When you read your Bible what is your perspective? What you should see when you read is Jesus. Religion wants you to see self. If every verse is “conviction” that you have done something wrong or need to work harder to get better (a nice way of saying condemnation) then stop, take a deep breath and look for Jesus. He is there I promise. Here is a great example:
Luk 7:47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven — for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “ Your sins are forgiven.” (ESV)
In my past, bound by religion and human effort, I would read into this story the following:
I am commanded to love God more or else I am not following His commands and if I am not following His commands I am lost so I better learn what it means to love Him more and it is obvious from this verse I need to be more aware of my sin because that is what it means to love more….(pause here for laughing)…and I know that Jesus said “if you love me you obey my commandments” so I better get on with the obeying and loving because I am in big trouble so down on my knees and beg for more forgiveness as I reflect on what a huge pile of poop I am so I can feel more remorse because that is what it means to be more aware of my sin so bring on the shame!
Can you identify with that diatribe? If not then praise God!!! If so, I have good news…it is all a lie from the enemy so flush it down the toilet. This story about the worshiping prostitute is actually such an amazing revelation of Jesus and not a tool to shame us.
Under the new covenant, under Grace, in Christ we GET TO see this differently. Under law we have no choice but to reflect on self and shortcomings since the law is an unattainable measuring stick. But under Grace we see Jesus since He is Grace. We see what He has done. In this case we see how deeply we are forgiven. The emphasis isn’t on our sin but on our forgiveness. The emphasis isn’t on what we have or haven’t done but on who God is. He is Jesus and He looks like Jesus. This woman saw the nature of God, the true nature of God. She didn’t see a lawyer waiting to judge. She saw a lover waiting to forgive. God is a God who justifies the ungodly (Rom 4:5). He is a redeemer, a reconciler, a restorer. This woman saw all of that in Jesus. In her believing she let the forgiving power of God work deep into her soul. She was forgiven deeply, completely, and unconditionally. This led her to worship. How could she not worship such a good God? Notice the order of events. She loved much because she knew she was forgiven much (deeply) then Jesus said “your sins are forgiven.” Her faith brought forgiveness. He confirmed it for the audience.
This story should make you ponder. Do you know how completely you have been forgiven? If it isn’t about how much you have sinned and our goal is to love much (actually to become love) then we must grasp how deeply we have been forgiven. Often we see forgiveness as just enough to get us into heaven. That would be religion talking. God forgives completely. Hebrews says He has forgotten our sin and there is no more sacrifice for sin (Heb 10:17-18). So what are we hanging on too? Where are we still feeling condemned in our hearts? Where are we feeling shame? Where have we not forgiven ourselves by receiving His forgiveness?
I believe that this whole story is about our shame. Sin brought shame but sin can be dealt with. Shame is from within. Shame is from our self. Shame was a product of bad eating habits (tree of knowledge of good and evil). The enemy uses shame to keep us from God, from relationship, from intimacy. Shame takes the place where love should be. God’s love for us is ready to be poured out if we only offload that shame, that condemnation, all the guilt. That is why Jesus died. That is why we need a revelation of the finished work of the cross. That is why Grace works. That is why Jesus is the end of us, the end of a sin nature, an end to all the voices. He did it all. He finished it all. Check out these verses:
[Rom 5:16, 18 ESV] 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. … 18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.
[Rom 8:1 ESV] 1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
[Rom 8:3, 34 ESV] 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, … 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
[Rom 5:5 ESV] 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
[Rom 9:33 ESV] 33 as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
[Rom 10:11 ESV] 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”
Let Jesus forgive you. He died for that right. Not only that but His very nature is to forgive and remove shame. He did it in the garden for Adam and Eve when He gave them clothes. He has done it for us by becoming a man and dying. Go deep, way deep down and just let go of the shame. He takes your shame. He takes your guilt. He takes away condemnation. When this shame-filled place is all cleaned out then the new wineskin can receive the fullness of His love. Once you have tasted love and have surrendered to His forgiveness you will never be the same. We have a clean conscience (Heb 10:22) and the enemy has no more power over you. It is called freedom. Never again let the enemy say “shame on you.” He has no right. He has no power. Jesus is King and you are His bride. You are the son of source of love. You are Abba’s child.