Luis Palau Association
Hope for Healing

20 May 2014

Hope for Healing

Posted in Articles, Spiritual Growth

In 1970, Katherine Ann Power waited in a nearby car to drive her associate, William Lefty Gilday, away from the bank he just robbed. Later, Power learned that during the robbery a Boston police officer was killed.

Never apprehended by the police, Power lived a seemingly normal life for 23 years: She worked, married, and had a son. But in 1993, haunted by the policeman's death, Power turned herself in to the authorities.

Steven Black, Power's lawyer, said, "[She] wanted to plead guilty, wanted to get her punishment and get it over with."

Power had a vision, Black said. Here I am. Yes, I did these things. I feel very badly, and I want to complete my penance. So Power served her sentence at the state prison in Massachusetts.

If you scratch under the surface, most people are desperately trying to hide a skeleton in some closet of their heart, hoping no one will ever find them out. At the advice of their psychiatrist, they deny their immorality. They explain away their abusive behavior. They repress their bitterness. They do anything but admit their sins. Ironically, until they make such an admission their closet full of guilt will continue to haunt them.

What skeletons are you hiding in your closet? Maybe you've struggled with homosexuality. Perhaps you had an abortion. Whatever you've done—mistreating someone you love, lying, having an affair—there is hope for healing.

Beyond Remorse

It's not enough, however, to regret our mistakes, to say I'm sorry and seek to justify our actions. Regretting the consequences of our actions belies the seriousness of our sin and our responsibility.

Nor will remorse for our sin get rid of our burden of guilt. According to the dictionary, remorse is a gnawing distress arising from a sense of guilt for past actions. And it will eat you alive. Just ask Judas, the man who befriended Jesus only to betray Him.

"Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people came to the decision to put Jesus to death. They bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate, the governor.

"When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. 'I have sinned,' he said, 'for I have betrayed innocent blood.'

"'What is that to us?" They replied. "That's your responsibility'" (Matthew 27:1-4).

Remorse seized Judas once more, rippling his soul with convulsions. The highest religious leaders of the land had just slammed the door on what seemed to be his only hope for atonement and healing.

"So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went and hanged himself" (Matthew 27:5).

Judas knew the seriousness of his crime. He admitted he had condemned the sinless Son of Man. But he fell one step short of what the Bible calls repentance.

Repentance is the biblical, correct response to sin. God's Word, the Bible, teaches that, first, we must admit our sins have separated us from God and, second, we must believe what Christ has done for us on the cross. Then, and only then, can we truly be healed.

The Bible says, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). That includes you and me. The Bible also says, "Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God" (1 Peter 3:18).

When Jesus died on the cross, He conquered death so that each of us may be forgiven and be healed.

Reveling in God's Mercy

"Once we properly deal with our sins, we are free to revel in God's mercy." Proverbs 28:13 explains that "He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy." Isaiah 55:6-7 adds this assurance: "Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon."

While we don't deserve God's mercy, of course, He offers us complete pardon anyway.

The story is told of a mother who once approached Napoleon seeking a pardon for her son. The emperor replied that the young man had committed a certain offense twice, and justice demanded death.

"But I don't ask for justice," the mother explained. "I plead for mercy."

"But your son does not deserve mercy," Napoleon replied.

"Sir," the woman cried, "it would not be mercy if he deserved it, and mercy is all I ask for."

"Well, then," the emperor said, "I will have mercy." And he spared the woman's son.

The beauty of Scripture is its good news that God freely and willingly bestows mercy on anyone who properly confesses their sins. We needn't fear finding God in an unforgiving mood.

Manasseh was one of the most wicked men to serve as king of Judah. He overturned Hezekiah's reforms and served false gods with more zeal than the nations God had originally destroyed before the Israelites (2 Chronicles 33:1-9). But after being captured by the Assyrians, Manasseh greatly humbled himself before the Lord and God forgave him! (2 Chronicles 33:11-13).

If God forgave such a wicked and pagan king as Manasseh, who humbled himself before the Lord, surely He will have mercy on us when we truly confess our sins and repent. The Apostle James tells us, "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up" (James 4:10). Elsewhere, God goes on to promise, "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more" (Hebrews 10:17).

How remarkable it is that the omniscient Lord of the universe promises not only to forgive our sins, but also to forget them forever! What a wonderful hope for healing.

Making Things Right with God and Others

How long have you kept that skeleton locked in some closet of your soul? Oh, you hope no one ever probes there. You hope no one ever finds a key and says, "Ah! There it is!"

I beg you to take that skeleton out of your closet. Confess your sins to God and to whomever you have offended. Experience God's merciful forgiveness and healing today.

Rudyard Kipling said it well: Nothing is ever settled until it is settled right.

Certain things may never be quite the same, but you can start walking with God. With total freedom and complete joy you will be able to look every man and woman in the eye. Why? Because you're forgiven. Clean. At peace with God and others.

Is the Lord speaking to your heart? Don't ignore what He's saying! Instead of burying our guilt feelings pretending they don't exist we need to seek, to know, and to experience God's forgiveness.

If you have not yet confessed your sins to God and accepted His forgiveness, do it today. Commit your life to Christ. God will forgive your sins and bring healing to your life. Just pray a simple prayer of faith, like this one:

Heavenly Father, I'm tired of the skeletons in my closet and want to find healing from the guilt that haunts me. I realize that my sins have separated me from You. Please forgive me. Wash away my sins forever through the work of Christ on the cross. Thank You for Your infinite mercy to forgive me even though I don't deserve it. Please come into my life, Lord Jesus. Amen.

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