Guilt magnifies our sins. It is God’s gift to the world that people feel guilty, most people — even unbelievers– feel some tinges of guilt at least sometimes. And the Holy Spirit is the Helper in this. He shines the light of the gospel in the dark basements and attics of our souls so we can be cleansed, so we can be freed and healed.
But when we resist God, when we resist the Spirit we are doing so because we think the sin is too big, too grimy, too sticky, too gross. We’re afraid of the sin and its consequences. We don’t believe the gospel about our particular sin.
I can’t confess that sin because it would destroy my wife. I can’t confess that sin because it would ruin my career. I can’t confess that sin because it would let everyone down.
But that is to look up at your sin, as though it is a giant standing over you, mocking you. And you are afraid of it, afraid of the consequences.
But Jesus came to bind the strong man, to take down the devil and every giant-demon of sin. This doesn’t mean that consequences evaporate, but the confidence and courage we need to deal with sin has everything to do with where we are standing.
When you’re standing down in the valley of self-sufficiency, doing your best to handle the demons yourself, you will lose. You will lose because you have not believed the gospel, and therefore you are still guilty. You have not believed that Jesus died for that sin, that His blood frees you from that sin. And because you have not believed that grace, you are not standing in that grace. You are still guilty of that sin, and you have not been made right with God. But when we are justified, made right with God, and we have peace with Him, we stand in that grace. This is not to say that we must be re-justified every time we sin, but sanctification is always the application of our justification to every new sin or failure. We always need that original grace and forgiveness every day of our lives. You can’t overcome sin when you’re standing on your own, standing down in the valley with all the giants. The only way to beat sin is by standing up on the rock of Christ. Grace is a fortress; grace is a strong tower on a high mountain. When you’re up on the Rock, up in the fortress of forgiveness, you can look down and smile at all of your enemies.
There they are all arrayed before you: lust, anger, bitterness, lies, betrayal, hatred, whatever. When you’re down in the valley, they surround you and they tower over you. And you are tempted to run and hide and pretend that they are not there, but when you’re standing up high on the Mount of Grace, they shrink and become small and insignificant. You begin to see your sin the way God does, and He assures you that He can take care of it. He can handle it.
Yes, there can sometimes be severe and significant consequences to sin, but if you are standing up high, in the fortress of forgiveness, justified and cleansed, you will not fear any enemy, any consequence. You will not hide your sin, you will not run from it. You will see it for what it is: small, mangy, and weak. And by the power of the Spirit, you will be able to defeat it.