“…we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” -Galatians 2:16 ESV
One of the biggest sources for pain in someone who has messed up is the fear that they have separated themselves from God. They believe that they are no longer able to receive forgiveness or grace. They believe this because they are fully aware that they did something they knew was wrong. They knew it and they still did it and, to them, that’s the end. The only problem is, they’re still alive.
They find themselves in need of the thing they took for granted. They realize that they didn’t really understand grace before. They didn’t understand why Jesus had to do what He did because they didn’t really feel like they needed it. They didn’t know that this sin was inside them all along. Now that they can see it, now that they’ve witnessed it for themselves, they can do nothing about it. It’s done and they believe they’re ruined. The better they thought they were before their fall, the worse the reality of lack is for them.
People will give them a set of criteria in order to prove their way back in. People will give them the task of cleaning themselves up before they can be forgiven. This is not only an impossible task, it’s complete disregard for why Jesus came. These “others” don’t really understand grace. They don’t see their own lack.
I’m not trying to share a message about works vs. faith. There is enough of that out there. Without the reminder of the truth, humans tend to gravitate to a gospel of behavior. They lean more toward Buddha’s karma than in Jesus’s gift. A superstitious faith believes that manna falls from the sky because they did something correctly. They forget that manna falls from the sky because God said it would.
I don’t think it’s hard for people to believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died for our sins. It’s not personal at that point. I think it’s harder to believe that what He did is for them. Then it’s personal. We know our own unworthiness too well and it feels like Jesus is way off in the distance. It feels like He’s out of reach.
I’m going to tell you the truth and I’ll do it with faith that when you hear it, you can believe it. Being justified is “a formal and legal acquittal from guilt by God as Judge, the pronouncement of the sinner as righteous, who believe on the Lord Jesus (Vine’s Concise Dictionary).”
Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. -Acts 13: 38-40 ESV
You are not free from guilt because you dug yourself out and rebuilt the house you burnt down. Your former house was one that had faulty wires hidden in the walls. You don’t live there anymore and when God rebuilds you, He’ll rebuild with the truth. No more faulty wires, no more of the sin that hid itself from you. You still have things you’ll have to deal with in the future, but for now, at least you’re better than you were before.