Is there a sin that you struggle to get past? That marks you? Where you relive your stupidity or the shame that came as a result? I do. The contempt I feel towards myself for something that happened 10 years ago has left its mark. I could intellectually brush it with, “Jesus forgave that sin on the Cross,” and that is true but pride and fear keep me from realizing what the cross really means to me.
When I think of being “marked by sin” I think of the leper, or the woman who wouldn’t stop bleeding or the man who had a disease and couldn’t walk, supposing, as the religious leaders thought, they’re infirmities were the result of sin. The sins that result in something seen like sickness, divorce, imprisonment or an unwanted pregnancy leave a certain mark. But the sins that may go unnoticed like stealing, lying, or contempt don’t so noticeably mark us although they still have the same ability to dictate what we think and feel about ourselves and God.
I combat the work of shame by identifying with Christ – meaning I acknowledge and offer a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving that I am marked by Him rather than by my sin. I battle to not feel contempt towards myself and others involved when I relive that day that happened so many years ago. Simply put, there is no way to explain away the sin in my mind. There is absolutely nothing I can do to punish myself more, or change my “behavior”. It is by grace I am saved and not of myself. I have a new mark.
I attended a conference where a presentation was given that I will never forget. After a dramatic entry, a line of about 7 women entered the stage, each holding up a sign. Each sign was labeled with the sin that marked them before Christ: fear, contempt, shame, abused, liar, un-forgiveness, rape, and abortion. Then, the speaker said, “but today this is who they are in Christ.” Each woman stepped forward in their turn and turned the sign around to show who they were in Christ: beloved, daughter of the King, forgiven, set free, healed, loved, you get the picture. It was powerful! This has stuck with me since and is a stark reminder of the simplicity of God remembering my sins no more!
Another way, I combat contempt and shame is through the Word. Peter, the fisherman, after his Come-to-Jesus moment, rejected Jesus, even after Jesus told him he would. I can only imagine the shame Peter felt. I am so grateful God recorded these events, especially those of failure. Peter could have very well forsaken the call to fish for men because of the mark from failure. Instead, Peter let faith have its perfect work in his life, where he would become marked by Christ – an instrument of revival for the kingdom of God.
I am encouraged that God takes both willful and un-willful sins, and pulls all things together into something beautiful! What other gods do that! He is not dependent on me. Nothing can separate me from God’s love – absolutely no sin! I think I heard someone say something like this: “the only thing between me and the Cross is what I put there.” My new mark: a daughter of the King, Forgiven, Healed and Redeemed! He remembers my sins no more!