“What God hath cleansed, that call thou not common”
There seem to be particular Christians who, though persevering and fruitful in their Christian walk, are constantly troubled or haunted by past sins. This leaves them with an unpredictably recurring guilt, and robs them of the joy that they feel they should have in Christ or the joy other Christians display around them.
Yes God has forgiven them, and they are more than thankful, but they cannot stop dwelling on particular sins….sins that in a sense seem too big for God to cover. They are repeatedly reminded of a particular past sin(s) and find themselves always analyzing it and condemning themselves because of it.
What is the problem here and what is the solution? Martyn Lloyd Jones addressed this issue in his great book, Spiritual Depression, and gives a very candid yet truthful look into the root of this condition. He bluntly puts it in this way:
“The trouble with this type of unhappy Christian is that he does not really believe the Scriptures. Have you thought of that? You say; ‘My trouble is that terrible sin which I have committed’. Let me tell you in the Name of God that that is not your trouble. Your trouble is unbelief. You do not believe the Word of God. I am referring to the First Epistle of John and the first chapter where we read this; ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’. That is a categorical statement made by God the Holy Spirit through His servant. There is no limit to it; there is no differentiation between sin and sin. I cannot see any qualification at all. Whatever your sin—it is as wide as that—it does not matter what it is, it does not matter what it was, ‘if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’. So if you do not believe that word, and if you go on dwelling on your sin, I say that you are not accepting the Word of God, you are not taking God at His word, you do not believe what He tells you and that is your real sin”
Believe the Word of God
We have to believe the word of God! It states something completely opposite than what we are believing. We have to make sure we think in terms of our standing or relationship with God, and NOT in terms of particular sins. If we are in union with Christ, we have be clothed with his righteousness. This is not a torn garment where several holes expose what is underneath, but a robe of righteousness that covers all sins, thanks be to the perfect obedience of Christ and imputation of that righteousness to those who call on His name. You are judicially declared righteous and your past, present, and future sins are covered!
“Let me sum it up in this way, therefore. You and I — and to me this is one of the great discoveries of the Christian life; I shall never forget the release which realizing this for the first time brought to me—you and I must never look at our past lives; we must never look at any sin in our past life in any way except that which leads us to praise God and to magnify His grace in Christ Jesus. I challenge you to do that. If you look at your past and are depressed by it, if as a result you are feeling miserable as a Christian, you must do what Paul did. ‘I was a blasphemer,’ he said, but he did not stop at that. Does he then say: ‘I am unworthy to be a preacher of the gospel’? In fact he says the exact opposite: ‘I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who hath enabled me, for that He counted me faithful putting me into the ministry, etc.’. When Paul looks at the past and sees his sin he does not stay in a corner and say: ‘I am not fit to be a Christian, I have done such terrible things’. Not at all. What it does to him, its effect upon him, is to make him praise God. He glories in grace and says: ‘And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus’.
Rise up and realize the truth about yourself, that all the past has gone, and you are one with Christ and all your sins have been blotted out once and for ever. “