As Christians, we are saved by Christ. His blood has atoned for our sin. He died for our punishment instead of us, so that we can live. Not just so we can live ordinary average lives, but so that we can live life abundantly. But are we really doing that?
So many Christians live in fear, with constant feelings of guilt, shame, purposelessness and inadequacy. I too struggle with these feelings. These seem like pretty normal emotions for humans, but they actually shouldn't be for those saved by Christ. I believe that these feelings largely stem from a misunderstanding of the Gospel and Salvation.
When we claim the payment Jesus gave, as our own, we are saved from all our sins, past and future. When we live with guilt and shame for the wrong things we've done, though, we are acting as if we don't fully believe in Christ's power and words He has spoken to us in the Bible. I would like to clarity here that I'm not talking about guilt for current wrong behavior; the Holy Spirit does convict us of sin still present in our lives, which is something we should not ignore.
I am instead referring to prolonged feelings of guilt and failure, even after acknowledgment of and repentance of sins. As Christians, we need to move past our previous wrong doings, knowing that we have been forgiven for all these things.
One reason I think that feelings of shame an inferiority are common among believers is that we're still trying to earn salvation. We're still trying to find our worth from our works. But, Isaiah 64:6 says that our "righteous acts are like filthy rags."
What's Our Worth?
Our salvation only comes from Christ and there is nothing we can do to be more worthy of that gift. We don't deserve that, but instead of living in continued fear and shame, we should glorify the Lord for the wonderful grace and mercy He has granted us.
Our purpose is likewise defined in the death of Christ. When we ask questions of ourselves such as, "Who am I and what have I done?" our only answer should be, "I'm a child of God and I've accepted God's free gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ."
Anything we do should bring glory to God. When we fail by the world's standards to accomplish great things, we must not take their criticism as a part of our identity. We must believe the words of the Bible that we are saved by Christ, which gives us worth beyond measure.
I don't write this all to discourage you from doing hard things or working for the Lord, but instead to show you the right foundation. We must depend on Christ alone to erase our shame and guilt and give us a purpose in our lives. The world will offer other solutions, but Jesus is our only one. We are God's creation, saved by Christ. Now, let us start living like we are!