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There it was again, creeping along the shadowed walls of my mind—a past sin that hissed, “Who do you think you are?” I closed my eyes and whispered, “I’m a child of God, forgiven and redeemed, no longer chained to you.” And as quickly as my past had come, it scurried out of my consciousness.

Why is it so difficult for us to let go of past sins? Shame and regret are two of Satan’s most effective weapons against God’s children. And it’s oh so easy for us to use our past as an excuse for not moving forward in our faith and service.

But to doubt the freedom from our past, which Christ’s work on the cross accomplished, is to doubt the character of God. It cheapens the grace He lavishes on us, snubs the fellowship He offers to us and discards the power over sin and self He provides.

Horatius Bonar was a nineteenth-century Scottish pastor and hymn writer. According to one biographer, Bonar was the principal hymn writer of Scotland and composed over 600 hymns, including “I Lay My Sins on Jesus.” The first stanza gives the solution to guilt:

I lay my sins on Jesus, the spotless Lamb of God;
He bears them all, and frees us from the accursèd load;
I bring my guilt to Jesus, to wash my crimson stains
White in His blood most precious, till not a stain, remains.[i]

The phrase “wash my crimson stains … till not a stain remains” echoes the prophet Isaiah’s words: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” (1:18).

Bonar also wrote books. In God’s Way of Peace: A Book for the Anxious, he said, “The Bible does not say ‘Being satisfied about our faith, we have peace with God,’ but ‘Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.’ Satisfaction with Jesus and his work, not satisfaction with your own faith is what God expects of you.” Just a few pages later, he added, “Satisfaction with yourself, even if you could get it, would do nothing for you. Satisfaction with Christ would do everything; for Christ is all.”[ii]

Guilt about past sins enslaves us because we don’t fully embrace the completeness of our redemption. “Christ has set us free. … So take your stand! Never again let anyone [including yourself] put a harness of slavery on you” (Galatians 5:1 MSG).


Do past sins haunt you? Chain you? Do you want to be freed from their power? If you have accepted the gift of salvation, Jesus has already unlocked the prison door of your past. Swing it open and walk out. Don’t look back.

Next Step: Many Bible scholars believe the Bible contains four psalms David wrote after his sin with Bathsheba. If you read them in the following sequence, you can trace his journey from a chasm of guilt to a pinnacle of joy: Psalms 38, 6, 51, and 32. Take that journey this week.

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[i] To read all of the lyrics to “I Lay My Sins on Jesus,” go to

[ii] Download a free copy of this book at

Denise Loock

Author Denise Loock

Denise Loock is the author of two devotional books that highlight the scriptural truths of classic hymns and gospel songs, Open Your Hymnal and Open Your Hymnal Again. She is the founder of Dig Deeper Devotions, a website that encourages Christians of all ages to dig deeper into the Word of God. She also speaks at conference centers, luncheons, and retreats.

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