Freedom Series Part 2: Freedom From Guilt
I’m continuing the Freedom Series with this blog. Hope you have been enjoying it so far. We discussed recovering your sight in the series intro, being freed from greed in part 1 and this week I’ll be talking about freedom from guilt.
Guilt is one of the most powerful forces in the world and many preachers know this well. They know guilt can get you to do things. Why do you think you see so many pictures of kids starving in Africa? I’m not saying everybody that does that has an ulterior motive, but I’ve heard of marketing agencies who have a proven formula that involves pictures of starving kids in Africa.
The problem with guilt and condemnation is that it preaches good. It sounds idealistic when you say we should be doing more, giving more, etc. but that type of a message has no power to set people free. It only puts people under bondage to a system of works. Many people who listen to and preach this type of a message don’t understand the effects that it has. Either that or they feel that it’s normal to feel guilty…like that is the way it’s supposed to be.
Think about how people feel when they are around someone they owe money to. They don’t want to be around them and will try to avoid them at all costs. Why? Because they feel guilty and they don’t like feeling guilty. So if we are going to have a healthy relationship with God, guilt has to be removed. That is the only way we will want to hang out with God. God knows this and he wants to free us from that feeling of guilt.
The Effects Of Guilt & Condemnation
To drive this home some more, I’ll give a few examples. I’ve heard Arthur Meintjes say this before: Imagine you get on a plane and sit next to somebody who works for the IRS. You see him going through some files and happen to see your name on them. You ask him what he plans on doing with those files and he says well we’re getting ready to audit this person. You talk him a bit more about what that involves and then at the end of flight he smiles and says, have a nice day buddy. How do you think you would feel knowing that you are going to get audited by the IRS? This comes from knowing that they are going to scrutinize every single thing you have done financially for the past few years. Even if you haven’t been doing anything bad, maybe you made a mistake on your taxes somewhere or perhaps you lost some of your receipts to prove your payments. This is the way many people feel in their relationship with God. They think he is securitizing their every move, just waiting for them to make a mistake and then strike them down. It’s no wonder they don’t want to hang out with God.
In my own personal experience, I used to play a lot of sports growing up. Once we got into high school we were able to get jobs and have some money. Well, some of the guys wanted to make our games more interesting with the money they now had and placed some bets on our games. I was pretty good at basketball so sometimes kids would ask me to be on their team or just challenge me to a game because they wanted a piece of me. Sometimes things would get out of hand quickly when playing games for double or nothing and they wouldn’t have the money to pay. One time this happened with a friend that I grew up on the same block with. I told him to just pay me whenever he could. I liked him a lot and hung out with him all the time. When the next weekend rolled around, I went over to his house as I usually did, but he was gone. I called the next day and he was nowhere to be found. I started to put two and two together. He didn’t want to be around me because he felt guilty that he didn’t have the money he owed me. The only way our relationship was restored was when I finally able to talk with him at school and forgive the debt he owed me. See how guilt causes separation and ruins relationships?Guilt causes separation & ruins relationships. It has to be removed for fellowship to occur (See Jesus). Click To Tweet
Why Guilt Comes
Guilt is so common among us that many times we may not even realize where it’s coming from and/or that there is a solution. We are so used to thinking that we are not good enough or not doing enough that it becomes normal. The solution that the self-righteous come with is for us to just not do anything wrong. That is self-reliance and also denial as the Bible states that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). We all have to deal with this feeling of guilt. Even if you’re able to have a long period of time where you don’t feel guilt from doing wrong, the devil will still try to come and tell you that you’re not doing enough.
What Paul Said About Righteousness
Remember what Paul said about righteousness in Philippians:
If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.
7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. Philippians 3:4-9 NIV
So we see here that this right standing before God doesn’t come from our own good deeds. Our standing with God is fixed through faith in Jesus and it’s already the highest it could possibly be. You can’t earn any more right standing than we have in Jesus. The end result of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus should be the removal of guilt which gives us the ability to come before His throne of grace boldly, facilitating a healthy relationship with God. This can’t happen if we are sin conscious, but it can if we are Jesus conscious, which is the way God wants us to be.
Those who think that grace preachers condone a sinful lifestyle don’t understand the concept of how right believing leads to right doing. They think they have to focus on the doing, but that results in guilt and separation of God. Jesus said in John 15 that we can do nothing apart from him. So how are people supposed to do right when they are separated from the very thing that enables them to do it?Focusing on doing results in guilt & separation. Believing leads to doing & should be the emphasis. Click To Tweet
How God Brings Union With Us
So in order to stop the separation between us and God, He needs to remove the guilt in our relationship with Him. Contrary to what many believe, God is not part of the problem in regard to our guilt. He’s not mad at us. Jesus didn’t come to help God with His anger problem, so that He could finally be happy with us again. God is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8). Our sin never changed God’s thought about us. We can see that after Adam and Eve sinned that God came to clothe them shortly thereafter (Gen. 3:21). So if God is not causing this feeling of guilt then what is?
The reason we feel this guilt is because of our own beliefs. It’s either ignorance from not knowing what God thinks of us or pride when we exalt our opinions above God’s. Again, we think God is mad at us for whatever reason when He’s really not. In order to prove this God sent Jesus to show us what He thinks of us. Unfortunately, many see the cross as a God’s wrath being poured out on man, when really it’s the greatest expression of His love.
Cindy Quarles made some great points and quoted some really good scriptures that talk about how God brings union with us in her guest blog post a few weeks ago:
“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.” Romans 6: 5-10
Do you see how Christ’s full identification with us in life, death and resurrection allows you and I to fully identify with him in it all, experiencing all that He is, in the here and now?
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. Eph. 2: 4 – 6
Identification and union are a far cry from substitution. Jesus was our substitute only in the sense that He did for us what we could not do for ourselves. To say that he experienced anything “instead” of us, and not “as” us, eliminates completely the power in identification and union.
Jesus did not suffer and die as our substitute. He died, resurrected and ascended as us!
So there was justice at the cross but it wasn’t retributive it was restorative. God saw what was killing us and what was separating us from Him and He went about removing it. He showed us in Jesus at the cross what the result of our sin is (death) but that even sin can’t separate us from Him. Again, in John 15 Jesus talks about abiding in Him and says that apart from Him we can nothing. For us to have life we need to be unified with Him. The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus helps us see ourselves the way God has always seen us, thus removing our guilt and bringing us back into union with Him.
This is why it’s so good for us to have communion regularly. The word communion is from the Greek word koinonia (Strong’s #2842) and has the idea of partnership. Other words which give the same meaning are associate, sharer, and fellowship. When we partake of communion, it reminds us of the common union, partnership and fellowship that we have with God.
The Acceptable Year Of The Lord
Remember the verse I started this series out with? Jesus reads from Isaiah 61 and says:
18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. Luke 4:18-19 KJV
Notice what the last verse says…the ACCEPTABLE year of the Lord. Maybe if we preached the acceptable year of the Lord instead of guilt and condemnation we would see some different results.
Here’s one more verse to leave you with:
For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more. Hebrews 8:12 NIV
If you think your sin separates you from God, understand He doesn’t even remember it. You may keep thinking about it and talking about it but God doesn’t want to talk about it anymore. You may bring it up, but God is saying what sin? Let Him wash you clean with the Word He has spoken about you in Jesus. He has removed your sin as far as the East is from the West (Psalm 103:12). It’s not an issue. Move on.
I know this can be some heavy stuff to take in all at once, even for those who have been Christians for a while. Just know that no matter what you have done, God wants you to be confident that you can come to Him. He will deal with whatever it is that needs to be dealt with but without you being able to come Him you won’t be able to deal with it. Talk to Him about it and let Him persuade your heart of your innocence before Him. It will free you from guilt and allow you to enjoy your relationship with God. Thanks for stopping by. Blessings.