Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Guilt & Forgiveness

I've been struggling lately with the idea of feeling guilty and realizing true forgiveness.

There's some great articles here:


"...The Apostle Paul sympathizes. “I do not understand what I do,” he writes, “For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15, TNIV). Paul experienced the guilt pangs of doing and not doing that wrench our own guts. He knew conscience could be more burden than blessing. But Paul also gives us hope. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1-2, TNIV). My sins are forgiven. My guilt is taken away. If Christ doesn’t condemn me, then why do I condemn myself?

Guilt usually comes from the impossible standards to which we hold ourselves. Everyone knows that legalism ruins churches, but we often willingly force ourselves to drink a homebrewed brand of spiritual slavery. Society measures our worth based on productivity, so we set goals and measure our self-esteem by successes. In our outcome based spirituality, if we miss the mark, we beat ourselves up. I’m not saying we should tolerate sin, but I believe we need to forgive ourselves for missing our own expectations. God forgives us for not meeting his expectations.

As human beings, we can’t do anything to improve our standing before God. That would be trying to save ourselves by works. Jesus criticized this attitude: “They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men” (Matthew 15:9, TNIV). God’s grace isn’t about making life difficult for us. God’s grace forgives our failures to measure up, because Christ measured up for us.

Here’s what my pastor says every Sunday after we confess our sins: “Almighty God in his mercy has given his Son to die for you, and for his sake forgives you all your sins.” Amen! And with these words, the things left undone are forgiven. The guilt is taken away. You don’t have to keep living your life as an apology. Christ forgives you for not meeting his standards, and he’ll forgive you for not meeting your own standards. The things left undone aren’t going to ruin your relationship with God.

When you feel guilty about the things you haven’t finished, be assured that at the cross Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30)."


"...God even uses sin for His glory. Where sin is, grace abounds (Romans 5:20; 2 Corinthians 9:8). I’m not telling you to go sin so that God can glorify Himself through you (Romans 3:7-8). Look up "antinomianism" in your dictionary of theological terms before you try that one. But I am telling you that God is bigger than our sin. That’s the main plot of the Bible—taking what Adam and Eve and everyone after them did wrong and making it right.

I don’t understand why God chooses to use even our sin to glorify Himself. But think about it. Is there anything He can’t use to glorify Himself? I don’t understand how He takes our worst, bypasses good and better, and fashions it into His best. That’s the definition of redemption, and that’s what makes Him God. We cannot screw up God’s plan. Read the end of the Book. His kingdom is bigger than our “royally.”"


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