For years I struggled with guilt among other things. I found myself falling over the same hurdles over and over again. And the more times I fell, the more guilty I felt. I knew the things I was doing was wrong, and I would repent over and over, but still I felt the weight of my sin on my back every day.
When I was at a particular camp service at Lakewood Park Bible Camp, I found a freedom I hadn’t known existed before. I gave God everything one last time. I gave him all my sins AND all my guilt. I did one thing more that sealed my freedom. I told someone what God had set me free from.
A few months later when I realized I had not struggled with either the weight or temptation to repeat my sins, God gave me an analogy of freedom that I will never forget:
Every time we sin, we are placed in shackles. Shackles are heavy and we are bound by them. We ask God for forgiveness with a guilty heart. He looks at us with love and says, “My child, my child, I love you. Of course I will forgive you!” With that, God reaches down with the key covered in the blood of Christ, and He unlocks the shackles that have us bound. We, however, go about our lives carrying the shackles on our shoulders. The weight of what we have done drags us down, we feel guilty even though we are forgiven, and we despise ourselves.
Then Satan comes along. He sees us in our vulnerability and guilt. He says things like, “Once more won’t hurt.” “You are already guilty.” “Sinner. You dirty rotten sinner.” “How can God forgive you?” And we, being weak, fall to the temptation before us. We take the shackles off our shoulders and lock them around our ankles once again, bound by the same sin that God had forgiven us from. And the sin cycle begins.
Again and again we fall and repent, fall and repent. Every time God, with a broken heart says, “My child, my child, I love you! Of course I will forgive you!” See, the only way we can truly be free is if we not only repent, but also give God everything. If we do not give God everything, we will fall time and again to the guilt and temptation.
So, with a repentant heart, we ask for forgiveness one more time. God says, “My child, my child, I love you! Of course I forgive you.” God unlocks the shackles. This time, we give God the shackles instead of carrying them on our shoulders. He takes not only the sin that has bound us, but he takes the guilt and shame too. He wipes us clean. He throws it as far as the east is to the west, never to be seen or heard of again. And we can serve God in complete freedom from that which had bound us for so long.