There was another Gospel Game Changer we talked about at our Thursday night gathering of the church.
When we are in Christ, there is no place for GUILT in our lives.
I have often taught on the difference between “guilt” and “conviction”. Guilt is condemning and shaming and it wants to make us hide from God (think Adam and Eve in the Garden after they rebelled).
Conviction is different. Conviction alerts us to the sin in our lives because God wants the best for us and sin will hurt us. Conviction does the opposite of guilt; conviction draws us back towards God. It reminds us that we are already forgiven (see yesterday’s writing), and it brings us back to the One who provides the power to overcome sin in our lives.
The Apostle Paul is very transparent in Romans 7 writing –
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
If there was ever a time for Paul to tap the brakes on grace and say what I need is more rules (law) to control my behavior, this would be the place. Instead, at the end of Romans chapter 7 and beginning of chapter 8, his answer is –
“Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my flesh I am a slave to sin.
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our flesh. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our flesh but instead follow the Spirit.”
Jesus had a similar opportunity to provide a list of rules to follow when he was asked directly about what work God requires of us (John 6:28-29) –
“They replied, ‘We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?’
Jesus told them, ‘This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the One he has sent.’”
As always, when I teach I do my best to be on solid biblical ground. So, I wanted to see how the Bible dealt specifically with the word “guilt”. I was having trouble finding the New Testament Greek word meaning “guilt”. I found the Old Testament Hebrew word easily, but struggled to find the Greek word. Then I found this article (highlights) –
Definition. The meaning usually given to the word “guilt” in Christian circles today bears little relation to the biblical meaning.
The Old Testament has a semitechnical term foundational for the biblical concept of guilt, and which teaches us that guilt is fundamentally a relational idea.
Guilt and Guilt Offering in the Old Testament. The Hebrew noun asam [v’a] means both “guilt” and “guilt offering”. The difference between “guilt” and “sin” is important here. Whereas the words for “sin” focus on its quality as an act or as personal failure, asam [v’a] points to the breach in relationships that sin causes, and in particular to the indebtedness that results.
Leviticus 5:14-6:7 and Numbers 5:5-10 makes this special quality of asam [v’a] clear. When someone incurs “guilt” toward a neighbor, full restitution must be made, plus an extra fifth. And then, in addition, a “guilt offering” must be made to the Lord, because when we sin against others and incur “indebtedness” to them, we violate the order that God prescribes for his world and his people, and have thus incurred a debt toward God also.
So an asam [v’a] is a debt for which we must make amends. The Old Testament points to a coming figure whose life will be an asam [v’a] for others ( Isa 53 ).
Liability and Forgiveness in the New Testament. The New Testament has no word equivalent to asam [v’a], but this idea of indebtedness is clearly still crucial. Sins are called “debts” in Matthew’s version of the Lord’s Prayer. But the idea of making restitution has vanished: the debts that others owe us must simply be written off. And this is modeled on God’s action toward us: we must forgive, as he forgives us. The lost son returns to his father with an asam [v’a] in his readiness to make amends by being a servant rather than a son ( Luke 15:18-19 ). But he is accepted unconditionally.
The New Testament has no need for a word equivalent to asam [v’a] because we do not need to pay. The Son of Man gives his life as a “ransom for many” ( Mark 10:45 ), paying our indebtedness for us.
Today’s Good News is there’s no reason nor place for guilt in the life of the Believer. The debt has been paid in full – and that’s really Good News!
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