There have been times in my life when I’ve feared God’s anger. Before I was a Christian, this was a healthy fear, meant to show me my need for a Savior. I still remember many nights as a little girl when I was afraid to go to sleep because I thought God would judge me in His holy, righteous anger because of my unbelief.
Five years ago, God drew me to Himself and showed me great mercy through the cross. I understood for the first time that His death paid the penalty of my sin and that I am now raised to walk in newness of life (Romans 6). His death declared me righteous and His life enables me to live a life satisfying to God (not in my own ability, but rather through the strength of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit).
Since becoming a Christian, however, there are still times when I feel like God is angry at me. Typically these are during times when I am painfully aware of sins I’ve committed against God. I know God has forgiven me and accepted me as His child, but I fail to recognize that He sustains me every day. I don’t think He likes me, because I can see that I’m not “good enough” to earn His favor. And it’s easy at that point to find myself slip back into legalism and thinking that it’s up to me and my good works to keep God’s favor.
It’s especially during times like this that I need the gospel. I need the reminder that there is nothing in me that earned God’s forgiveness and grace. There is nothing in me that was righteous enough to turn God’s wrath away. And there is nothing in me that can earn His acceptance.
When I find myself struggling with condemnation and guilt, the answer is not to wallow there. I am called to remember that the following things are true:
- when I repent, I know that God will never count my sins against me (Romans 4:7-8)
- Jesus’ death was not only to reconcile me to God, but also to give me new life (Romans 5:9-10)
- The sins that discourage me are no longer my master (Romans 6:14)
- The work of Christ Jesus provides freedom from condemnation. (Roman 8:1-4)
Here’s how to beat condemnation. Confess your sin to God. Then believe in Him. Exercise the gift of faith that God has given you to believe that Jesus died for the very sins you’re being condemned for. The punishment He received was for you. His resurrection is proof that God accepted Jesus’ sacrifice. The sins of your past and the sin you just committed were all atoned for; you need carry their weight no more. – C.J. Mahaney