Forgiveness: How do I get over feeling guilty?

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Forgiveness: How do I get over feeling guilty?

Post by Admin on Tue Jan 26, 2016 12:52 am

God’s word has provided some wonderful answers to our struggles with guilt, verses that let us know beyond a shadow of a doubt just how forgiven we are. David, a man who knew a thing or two both about great sin and God’s greater forgiveness, wrote this: [H]e (God) does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us—David, Psalm 103:10-12. What’s wonderful about that imagery is this: I can keep walking north on our planet and, eventually, I reach a point where I am no longer walking north but am walking south; north ends and south begins (and likewise south to north). I can NEVER reach a point walking east where I am no longer walking east but instead walking west. The idea is that God removes our transgressions infinitely far away from us . . . and, as this verse from Isaiah points out, from Himself as well: I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more—God speaking, Isaiah 43:25, a sentiment that God echoed through the prophet Jeremiah: For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more—God speaking, Jeremiah 31:34b. God continues to announce this theme through the prophet Ezekiel as well: But if a wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed and keep all my decrees and do what is just and right, he will surely live; he will not die. None of the offenses he has committed will be remembered against him. Because of the righteous things he has done, he will live. Do I take pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?—God speaking, Ezekiel 18:21-23. Ezekiel really sets the stage for the redemptive work of Christ that we know in the New Testament. Jesus lived the perfect life that we could never live, meeting all of God’s standards of holiness in every respect, and then took all our sins with Him on the cross. To quote from Isaiah, [A]ll our righteous acts are like filthy rags—Isaiah 64:6a. As we were, we couldn’t keep all God’s decrees and do what is just and right, but Jesus did. Essentially, we couldn’t please God in ourselves so, by substitution, Jesus pleased God for us. In other words, He substituted His life for ours, just as He substituted His punishment for ours. When we surrender to Christ, His perfection, and that substitutionary death, is claimed for us. As Paul said so well, God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God—Paul, II Corinthians 5:21. So now, instead of seeing us in our sin, God sees us, as Paul so wonderfully said it: You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ—Paul, Galatians 3:26-27. [DO THE FINGER DRILL.] So what has happened as a result of surrender to Christ? First, God has declared us “not guilty.” Our sins have been forgiven. God’s declaration in theological terms is justification; it is a legal term that means we have received a declaration of “not guilty” because, through Christ, no guilt is any longer found in us. It is one of the great themes of the New Testament. As Paul declares so triumphantly, Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God—Paul, Romans 5:1-2. We have peace BECAUSE we have been declared by God, “Not guilty!” And because of the complete work of salvation that Christ’s death has performed in us, and because God has recognized that work as having been accomplished in our lives, as Paul went on to say in Romans, Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit—Paul, Romans 8:1-4. And, in our ongoing life, we can know, as the apostle John wrote, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness—I John 1:9. The “he” John refers to is God. We can know forgiveness and purification from all unrighteousness because God is the one doing the forgiving and purifying. Because it is God’s work, we can know it is done—complete and finished! As Paul said, [C]ount yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus—Paul, Romans 6:11.
So, where does the guilt come from? Who else—Satan. We need to understand our relationship with God sort of like a marriage relationship. If I “sin” against my wife—anger outburst, don’t do something she was counting on, whatever—because that relationship is based on love, I want to make things right again. Now, because I love her, it bothers me that I have done something to impact our relationship. And, because I love her, I ask her forgiveness because I always desire the relationship to be the best it can be. Love drives that. But, even in the middle of my screw-up, I am still married to her; I am still in the relationship. It is my love for her, which has continued to grow over the years, that drives me to seek the reconciliation to restore our relationship to being the best it can be. Now when it comes to God, it is good that my mistakes bother me. I want them to bother me because I want my relationship with God to be the best it can be. As I continue to grow into His Son’s image by the ongoing, sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, it will bother me more and more when I do something displeasing to Him. Like with my wife, love drives that. Christianity is not a religion; it is a relationship. It is a love story. Satan is not about love; he is about destroying. He wants to ruin my relationship with God. Once come to Christ, I will always be in Christ (my relationship is held by His strength and work, not my own), so he can’t touch that. As Christ said when talking about the sheep to which He was their shepherd, I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand—Jesus Christ, John 10:28. What Satan can do is make me think all of what salvation has done is not really true—that I still am wrong, that I am still a screw-up, that God might not always love me, or might not always forgive me, especially when I do such-and-such, especially when I do such-and-such over and over again. He accuses me. Two ways the Bible describes Satan: (1) as a liar: He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies—Jesus Christ, John 8:44b, and (2) as a false accuser: The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony—Revelation 12:9-11a.
Pastor and author James MacDonald has said it this way in commenting on Romans 6:11: When Paul wrote Romans 6:11 under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he did not say sin is weakened in us. Nor did he say we’re distanced from it or that we’ve grown cold toward it. He said we’re dead to it! . . . [T]his verse is the absolute centerpiece of Christian victory in the whole of the New Testament. More and faster transformation can happen in your heart when you are willing to take this verse seriously than through any other verse in the entire Bible. The incredible, transforming power here is that the potency of sin is broken in your life. Now you have a choice. Before you were in Christ you had no choice; you were a slave to sin. In Christ, you may still choose to be a slave, but you don’t have to be. You can choose to do what is pleasing to the Lord. Say it out loud by faith: “Sin does not have power over me! I am in Christ and I am dead to the power of sin.” I know what you might be thinking. If I’m dead to sin, why do I feel so alive to it? Dead is the last word most of us would use to describe our experience with sin. Forgiven, maybe. Or cleansed—even changing. But dead? First consider what dead to sin does not mean. It doesn’t mean sinless perfection or that our old nature is gone. And it doesn’t mean we’ve merely identified theoretically with the death of Christ. It means that because Christ died in our place, we are dead to the power of sin. It’s as if we used to live in an apartment with an awful landlord who would burst in whenever he wanted, but now we’ve moved to a new apartment with a new landlord. We have new locks; we owe the former landlord nothing. He can’t get into our new apartment unless we open the door and invite him in. Unfortunately, some Christians still open that door and listen to the old landlord. But he’s no longer in control. In Christ, the power of sin is broken and defeated. Sin is not in charge. You have a new Master. For life change to happen, you must apply the power of your identification with Christ at the specific point of temptation. In that moment, you must exercise your faith and consider yourself dead to sin by believing it in your heart and speaking it out. Whether you feel dead to it or not doesn’t matter. If you exercise your faith, you will experienced victory. Believe in your heart and confess with your mouth, “I’m dead to that.” Your behavior, speech, attitudes—whatever you are working on—will be increasingly changed. God is not content to simply forgive you. He wants to change you! The day you came to Christ the power of sin was broken in your life!

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