For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow sprinkled on those who are defiled consecrated them and provided ritual purity, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our consciences from dead works to worship the living God. (Hebrews 9:13, 14 NET)
Ash Wednesday plunges us into the season of Lent, traditionally a time of contemplation and drawing near to Christ and the Cross. It is a time to sacrifice, give up, anything that separates us from Christ. For many that will mean giving up little pleasures like chocolate, or video games, or meat. But after reading the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd devotion “20 things to Give Up for Lent” that I shared yesterday, I have decided to sacrifice internal walls that keep me from Christ and His Cross. Admittedly, doing this will require constant vigilance and rejection of thoughts, feelings, and maybe even some long held beliefs, and cling to Christ.
First on this Ash Wednesday I give up GUILT for Lent because Guilt separates me from the recognition of what Christ’s Blood does for me.
For sure, I am guilty of a multitude of sins, but when I allow those sins to leap from the shadows, hurl me into scenarios past, and strangle me, I deny Christ and the power of His blood to forgive and sanctify me. By the same token, if I harbor unconfessed sins, I deny that same power to cleanse me.
The Time has come to recognize guilt for what it is, a tool of Satan. It is not nor has it ever been a tool of God. Over and over scripture tells us that God does not condemn us. God saves us. The Holy Spirit convicts me of sin so that I can recognize my need for forgiveness, my need to repent, and my great need for Christ. The Holy Spirit’s conviction does not creep into my mind with graphic reminders of past sins nor does it taunt me with what I have failed to do. Guilt may force me to do something good, but the motivation taints the action. Guilt over past infractions leads me to view myself as an unworthy servant of Christ. Guilt denies the POWER of the CROSS.
Not only is it a tool of Satan, it is also Satan’s tool in my hands. Anytime I use guilt to motivate another person…Spouse, Child, Parent, Friend…Anyone..I sin. But THANKS BE TO GOD, I can confess my sins, I can turn from my sin and I am forgiven, redeemed, worthy because He makes me worthy.
Guilt…I deny your entrance in my mind. With Christ’s help, I will not allow guilt to strangle the life out of me or separate me from the fullness of His presence or the ministry He has prepared for me. So YES, I am giving up GUILT for Lent and I invite you all to do the same.