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1 John 1:8-9

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Having looked at humanity’s objective guilt before God as well as the reality of guilt feelings in some detail, it is now time to discuss the solution. Guilt is real, guilt feelings are real, and to escape the weight of both of these we need a real answer. Scripture gives us the answer—real forgiveness. On a human level, we see this all the time. People are routinely burdened by guilt for wrongs they have committed against one another. Parents carry a load of remorse for the ways in which they have failed in their task. Well into adulthood, sons and daughters often feel shame for how they acted when they were teenagers and rebelled against their parents. On their deathbeds, people often seek reconciliation with friends and family before they pass. All of these people are seeking one thing—forgiveness from those who have been hurt by their words and deeds. True forgiveness is a powerful thing to observe. It can restore relationships and reunite families. It can ease sadness in the forgiven and eliminate bitterness in the one who does the forgiving. Our own experience testifies to this, but the power of forgiveness is also an important theme in the biblical account. One needs only to read the story of Joseph (Gen. 37–50) in order to gain a new perspective on what true forgiveness can achieve. If this is true on the human–human level, how much truer is it on the human–divine level? The guilt we have incurred objectively for breaking God’s law and the guilt we feel subjectively as a result make up the heaviest burden that will ever weigh upon us. Knowing that we have offended an infinitely holy Lord is something none of us can finally suppress. Despite our best efforts to ignore our sinful condition, in our heart of hearts we always know that we are guilty of not meeting God’s standard. Until we receive forgiveness from our Creator, we feel dirty and defiled, and the only solution is the cleansing that is available through forgiveness. The good news of the biblical message is that the Lord is willing and ready to forgive us when we turn from our sins. At our conversion, we are justified and forgiven, and the guilt of our sin is no longer placed on our accounts, for it is imputed to Christ and His righteousness is imputed to us. But after conversion, when we fall short, forgiveness and cleansing are available again and again. If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive them (1 John 1:8–9).

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Our sin is worthy of infinite punishment, but the good news of the gospel is that our Lord is infinitely merciful toward His people. He does not hold anything back when He forgives us, but He lavishes His grace upon us when we turn from our wicked ways and rest in Him alone. If you are feeling guilty and dirty this day, know that cleansing and restoration are readily available if you repent and ask God for forgiveness in the name of Christ Jesus.

For Further Study
  • Isaiah 30:18
  • Joel 2:12–13
  • Ephesians 2:4
  • Hebrews 4:16

A Guilty Conscience

Receiving God’s Forgiveness

Keep Reading What's so New about the New Covenant?

From the May 2014 Issue
May 2014 Issue