Friday, June 12, 2009

How Guilt is Satisfied

Have you felt guilty this week?

How many things haven't gotten crossed off your to-do list? How many times have you snapped at your spouse or your children or your co-workers? How much have you prayed? Read the Word? How have you served people in need?

Are you feeling guilty yet?

The sermon I heard on Sunday could have induced guilt. In it, our pastor talked about the fact that although we cannot offer any sacrifice to make ourselves acceptable to God, once we are God's children, we can offer sacrifices that are pleasing to Him. Such sacrifices don't merit His approval or make us righteous, but they do demonstrate that we already *are* righteous in Christ, and they bring God pleasure.

Hebrews 13:15 calls us to offer sacrifices of praise, and the pastor challenged us to have praises and nourishing words flowing from our lips, rather than complaints and grumbling and corrupt talk. Ouch--that's convicting.

Hebrews 13:16 instructs us to do good deeds, to share with others. Am I exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit, preferring others above myself, caring for the poor, using my abundance to bless others who are less fortunate? Ouch again.

But then the pastor said something stunningly beautiful. "Feeling guilty?" he asked. "Your guilt isn't satisfied in doing better. It's cleansed at the cross."

I was so thankful for that powerful reminder. How quick I am to forsake the gospel and revert back to legalism! Convicted of my sins of omission and commission, my first thought is that I need to change, to stop doing these things and start doing those things. I need to try harder, need to get my act together.

The truth is, I can't. I can't perform well enough to assuage my guilt. I can only run to the cross. I can only depend on the Spirit to work His transforming power in me.

At the end of the sermon, the pastor again said, "Don't focus on 'How do I do the works?' but on 'How can I find more joy in the gospel?' Then these things will flow out of your joy in the gospel." Yes! There's no power in creating a longer, more intensive to-do list for myself. The power is found in Jesus. Rather than looking for ways to do better, strive harder, I need to fix my eyes on Jesus. I need to seek to be filled and satisfied in Him--and as my joy in Him increases, it will overflow in the form of the praises and good deeds that please Him.

Feeling guilty? The solution isn't to try harder and earn a clear conscience. The solution is the glorious gospel of grace: Christ's death in our place, His righteousness on our behalf, His resurrection guaranteeing ours. Take your guilt to the cross.


Unknown said...

Awesome! Thank you for that wonderful reminder of our Sovereign Lord and His grace!!!!

Terri said...

What a great reminder! It is so easy to get caught in the mindset of if I could only do more or do it better.It is all in the cross and sadly so many do not know this.I wish I could have heard the whole sermon.

Amy said...

Terri--you can :)

Here's a link to the sermons.

The one I wrote about here is titled "The Faith of Abel" from June 7.

Jules said...

Did you get to hear an honest to goodness real live sermon where you didn't have to leave the service because of a cranky kid?! Woo-hoo!!!

PS. I haven't heard a sermon in it's entirety in six months! So glad you did and were able to pass along your thoughts.