Nobody likes to feel guilty.
Maybe you’re still holding on to guilt from something you’ve done in the past.
Maybe you are expecting someone to feel guilty for something they did.
Maybe you’re sick and tired feeling it every.single.time you choose to do “it.”
No matter who you are, and what you’ve done, let me be the first one to tell you this:
Guilt is good.
Guilt is liberating.
Guilt is awesome.
Now I didn’t think like this till I read the following sentence by Ellen White in her book, Steps to Christ, which shoved me down a rabbit hole from whence cometh the following thoughts. If you struggle with me during the first part of this post, I assure you’ll breathe in the next.
There are way too many people holding on to guilt or chained by it. If that is you, please keep reading. If not, still keep reading. 🙂
Here we go:
“The Father loved us, not because of the great propitiation, but he provided the propitiation because He loved us” ( SC, 14).
As rhymy and cool sounding as this sentence was, I couldn’t help but wonder:
What on earth is a “propitiation?”
Looked it up. This is how Webster’s Dictionary defines it: To propitiate means to “gain or regain the favor or goodwill of.”
The context points out that Jesus Christ is the great propitiation given to man. The Son of God was given to gain the favor of God for fallen man. This is utterly profound. Let’s consider what this really means lest we gloss over this quickly.
In all fairness, the one who initiates and makes propitiation for the other is the abuser or perpetrator, not the abused or the victim. It is the abuser’s responsibility to take the blame squarely on his/her shoulders and propitiate. But according to the above sentence (and Scripture), God provided his only son – innocent, blameless, and sinless- as a propitiation to us.
But how can the innocent, blameless, sinless Son of God be made unto a “propitiation” for wicked, shameful, blameworthy lives?
The apostle Paul comes in clutch in 2 Corinthians 5:21:
“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”
In short, Jesus was made a sin offering for us by God. Jesus chose to take up the shame, blame, and pain that was mine, onto Him.
As one of my friends once mentioned, Jesus is the only being who chose to be born, but did that only after choosing to die.
So if Jesus chose to take the pain, shame, and blame of my sin on the cross, I don’t have to take it anymore! Because, according to Paul, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ – those who have chosen themselves over to be molded and restored to the likeness of Christ.
I am in Christ by grace through faith. He lives in me through the Holy Spirit. But I am not exempt from the weaknesses of my flesh as long as I’m in this side of heaven. I can still choose to sin if I want to. So when you and I choose to do something that is contrary to the will of God? The immediate response is guilt. And it sucks. Right?
It doesn’t suck.
Guilt is great.
Here’s where I connect the “what” of the first part to the “so what” in the second.
I hope it’s clear that Jesus ALREADY took my pain, shame, and blame onto himself at the cross. I have chosen to be IN Christ. When I choose to sin, therefore, even though it’s my responsibility, I don’t take the blame for it anymore.
Jesus does. Jesus takes the blame, shame, and pain.
The Christ in me takes the blame for my action. The Christ in me feels the hurt, the shame, and the blame. We kid ourselves when we think that the guilt we feel is our guilt. If we really felt our guilt in all its severity and substance, we couldn’t handle it. We would be dead.
Don’t believe me? Look at the cross. My guilt crushed Him. My guilt killed Him. Not His.
This leads to the seminal point of this post:
Guilt is the apology of Christ in me.
When I am in Christ, The “feeling” of guilt I feel is actually not my guilt at all; what I feel is actually the guilt of Christ in me. The “guilt” I feel, is my guilt that Christ took on himself, blaring from the megaphone of the cross and echoing in the chambers of my heart with a soft whisper: “I… am.. sorry..”
Jesus Christ, our Eternal Elder Brother, came not just to save us, but to identify with us. As our forever Pastor in heaven, he relates to us – not just in our holiness but also in our brokenness. The guilt I feel is him identifying with me – the voice of Him who was treated as we deserve so that we can treated as he deserves.
The more I am connected to the Christ in me, the more I hear his apology. Conversely, the less I am connected to Him, the less I feel his pain.
That’s why guilt is good. Because the intensity of your guilt is proportional to your connectivity to Christ. The more guilt you feel, the less you need to be concerned about your standing with God.
But Satan knows that too. Therefore, he has a single item on his to-do list every single day:
This is his Modus Operandi, game plan, and reason for existence. When you choose to sin, he capitalizes on our culpability and downloads into our system a series of lies:
“This is your fault”
“You should be ashamed of yourself.”
“You are worthless.”
“God can’t forgive you. This is too much.”
“How many times can you fall? God is tired of you.”
“Do you think God can ever love you after what you did?”
When you choose to believe these lies, you begin to act according to them. Your attitudes towards yourself and God are fueled by your thoughts. The focus is on self. Another one bites the dust.
But guilt is good news! It is the voice of Jesus inviting you to come back to his arms open wide. It is the voice of a loving father who is waiting to embrace you, not condemn you. It is the voice of an elder brother who is waiting to give you a high-five and encourage you for getting back up.
Guilt provides you the opportunity to glorify God by returning back to him.
So dear reader, I don’t what you have gone through. I don’t know what you have done. I don’t know how you feel. But I do know that God has already paid the price for you and his grace is ever present for those who are willing to receive it. As Jerry Bridges puts it, your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the need of God’s grace, and your best days are never so good that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace.
In Christ, you are so connected to him; So much so that you literally feel his aching heart longing for you.
Still feel guilty? Good. Run to him. He is waiting for you.