We walk into church, having recently made the decision to follow Jesus. We feel the stares. Perhaps they are in our head, perhaps they are not. We feel so vulnerable, exposed. We still feel shame about our past. We recognize some people in the congregation, people who knew us before we accepted Christ. We feel like imposters. What must they think of us? We turn around, ready to head for the exit doors. But the usher motions for us to take a seat, as service is about to start. We sink into the chair, wishing ourselves invisible. The shame of our past is still fresh, and we wonder if we are really okay with God.
Who are you now?
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
A Beautiful Truth
Sin bears grief, but salvation brings forth joy. As children of God, we now have unspeakable joy (1 Peter 1:8). Now that Christ is our Lord, how does God see us now? Look at what Isaiah says. We are now clothed with the garments of salvation and a robe of righteousness. Instead of the ashes of mourning in our head, we have been given a beautiful crown (Isaiah 61).
Now that we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we have an incredible present and future. Our past no longer has power over us, nor can it dictate our future. Paul knew that better than most.
A few days after his conversion, Paul almost immediately began to preach about Jesus. He must have been the talk of the town. The man who persecuted those who loved Jesus had now come to love that same Jesus himself (Acts 9:19-22).
But there were some who doubted the authenticity of his conversion. After Saul left Damascus, he went to Jerusalem and attempted to join the disciples there. However, they refused to accept him as a true disciple. We can imagine why. Could they trust this man whose past included inflicting persecution?
The disciples at Jerusalem refused to receive Paul because they did not believe he had changed (Acts 9:26).
We may have people who knew us before we came to know Jesus. They may have witnessed us engaging in sinful behavior. But that is our past. What is true of us now is that our sins have been washed away by the blood of Jesus. What is true of us now is that God sees us through Christ. We have glorious garments, adorned with jewels, and a crown. That is a beautiful truth.
Watch Session Four
The Turning Point
Are there shameful parts of your past—or present—that are affecting your habits and actions? Do you believe that Jesus takes away your shame?
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