Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Guilt or Grace?

"how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" Hebrews 9:14

Guilt is a lousy motivator, don't you think? For most of my life I have been subject to my own "you should's," "you ought's" and even worse, "you didn't do this" or "you really screwed up there's." The funny thing about guilt is, it never helps me to do what is right. It only pounds me down, making me want to hide and shirk my responsibilities even more.

It is the same way with God's law. God never intended for us to live up to it. "How could that be?" someone might ask. In amongst all the "thou must's" and "thou shall not's" we forget that the law was given to us to show us that we could not keep it. Ever.

Romans 7:4-5 says: "Therefore, my brethren, you were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit for God. For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death."

If I read that right, it says that the Law arouses our sinful passions when we were in the flesh. But if we are in Christ, we don't have to listen the old letter that kills, but act from the totally new person we have been made to be through Christ. The new person is enabled by the grace of God, not the Law.

In II Corinthians 5:17, it says if any man is in Christ, he is a brand new creature. The word for new is kainos (Strong's #2537) meaning, in that usage: "all things are new, previously non-existent, begin to be far different from what they were before."

God does not motivate through guilt. For most of my life, I have listened to guilt motivations from myself and others, but guilt is not a good reason to go out and do something. It is like I am saying Christ hasn't quite paid enough and so I must do something good to try and make up for the bad things in the past that I have done. In that case I have not yet completely comprehended the finished work of Christ.

When He died, He died for all of my infractions: past, present and future. He knew in advance the mistakes I would make. Only when I forgive myself for them, and believe they were truly paid for, can I move out truly free, not trying to make up for them somehow.

Christ's blood was enough! I do not have to listen to the guilt manipulations of myself or of others. This whole world system works on a basis of merit, but God works on a basis of free, undeserved grace which we can never, ever repay. I can live my life knowing that I am the object of God's love, as great for me as it is for His Son, not because of anything I ever did or will do, but because of His magnificent grace.

When Jesus prayed for us, His beloved children, He stated that we are loved just as He is:

"I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and didst love them, even as Thou didst love Me.Father, I desire that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am, in order that they may behold my glory, which Thou hast given Me; for Thou didst love Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, although the world has not known Thee, yet I have known Thee; and these have known that Thou didst send Me; and I have made known Thy name to them, and will make it known; that the love wherewith Thou didst love Me may be in them, and I in them." John 17:23-26

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