Tired Of Feeling Guilty?
Confused? Let me explain. Have you ever used a screwdriver as a hammer? Ever tried cleaning your ear with a pen? Ever sought refuge from the rain with a plastic bag on your head? Sure you have. We all have. Ok, maybe the specifics were a little different but at the very least we have all committed the same fundamental error. We take a tool and we use it the wrong way. We use it for something other than its original design and purpose. Sometimes the results can be comical. But more times than not the results can be catastrophic. Inherit in any tool’s design is a plan and process that defines its proper use. Deviate from the intended use and things are guaranteed to go wrong. It’s critically important that the tool be used correctly.
I wonder if Paul might have had that image in mind when he wrote verses 8-11 of 1 Timothy 1. Look at it for a minute. “But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious,…” Now, I know what some of you are already thinking. The list, the list, the list… read the rest of the list. Boy… we love our lists in the Body of Christ, don’t we? Especially if that list is limited and particularly if our specific weakness and sin is not included. Rather than trying to understand the actual intent we use it as a moral checklist. Murder? Nope, not me. Adultery? Nope, not me? Kidnapping? Nope, not me. And on and on it goes. The problem is that we are so busy focusing on the list that we miss the point. God created the Law. But He created it for a specific purpose. He created it with a clear goal in mind. Consider the following points:
- The Law is good. The Law in and of itself is NOT bad. In that regard it’s similar to a gun. It can be used as a tool or it can be used as a weapon. The gun itself is amoral. The moral or immoral use of the tool is incumbent upon the user. Such is the Law. Far too often in our longing for freedom we throw out the baby with the bath water. We make the mistake of equating freedom with no rules. In our frail and fallen humanity we need standards. We need guidelines for daily living. Left to our own devices we generally make the wrong decisions. The Law is good.
- If one uses it lawfully. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to convict (i.e., convince fallen humanity of its sinfulness and subsequent need for a Savior). But far too often we try to expedite the process and use the tool of the Law like some theological sledge-hammer, beating away at man’s resistance to the Gospel. Instead of divine conviction the listening party only hears and feels condemnation. Instead of perceiving the loving sacrifice of a gracious and forgiving, heavenly Father, they hear only one message, “You’re bad… You’re bad… You’re bad.” No love. No mercy. No grace. Only anger and rejection.
- A righteous person. Too often we use these NT lists as a means of propping up our own sense of self-righteousness. Last time I checked there was none righteous. No, not one. We all fall short of the glory of God. Sure, my sin might not be on the list but that doesn’t make it any less heinous. We love to publicly denounce the sins of others and all the while we hide ours away, pretending that our righteousness is pristine and pure. It’s time we stopped using the Bible as a point of contention and separation. God died for all of us. The same love He extended to me while I was lost in sin is the same love I in turn am commanded to show to others.
- Lawless and rebellious. I’ll admit it. Even if some others won’t. Yes, I had a life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ just prior to my 21st birthday. Yes, I have been walking this road of faith for over 25 years now. But the honest truth is that I still struggle with my lawless and rebellious nature. I still struggle with sin. I still give in to temptation. I still make the wrong choices and do the wrong things. No, I’m not the same person I used to be. But neither am I perfect. And I honestly don’t think I ever will be in this life. It’s easy to point the finger of the Law at others, to attack them and accuse them. The problem is that for every one finger that points at them, three of my own point back at me.
In closing, I want to remind all of us of two important truths today. As it relates to the Law… First of all, Jesus did not do away with the Law. He fulfilled it. In Him we are made righteous through His sacrificial life and death. What I could not do, he did. The Law I could not obey? He obeyed it and kept it without sin. Secondly, because of His death I am forgiven. Read that last sentence again… It’s past tense. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. In that moment when we come to the Cross the guilt of our past is wiped away, we are forgiven, and we are made new. The guilt of our sins has been paid for by the Person of Jesus. For those who have entered into life with Christ there is no more guilt, no more condemnation. We are forgiven. And we are free.
Want to read more about grace and forgiveness? Try these blogs: