No Guilt will be Found

Bible Reading: Jeremiah 51:29; 50:1-40

My friend and I sat by the river one January and reminisced about the incredible journey God had led us on in the previous year as we had explored the pages of the Bible together. God was breaking us free from spiritual strongholds which had held us captive for many years. Having planned a way to commemorate our newfound freedom, I had with me two big chains, a pair of heavy-duty cutters, and a page of scriptures that I had compiled about being freed from the "chains of sin." We wrapped the cold, heavy chains around our necks and read aloud the verses*. Then, standing to our feet, we helped each other cut through the thick chains we wore; it seemed symbolic of the way we had helped each other cut through Satan's lies. Once the links were cut, the chains slid off our necks and dropped at our feet. We picked them up with both hands and flung them, as far as we could, into the river, where they immediately sank without a trace!

Our chains will stay deeply buried in the bottom of the river for the rest of all time, never to be resurrected, providing a lasting memorial that reminds us, to this day, that we are no longer bound by the sins of our past. God has thrown all our sins into the depths of the ocean (Micah 7:19). We have been set free to run, unencumbered, the race of faith that God has set before us (Heb. 12:1).

The Israelites who were held captive in Babylon had long been captives to sin. Yet, because of God's rich mercy, they would be found guiltless when they came to him in genuine repentance. "The people of Israel and the people of Judah together will go in tears to seek the Lord their God. They will ask the way to Zion and turn their faces toward it.... 'In those days, at that time,' declares the Lord, 'search will be made for Israel's guilt, but there will be none, and for the sins of Judah, but none will be found, for I will forgive...'" (50:4-5, 20).

Like the "lost sheep" of Israel, we have wandered over mountain and hill, forgetting our own resting place and being devoured by the enemy of our soul (50:6-7). If we will "go in tears to seek the Lord" and "ask the way" to freedom, and then turn our faces to follow in that way, we will find a gentle Shepherd who is ready to forgive our sins and lead us back into our "true pasture, the Lord" (50:4-5,7).

When God forgives, our sin is stamped "PAID" and will never again be charged to our account. Through the power of the cross, our "scarlet" sins turn "white as snow" and melt away in the light of God's presence (Is. 1:18; 1 Jn. 1:7-9). God removes our transgressions as far away from us as east is from west (Ps. 103:12). Why, then, do we go searching for our own guilt? Why are we unable to accept that we are forgiven? Why do we let confessed sins weigh us down, as if still chained by them, when in God's reckoning, our sins cannot be found and our guilt no longer exists?

Satan would like to make us think that we will never be free from the shame of what we've done. He convinces us to hold onto our shame so we will fail to recognize and live out our freedom in Christ. When he tries to condemn us, we can go to the river of God's mercy and see for ourselves that our chains are still gone. Even if we went looking for them, we wouldn't be able to find them! We need not be bound by anything except "to the Lord in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten" (50:5). We can trade in our heavy chains of sin for God's redemptive cords of love. "I will bind you to me forever with chains of righteousness and justice and love and mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness and love, and you will really know me then as you never have before" (Hosea 2:19-20 LB).

*Ps. 18-19 (LB); 107:13-15, 20 (LB); 116:16; Micah 7:19; Gal. 5:1; Heb. 12:1-3; Rom. 6:6-23 (Msg); Hosea 2:18b-20 (LB); 1 Jn. 3:18-22 (Msg).