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Former officer Kimberly Potter shot and killed Daunte Wright. There is no doubt or question about that. Everyone in the courtroom knows it. Ms. Potter knows it. This is true not just because the officers who were with her at the scene testified to it, it is true because all the police officers who were involved had body-worn cameras that show clear evidence of it. All of it, second my second.

I began to wonder how a person would deal with the memory of an event like this after he or she had become a Christian. At this point, we Christians are likely to throw in and say, “You’d be forgiven, of course! All of our sins are washed away in the blood of Jesus.”

True, true. This is the gospel.

“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).1 

I also wondered about other people, mostly men, who have raped children, and sexually abused little ones, including, impossible to imagine and shouldn’t be, babies. What should they do?

 Of course, believe the same gospel truth.

Our sins are totally removed, no matter how heinous they are.

“I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25).

The Lord, in His great love and mercy, forgives and forgets everything. All sins washed away. We are now, difficult  to comprehend, as righteous as He is. He has done His part completely.

But what about us? Can we forget? I know it’s popular to say, “You gotta forgive yourself.” But I’m not sure what that even means, to be honest. How does one forgive oneself?

I saw Kim Potter in the witness chair when both the defense and prosecution brought up the shooting of Daunte Wright. In both cases, the former officer wept. She may have asked God to forgive her for that accidental shooting, but it’s clear the guilt remains. And I think it will remain and linger, although the strength of that guilt will gradually diminish over time.

Even David, the poet king, was troubled about the terrible sins he had committed—adultery with Bathsheba and the arranged murder of her husband.

“Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:2–3).

In my pre-Christian life, I committed sins of which I am ashamed. Thankfully, none of them were the sins addressed above. From time to time, one of these sins pops into my mind with shame attached to it. I know that Christians will say, “Reject it.” Well, of course. I believe I am forgiven. But there’s still that brief feeling of shame. They may also say, “Rebuke the devil. He’s the one that planted that thought there.” Well, I’m glad you know the source of that thought, but I don’t. Okay, perhaps it was the devil. Now what? Regardless, I find relief simply by asking the Lord to forgive me, knowing that He already has, which sounds silly, I guess. But I just want Him to know I realize how bad my sin was. How I respond to that thought actually increases my thankfulness for His forgiveness and my salvation. So, perhaps He’s the one who brought it to mind.

So, what would I do if I had committed one of the awful sins I wrote about earlier? I think the shame attached to that would be so much greater by several orders of magnitude than what I did that it would bring me to my knees.  So, I wouldn’t say, “Reject it,” or “Rebuke the devil,” but, “Hit your knees.”

And that’s okay. It’s okay to be brought to our knees.

To the ones who feel dominated by the guilt and shame of previous sins, I would encourage such a one to deal with it with the Lord in sincere prayer. The lingering shame may last a lifetime. Go ahead and pour your heart out. Just you and Him. God will meet you there.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

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