23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)
Today’s passage helps us with our guilt and shame.
When Jesus lifted his cup of wine saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you,” He was establishing the covenant of grace. The Old Testament or the Old Covenant was a Covenant of law. To remain in covenant with God, to receive His blessing and gifts, a person had to keep the law. And this was impossible. God knew it would be impossible from the very beginning.
In a diminished way, the Old Covenant of the law was a covenant of grace. In His knowledge of our inability to live in perfection, God offered forgiveness through the blood sacrifice of an animal. It was a form of grace, but not the fullness of grace. Salvation still had to be earned.
Under the Covenant of law, salvation was earned by not sinning or performing all the rituals necessary to enact His grace. Their only hope was moral perfection or religious perfection. This too, however, was impossible. But God had a plan from the beginning. He would send Jesus to become a man who lived morally and religiously with perfection. He fulfilled man’s part of the covenant. And this translated salvation from a reward to a gift.
When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, He gifts us salvation despite our sins. Our sin is not held against us. What freedom we have now to release our guilt and shame. His blood has covered the sin. God removes it from us as if we never did it. Any guilt or shame we feel does not come from God. It comes from Hell. And if our spiritual enemies can keep us weighed down in guilt and shame, our life will reflect a doubt that Christ’s death was effective in covering our sins.
The fact that we do not keel over dead when we sin against God proves that God keeps His part of the covenant. We are receiving what was earned by Christ, but because He earned it, we receive it as a gift to free us from guilt and shame. Guilt and shame work to separate us from God. His forgiveness draws us nearer even when we have sinned.
Prayer: Lord, help me remember that Jesus earned what I couldn’t and gifted me salvation and the forgiveness of all my sin. Amen.