In Matthew 18:2, Jesus says this:

I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

But how do you do that?

How do you go back and recapture your innocence? How do you unsee everything wrong or immoral you’ve ever laid eyes on — everything you were never supposed to see but couldn’t avoid, everything you weren’t supposed to go looking for but did? How do you undo everything wrong your hands have ever done? How do you rebuild what your own hands have destroyed — trust, love, friendship, respect? How do you begin to recapture the angry or bitter words flung through the air at someone else?

It’s simple. You can’t.

You can’t unsee those sights and you can’t rebuilt what you destroyed and you can’t catch the words you said but later regretted. You just can’t. That time has long past. You had your chance not to do those things, but you chose to, whether in a moment of stress or boredom or anger, and things can never be the way they were again.

So how do you become innocent again?

Through the blood of the Savior. He has cleansed away each spot and stain, all the filth you’ve insisted on dragging yourself through — it all comes clean in His blood. He gave His life in the once-for-all, perfect sacrifice that makes up for everything you should have given God but never have. Now when you trust in Him, He gives you your innocence back. You are a new-born soul in Him, when you’re baptized — when you trust in His promises to you. Through faith in Him, you become holy, righteous, and pure in His sight — everything you could never be on your own in God’s sight, Jesus gives you.

All your sins were laid on the spotless Lamb of God, and He was horribly slaughtered and punished in your place. In the Old Testament, God commanded His people to perform a ritual that emphasized the removal of sin. Aaron the High Priest was to take two goats. One was to be slaughtered in the usual way; the other goat’s head Aaron laid his hands on and confessed all of Israel’s wickedness and rebellion over it. He placed all of Israel’s sins on that goat, and then the goat was released into the desert. (lev 16.20-22; heb 13.11-14) That’s how you get your innocence back: by the reality that is found in Christ Jesus that that picture conveyed. By faith, place your hand on the head of the scapegoat, resting it right above His eyes as He looks at you — then lift your hand away and watch as He is led out to be crucified in your place. As He goes outside the city, bearing the disgrace that was not His disgrace, but which He willingly assumed for your sake. That awful death, full of injustice and suffering, becomes the means by which your innocence — and that of the whole world — is restored. By faith in the Son of God, you are clothed in His righteousness; you are His child and a dearly loved heir of heaven. Believe it, and it’s true. It was for you. He died for you.

Jesus promises that Himself. His promises, centered in His life, death, rising, and reigning, are stronger than anything in heaven and earth — stronger than your sin, stronger than the consequences, stronger than your flesh, stronger than death itself.

You can be innocent again.

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (II cor 5.17)

“He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”” (rev 21.5)

(Thanks to the inmates at the Redwood County jail that I met with today who helped me to this insight.)