Monday, April 16, 2012

Feeling Guilty for Feeling Guilty

There is something that I wanted to share with you guys, because I know this: I'm not the only one who wrestles with guilt. So I thought I would share how the Lord is continuing to teach me what He actually says about this. In the Christian world that we live in today, I'm certain that this is a word that you either hear or say on a daily basis. If you are ever around church, or are in a home group, or walk closely with other believers, then you probably hear/use this word regularly. I think we would all agree that the words we use regularly are extremely important, and may bear more weight than we can actually see. If you're familiar with a term called "Christianese", you know that this is a compilation of words that Christians use regularly to evoke emotion. Some of these words include "peace", "repent", "led", and even "worship." When asked about the definition of some of these words, we could probably give answers that appear to be accurate and profound by using the very language that I'm speaking of. These words are generally showered in emotion, and sound appropriate to both you, and the Christians you are speaking to. The only problem is this: we may not be sharing what the word actually means, but merely sharing what the word means to us. Sounds harmless though, right? After all, they're just words. I think the text would imply differently. James 3:6 says, "the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life." This passage also speaks of the tongue saying, "how great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire", and that it is "a restless evil, full of deadly poison." Obviously, the words that come out of our mouth have greater dangers than we may realize. I would probably say, as I'm sure most of you would, that there can be much harm done to many other people by the words that we choose, but what if the majority of the harm that is done, is actually done to ourselves?

I will give an example, which points back to the reason I am writing this. Let's choose the word "guilt." I know two things: I know that the words that I use can "set on fire the ENTIRE course of life"; and I know that I use the word "guilt' regularly. As I've looked over the way that I have used this word, I'm beginning to realize that the consistency in which I use it, coupled with the horrific misunderstanding of the word and its' implications to me, have played a significant role on the way that I feel about myself. I am always battling this feeling of guilt for my sin. But that's just it! I By saying to you that I struggle with a "feeling of guilt", I just demonstrated to you that my whole understanding of even the idea of guilt has been skewed, which also means that my whole understanding of the way I see myself has been skewed. You see, the very foundation of the word "guilt" is NOT an emotional term. There's no such thing as a "feeling of guilt". The word "guilt", in its' very nature is a judicial term...that's it. You're either guilty, or you're not. AND PRAISE CHRIST THAT WE ARE NOT GUILTY!!! So, when I feel guilty, the problem is NOT that I need to feel less guilty, but that I actually need to see and believe that I'm simply NOT GUILTY! Though I may feel guilty, the truth is this, that "He cancelled the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands...and nailed it to the cross!" (Colossians 2:14). He also "disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them." (Colossians 2:15).

Historically, I've only used the word "guilt" to describe the way I'm feeling. As I mentioned, my misuse of the word has ultimately played a part ("set on fire the entire course of my life") in the way that I see myself in Christ. I hear lots of other people say they feel guilty all the time...I say I feel guilty all the I must be guilty. I have just allowed my feelings to dictate my faith. One of my favorite books is "The Valley of Vision", and one of my favorite prayers from the puritans says this: "Lord, help me honor Thee, by believing before I feel; for great is the sin when I make feelings the cause of my faith." I think it's imperative for us to "gird our loins with TRUTH." (Ephesians 6:14). In a real, physical battle, our loins are most certainly our most vulnerable part. Therefore, we must be careful to pay much attention to the way that we feel, because the majority of the time, the things that we feel are simply not true. We must always pit those feelings up against the TRUTH of His Word. By doing this, we will gain much faith in His promises, and with this faith, we "can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one" (Ephesians 6: 16). We too often allow the feelings that we feel, mostly based around the words that we use, to establish themselves as true in our minds, without ever having grounds to do so. The truth is that we have been set free, we are not condemned, and we have been given sonship, no matter what the accuser says! I will leave you with a passage to meditate on, as this passage has been very influential to combat the way that I feel by replacing it with who God says that I am in Christ. Love y'all.

"Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord (most believe to be pre-incarnate Jesus), and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the Lord said to Satan, 'The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?' Now Joshua was standing before the angel (Jesus), CLOTHED WITH FILTHY GARMENTS. And the angel (Jesus) said to those who were standing before him, 'Remove the filthy garments from him.' And to him he said, 'Behold, I have taken your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments."

Zechariah 3:1-4

The truth is, we are NOT GUILTY! I guarantee Joshua was feeling pretty guilty with those filthy garments. But Jesus steps in and says, "but you're not." Praise Christ!!!