Recently I have being accompanying a person who is struggling with terrible shame; the past is a ball and chain dragged behind him. He finds it so hard to accept God's pardon and to pardon himself. Until he can, he remains unfree.
My prayer is that he will hear deeply in his heart the words the Lord spoke to the woman caught in adultery: "I do not condemn you; go and do not sin again."
The solution to sin in our lives is not to beat ourselves with the stick of harsh self-condemnation, not to burden ourselves with an ever-stricter moral code, not to try to summon a fierce will power to bring about change.
The Gospel solution to sin is to know God and the power of his love. Divine love, accepted and received deep within, heals the wound of shame and self-rejection. Then we are free enough to love in return. His love experienced and let loose in our lives brings about our transformation.
Until we grasp this we do not really understand the Gospel. We can know the law of God by heart, but not know the heart of God. As you read this you may be particularly burdened by sin, by a sense of failure, by discouragement. God already loves you as much as an infinite God can possibly love, and that will never change.
Christians in Africa have a beautiful song: “Come to me brother, come to me sister, there is no condemnation in my heart.” It is Christ who sings this to us. Then we in our turn, having received his mercy and forgiven yourselves, must sing it to our brothers and sisters. “Come to me, there is no condemnation in my heart!”