most recently, just last month, I had to confess openly yet again that this struggle continues to knock me down. And even up to today, though at times the temptation to sin in this area subsides, it also still hits hard at others. And every time it does (sometimes prompted by something I see or just something that comes up in my own mind), and I let myself even dwell on impure thoughts for what I consider to be a moment too long, I begin to feel guilty yet again for all the times I've failed and for having the thoughts in that moment.
So getting back to the song: as we sang it tonight in church, I felt the words of this particular verse hit me even deeper than they ever have before. They declare the Biblical truths found in Colossians 2:13-14 and 1 Peter 2:24 which say: "When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross," and "He [Jesus] himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed."
For all who acknowledge their sinfulness and trust in Jesus and call upon the Name of the Lord to be saved-- our sins have been nailed to cross of Christ; they died with Him on that tree almost 2,000 years ago! And even though He arose from that death He died, our sins remain in the grave, dead and gone forever. And not just the past sins, but the present ones and the future ones too! "Even the future ones," the pastor preached tonight, "that we cannot even imagine ourselves capable of committing!" What is this grace that God gives us so freely?
My mind cannot even fully fathom the kind of love that God has demonstrated in Christ, but tonight I feel like a heavy weight was finally lifted off my shoulders. I bear this sin, it's guilt and it's shame too, NO MORE! That means I am free to confess openly the terribleness of my sin, and I don't have to hide it! I am free to no longer live enslaved to a master that is now dead! My Master LIVES! My Master has set me free to follow HIM! My master LOVES ME! And I love Him.
"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." - 1st Corinthians 15:57.