For those of us who didn't know her prior, she is an amazing, powerful woman of God who struggled with heroin addiction for years and the only thing that broke her away from her sin and her addiction was coming to know the Lord as her Saviour in a Christ-centred drug rehabilitation place in Esperance, WA.
She shared her incredible testimony and journey of redemption, hope, grace, and forgiveness. In between being a busy mother to three young children, together with her husband who is a pastor, she spends her time building safer communities and stronger families, providing support to families struggling with drug addiction, and presenting drug prevention programs in schools, the community as well as intervention seminars. She also visits the women's prison, bringing hope to women in jail through her love for Christ. Her dream is to see a nation drug free and to see young Australians take a stand against drugs, crime and violence.
The entire day of the conference, I had nothing short but overwhelming senses of emotion come over me. I was not only refreshed and renewed in my love for Christ, but my own sins that I have struggled to come up front with, started to plague my mind. I watched how confident she was in sharing her testimony and making it her story, one that no one could take her down with or judge her with. It was full of passion, vigour and had one simple goal: to get the message of Jesus out. She shared pictures of how she looked "high" on heroin, and shared stories of how she ended up being with an abusive drug-addicted partner during her heroin days and how she messed up her family, even influencing her one and only sister to also turn to heroin.
My own Sin
I felt amazed and enthralled by God and what Christ can do for us if we are truly repentant and God's amazing grace and redemption, but at the same time, I couldn't stop wondering to myself: "Is there a sin too terrible for God to forgive?"
The reason why I kept asking myself that, is for four years since I became a Christian, I struggled with my past sin, the mistakes I made when I was a teenager, way before I met Christ. I have shared my story to maybe 1 or 2 people and have always felt that the mistakes I did in my past was too big for God to forgive. I thought to myself, "How could God ever forgive me for what I have done?"
But on that day itself, on this particular women's conference, I truly saw right there and then what it meant to be free of your sin, and to be redeemed. Jade Lewis was 1) unashamed of her story, 2) accepted her mistakes and sins, 3) brought her mistakes and sin to God and 4) experienced the full extent of grace and redemption of forgiveness and freedom of sin. I saw that I never once did all the four steps above.
That is why I never could forgive myself, because God hasn't forgiven me yet, since I have always been ashamed of my past, I have never accepted my mistakes and most importantly, I have never truly confessed my sin to God and asked God for forgiveness.
God's Forgiveness of Sin
In 1 John chapter 1, verse 9: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from ALL righteousness." God also said in Titus chapter 2, verse 14: "Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from EVERY lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds." And lastly in Isaiah chapter 1, verse 18: "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
There is therefore NO sin too big or too terrible for God to forgive. The magnitude of our sin isn't what determines God's forgiveness. This is all due to God's grace and how big that grace is, that in human terms, I see my sin as too big to forgive but in Gods' terms, there is His grace, which is big enough to extend to ANYONE who is ready to confess, repent and ask God for forgiveness. This applies to even the worst of us; rapists, murderers, child molesters, and prostitutes.
God's Redeeming Power and Grace
But this is the exact reason why I feel the Christian faith is so different from other beliefs. We have a God who forgives us no matter what we do, and no matter how little we deserve to be forgiven. We do not need to "redeem" ourselves through good works and animal offerings, for God gave His one and only begotten Son to save us all from the grip of sin and the weight of guilt sin has over us.
He has made us all white as snow and with the power of God's forgiveness; we are all made one with Christ, a new creation in Him. This is a paradox, because even though this is the Good News and the Gospel and the Truth, people struggle with the concept because they feel underserving of God's forgiveness and thus sadly do not really accept what God can do in their lives. But in Christ, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. (Ephesians chapter 1, verse 7).
I am a New Creation – Forget my Past and my Sins
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit – Romans chapter 8 verse 1. Jesus did not come here to condemn me, but to save me! As a child of God, I am a new creation, my past has been wiped away and I have a fresh start. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things have become new." - 2 Corinthians chapter 5, verse 17. Not only does God forgive us, He forgets our sins! "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more" - Hebrews chapter 10, verse 17.
Hence, on that faithful day of 7 September 2013, I finally accepted the truth in my heart. That despite of all I have done, the mistakes and terrible sins I have committed, I gave my heart up to Christ once again, fully accepting my sin but instead of internally absorbing it and letting the guilt and unworthiness have a hold on me, I gave it up to our Lord and He took it away from me. I walked up on stage that day, in front of 80 women and told them my sin, the very sin that kept me from truly turning to God for over ten years.
I felt this immense weight being lifted off me and that very day, I felt God come into my heart and forgive me for everything. I am now a brand new creation; a new work of Christ and I now have a deeper sense of new found understanding of God, His grace, forgiveness and redemption. May God use me now for His own glory and purpose.
And now my statement in my life is that of Luke chapter 7, verse 47: "Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgivenâ€"as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little." In other words, those who have been forgiven much, loves much.
Clarissa Yates is from Singapore but moved to live in Perth, Western Australia in 2008. Clarissa completed a BSc. in Molecular Biology at the University of Western Australia and is now working as a Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Western Australia, where she is part of a research team studying therapies for lung cancer.
Clarissa Yates previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/clarissa-yates.html