Written by Pastor Jim Law
In the last couple of posts I have taken opportunity to address my FBCG family with some reflections on our recent Life Action Summit. This event in the life of our church will no doubt be an important marker in our journey as a Body. My focus in these short deposits has been to identify the battle we face with our flesh and with the strategies of the evil one. These posts are offered as pastoral reminders of the importance of pressing on in obedience in the Christian life, and especially in specific areas that have come to us in the recent Summit. How often Jesus spoke in simple terms on our need to follow Him, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46)
In this final post-Summit article, I want to focus on the issue of guilt and how that can hamstring faithfulness to Christ. When we face setbacks and challenges in our lives, we can harbor guilt as our struggles remind us of failures that drag stubbornly. We don’t even meet our own expectations, let alone God’s. In this recent season of refreshing, the struggle with sin in our lives can bring guilt and condemnation. These struggles can breed a hopelessness which is a fiery missile from the evil one to derail us off mission.
For such evil strategies, when Satan seems to put his slimy boot on our throats, we find hope in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In Romans 8, Paul begins this “Mount Everest” text with lifegiving hope for believers battling with guilt, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1). This promise should be employed by every believer as a “grace ambulance” when we battle the issues of heart and life. With simple confession, and the grace Christ supplies, we are called to begin again.
The work of an unknown poet captures this truth well. The scene is an elementary classroom, and it is called, “Beginning Anew”:
He came to my desk with a quivering lip
The lesson was done, “Have you a new sheet for me teacher
I have spoiled this one.”
I took his sheet all soiled and blotted, and gave him a new one all unspotted,
And into his tired heart cried, “Do better now my child.”
I went to the throne with a trembling heart,
The day was done, “Have you a new day for me dear Master
I have spoiled this one?”
He took my day all soiled and blotted, and gave me a new one all unspotted,
And into my tired heart cried, “Do better now my child.”
Ray Ortlund speaks of God’s gracious treatment of His children, “God (speaks) to us as his beloved ones, his adopted children. He was not stuck with us. He chose us, because he loves us, and now he is coaching us in how we can be fully alive, for his glory.” (Ortlund, R. C., Jr. (2012). Preaching the Word: Proverbs—Wisdom that Works. (R. K. Hughes, Ed.) (p. 59). Wheaton, IL: Crossway.)
Far from condemnation, believers in Jesus Christ are meant to experience God’s grace day-by-day and with each passing moment. So, when condemnation rears its ugly head, and blurts into your mind, “You are suffering so much right now because you are under condemnation. God is against you. Just look at your life!” Our response is Romans 8:1, “No, no I’m not under condemnation. Because Christ is my righteousness and has redeemed my life from destruction, I am no longer under condemnation having passed from death to life. I am promised that if God is for me, then who can be against me?” (Romans 8:31)
When Satan whispers, “The reason your family, your marriage is in chaos is because you’re a loser and incapable of loving and forgiving and maintaining healthy relationships. What a hypocrite you are!” In such moments we are to preach to ourselves and say, “No, my God and Father has given to me a future and a hope, and He has pledged to conform me into the image of Christ. He is still working on me, and while my circumstances are excruciating I will press on in hope that God will work wonders of grace in my life.”
As we run this race together, as we persevere and celebrate, may we look unto Jesus Christ who endured the cross and the shame that came with it, so that we could sing, “No guilt in life, no fear in death—This is the pow’r of Christ in me;” Yes my friends, this will take us home.