The first and arguably the most important facet of God’s guarding care is that we’re protected by Christ’s righteousness at all times. We’re clothed in it. We’re completely covered by it. Because of this declared righteousness, we move from condemned to confident before God. Christ’s righteousness applied to us makes us acceptable to God at all times. We gain access to everything we need—every spiritual blessing—from God because we’ve received forgiveness of sin and can approach the throne of grace with confidence (Heb. 4:16).

As I look back on my journey as a Christian, I wonder why it took me so long to feel confident in my relationship with God. I battled feelings of condemnation for years.

There was a point in my life when, if you asked me what came into my mind when I thought about God, I would have used two words: Distant. Disappointed. I believed God was distant because of all my sin. I understood the gospel—I was saved through God’s gracious gift of salvation that I received through faith alone—but I still felt like my good behavior determined how God thought about me. I didn’t have confidence in my relationship with God.

I grappled with the question of my guilt over sin and whether or not God was pleased with me. I often felt like a Christian failure and would then try harder to please God. It was a toxic mindset of trying to work my way out of condemnation.

Heather Holleman is the author of Guarded by Christ. She is a speaker, writer, and faculty member of Penn State's English Department. Adapted from Guarded by Christ: Knowing the God Who Rescues and Keeps Us by Heather Holleman © 2016. Used by permission.