Do Protestants Have the "Fullness of the Faith"?
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Do Protestants Have the "Fullness of the Faith"?

FAQ: Jesus Took Away Our Legal Guilt, But What about Our Guilty Feelings?

Do you sometimes still feel guilty even after you’ve repented of your sin? Do you struggle to rest in the forgiveness God offers you through Jesus Christ?

Probably most of us would say, “Yes, I’ve been there.” It’s a struggle. We seek to honor the Lord, and yet every day—in thought, word and deed—we sin against him. We confess those sins and receive his forgiveness, but it’s easy even after that to feel guilt and a sense of condemnation.

Sometimes we can beat ourselves up, right? Sometimes, we’d rather atone for our sins than trust in Christ’s atonement. We want do penance for a period of time.

But of course, over and over again, the Scriptures remind us that the throne of God’s grace is open for us. We can boldly approach God in prayer to get the grace and help that we need. It’s not because of how faithful we are. It’s not because we don’t sin. It’s because we have a great high priest, a great advocate—Jesus Christ, the righteous one.

Resting in God’s mercy and forgiveness looks—first and foremost—like fixing our eyes on Christ. His blood is more powerful than our sins. It’s easy when we’re navel-gazing to think, “Well, I failed again. I’ve messed up again,” and embrace the self-pity thing or want to do some kind of penance. Well, God doesn’t want you to do that. God wants you to fix your eyes on his Son, Jesus (Heb. 12:1–2).

Now, of course, there’s the genuine conviction of the Holy Spirit that we feel when we sin. But that’s meant to draw us to the Lord in repentance and not to give us a sense of condemnation. The apostle Paul says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). Why? Because we’ve been justified by faith. But we can experience the conviction of the Holy Spirit, especially when we haven’t confessed our sins.

In Psalm 32:1–5, King David says,

“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.”

Meditate on Psalm 32. Meditate on Psalm 38. Meditate on Psalm 51. All of these Psalms have to do with repentance and forgiveness. You can identify with the psalmist, who feels weighed down by his sins as if the hand of God is heavy upon him. But then he confessed his sin and found forgiveness.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

(1 John 1:9)

So you have that promise. Fix your eyes on Jesus as you cling to that promise and rest in the forgiveness God gives you through Christ.

This article is part of our Frequently Asked Questions series. Listen to Pastor Adriel answer this question on Core Radio here.

Dig deeper with these free resources from Core Christianity:

Core QUESTIONS

These clear and concise PDFs answer some of your toughest questions about the Christian faith:
Why Do You Talk About the Difference Between Law and Gospel?, How Do Christians Relate to the Law?, Can I Lose My Salvation?, Have I Committed the Unpardonable Sin?

Core GUIDES

Dive deeper with these lengthier and more thorough guides to difficult topics in the Christian life: 7 Things Everyone Needs to Know about Repentance, 10 Ways God Reveals Himself as our Father

Photo of Adriel Sanchez
Adriel Sanchez

Adriel Sanchez is pastor of North Park Presbyterian Church, a congregation in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). In addition to his pastoral responsibilities, he also serves the broader church as a host on the Core Christianity radio program, a live, daily call-in talk show where he answers listeners' questions about the Bible and the Christian faith. He and his wife Ysabel live in San Diego with their five children.