What if I told you that you are not guilty? You say, “But you don’t know what I’ve done Pastor Brian.” Here’s the thing, I don’t care what you’ve done. If you are a believer in Jesus, it doesn’t matter. You aren’t guilty before God and you can’t ever be guilty before God! You may be thinking that sounds radical and different than what you’ve been taught. I totally get where you are coming from. It’s different than what I was taught growing up too, but when I began studying the word of God, I found out both the world and religion had lied to me. I found out I wasn’t guilty! And you aren’t guilty either!
According to the book of Hebrews 10:12-14, Jesus paid for all of our sins – past, present, and future. This means he also paid for all of the guilt and shame associated with our sins too. We are not guilty! I’ve made that statement a lot over the years, but have come to find out that while many people amen me, the totality of what I’m saying doesn’t register because they don’t see not guilty the same way God sees not guilty. One of the best pictures the Bible uses to illustrate how free we are is the story of the scapegoat. I want to share this story so it can paint a picture for you of how innocent you are before God. Look at these verses:
5 And he shall take from the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats as a sin offering, and one ram as a burnt offering. 6 “Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering, which is for himself, and make atonement for himself and for his house. 7 He shall take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 8 Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat. 9 And Aaron shall bring the goat on which the Lord’s lot fell, and offer it as a sin offering. 10 But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make atonement upon it, and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness.
This is an Old Testament picture of what Jesus did for us. On the day of atonement or Yom Kippur, two goats were brought before the high priest. The high priest cast lots to determine which would be the Lord’s goat. The Lord’s goat was sacrificed as a sin offering to the Lord. The Lord’s goat paid for the punishment of sin, while the other goat, the scapegoat, then carried away the sins of the people into the wilderness.
The New Testament amplifies this Old Testament picture in Matthew 27. Both Jesus and and a murderer named Barabbas were brought before the governor on the day of atonement. In keeping with tradition, one man was to be tried and the other was to be set free. The governor, Pontius Pilate, asked the people which man should be released. In unison they all said Barabbas should be released and they shouted to crucify Jesus! Jesus became the scapegoat for Barabbas. Jesus was punished in his place and also removed the guilt associated with his sin. Barabbas was set free!
We now live in the reality of the Old Testament picture of the scapegoat. He paid for the punishment of our sins and then carried them into the wilderness (or as far as the east is from the west). We have now been set free! We like Barabbas sinned against God, yet God tried Jesus in our place. Jesus was found guilty and we are not-guilty. This gets even more interesting when you read the prophetic utterance announced by the Jewish people in Matthew 27:25:
“His blood be on us and on our children.”
When the Jewish people made this statement they meant they were the ones responsible for having Jesus crucified. They didn’t realize they were also prophesying that any of them who would acknowledge Jesus as Lord would be covered by his blood. His blood would pay for the forgiveness of all of their sins – past, present, and future! His blood would declare them not-guilty!
If I stopped writing right now, we all have enough to celebrate for eternity, but I still haven’t gotten to the best part yet! Neither the children of Israel nor Barabbas had anything to do with their freedom! It wasn’t the scapegoat plus them being good that caused them to be set free. They were set free because of the scapegoat! All they had to do was believe what had been done for them and enjoy their freedom!
One of the biggest things that hinders people in fulfilling God’s will for their lives is not being able to properly deal with guilt and shame. The next time the feelings of guilt and shame come upon you, I want to encourage you to think about the story of the scapegoat. Remember, you get to go free because another was tried in your place! No matter what you have done, YOU ARE NOT GUILTY! Enjoy your freedom and go fulfill your destiny!