Guilt is a great life robber. Guilt holds us back, keeps us locked in fear, and prevents us from building the deep relationships we need to live the life God has for us. We will never be the people God has created us to be when guilt is allowed to flourish in our lives.
I have this sense that God is calling me to do something, but I have yet to do it. The reason is guilt. In my mind what God is asking me to do I am unqualified to do because of my past. It is the very same sin that I allowed for so long to exist in my life that God is now asking me to challenge. "But God," I say, "wouldn't someone untainted by this sin serve you better?" I am ashamed over what I have done and the guilt weighs me down. To step out in faith seems to be hypocritical. What I have forgotten is that my past is gone, my sin is atoned, and my guilt removed. The death and resurrection of Jesus make it possible for me, for us, to step out in faith no matter what we have done in the past.
Erwin McManus wrote; "No matter what kind of life you've lived, no matter how many wrong choices you've made, the next moment is waiting to give birth to new life"(Seizing Your Divine Moment; pg. 23). That is the truth we find in the life of everybody God has ever used, except in the life of Jesus (he never made a wrong choice). A prime example of this truth is a woman we meet in the book of Joshua.
Rahab was a prostitute. Her life was an existence of humiliation, abuse, loneliness, and rejection. She came to hear of the God of Israel, and when her time came she chose to step out in faith. She helped the two Israelites spies to escape Jericho. As a reward for her faith, not only was her family saved, but she became an ancestor of Jesus. She chose to forget the past and step out in faith.
Peter is another example. After Jesus is arrested Peter follows at a distant to see what is happening. Jesus is before the high priest Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin (the Jewish High Council) while Peter is outside in the court yard. The apostle is recognized as one of the men who followed Jesus. Peter denies that he is a follower. As the people around him probe further, Peter curses and denies that he even knows Jesus. Peter was guilty of the very thing he said he would never do.
After his resurrection, Jesus pulled Peter aside one morning and provided Peter with a choice. "Do you love me?" Jesus asks Peter three times. "You know that I love you," Peter responded. A few weeks later Peter stands up on the day of Pentecost and preaches to the crowd in Jerusalem. He chose to forget the past and step out in faith.
19 And so, dear brothers and sisters,we can boldly enter heaven's Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus.20 By his death,* Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.21 And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God's house,22 let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ's blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19-22, NLT)
The point is when we put our faith in Jesus, repent, and are baptized (Acts 2:38) our sins are forgiven. They have been dealt with and they no longer matter to God. We need to take a hold of that promise and stop letting guilt live in our lives. Since we have been forgiven we can choose to do the right thing and step out in faith to do whatever God has for us to do.