Guilty No More!
by Rick Campione
Why it is important to fully understand the accomplishments of Christ at Calvary on our behalf?? Let me explain...
I was recently talking to a dear friend of mine about the embarrassment of past sins in our lives when the topic of guilt came into focus. I told him that whether or not he knew it, he had quoted the bible in his inward struggles! In Romans chapter 6, Paul talked of sin that believers would look back on with 'new eyes' and be embarrassed about. We read in verses 19 through 21 of that same chapter: I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. In this context, Webster defines guilt as:
feelings of culpability especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy
morbid self-reproach often manifest in marked preoccupation with the moral correctness of one's behavior
aggressive responses originating in inner guilt and uncertainty.
The bible tells us that we are indeed sinners but believers must remember that the completed work of Jesus Christ not only removed our sins, but our guilt as well! As a matter of fact, nowhere in Paul's letters do we read about guilt being an issue for a child of God. The only guilt mentioned in the gospel of the grace of God has to do with unbelievers. (in this context; ref. Rom. 3:19 - RICK)
You may ask then; "If what you are saying is true, how can I overcome my feelings of guilt?" Some of the most frequent answers you will hear may or may not bring rest in a believers heart when being pounded with real, overwhelming, feelings of guilt. These answers include:
We're all human and we're not perfect after all...
Just forget about it!
Don't be so negative....
Read the bible, you'll feel better....
While all of the above answers may have an element of truth in them, God has something for us that is much more complete! While we know through the definition above that guilt is "self-inflicted", Jesus Christ wouldn't approve of us "reading the bible" for superstition sake, or in order to avoid the perceived "wrath of God". Instead, God has made it clear in His word through what Paul received from Jesus Christ on this matter. It is here where reading the bible begins to form doctrine so that our lives take on new meaning and purpose according to the Master Architect!
One of the many great things about the message of grace is that nowhere in Paul's letters will you find him 'rubbing our noses' in past sin or its guilt.. The One who loved us enough to die for us while making His own righteousness available to us in the process, does not want us to labor but to live for Him! It is this distinct gospel that He gave Paul that describes our former state in unbelief so that we may understand the consequences of sin from a practical sense. But Paul describes our position in Jesus Christ to be unchanging despite ourselves and our failures! "But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." - Colossians 1: 22,23
The bible presents an interesting dichotomy of sorts in regards to man's sin on this very issue we are discussing. How can we grasp the magnitude and destructiveness of sin while understanding it no longer has a grip on us? While digesting and 'chewing the cud' on Christ's accomplishments on our behalf, we also will read and study the bible as it refers to literally thousands of examples of sin, its destructive trail and the lives it ruins. But Paul refers back to our sinful past only to remind us of the abundance of the riches of His grace and for that purpose alone! Yes, he rebukes Corinth, but it's his doctrine which speaks of reconciliation, peace with God and a joyful remembrance of the new creatures we have become in Christ Jesus. This "gospel of Christ" given only to Paul, speaks of God "tabernacling" in us as the 'new' temple. This "revelation of the mystery" encourages believers to renew our mind as part of our lives in order to think on things that edify us.
God wants His children to be thankful while expressing that thankfulness through love towards one another. It is the love of Christ that should constrain us to do just that!
It is the understanding of Christ's great love for us that will free us from our self-inflicted state of guilt. After all, if God the Father says we are reconciled to Jesus Christ and that we have taken on His very righteousness through faith, then where is the sin and its associated guilt??? In our minds.....
Secularism and other psychology will place the blame and guilt of sin on someone else including parents, relatives or maybe past romances. While horrific life events may shape us, we often give them the power to rule us. These teachings continue to present man blameless and guiltless for all the wrong reasons! The bible condemns us yes; for all have sinned and we continue to fall short of God's bar of perfection. But exclusively and only through Christ do we have the opportunity to have His perfection charged to us, His righteousness deposited into our account and His liberty to sustain us forever! It is this reconciliation, rightness and renewal that Paul had in mind when he said in 2 Corinthians 5:
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. 21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.