Posts Tagged ‘guilt’

Godly Sorrow

August 21st, 2017

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. (2 Corinthians 7:10 ESV)

The circumstance was that Paul had written to them in his first letter to the Corinthians a strong word of rebuke based on what he had heard of the church. They had compromised the moral standings of Christianity with their acceptance of immoral people – presumably in the name of grace. Grace means that the guilty sinner can be freely forgiven. But grace can be misused and abused to teach that sin is of no consequence at all.

Let us be clear that the only remedy for sin is the blood of Jesus Christ, shed for our sins on Calvary. And though the grace of God is wide and deep – all sinners are welcomed to repent and come to Christ for forgiveness and new life – the grace of God is possible only because Christ died for our sins. The biblical doctrine of grace takes sin deadly seriously. We are deeply fallen as a race, but we are also deeply loved by God and can be completely forgiven in Christ.

So Paul was addressing the false teaching on grace that suggested that sin did not matter so much after all. That God loved sinners and we love to sin so don’t worry so much about it, or at least that was the general idea. They even boasted that they had accepted some who were notoriously involved in sin – most notably a man who had his father’s wife (1 Cor. 5:1) – we assume this meant that he was engaged in a live-in sexual relationship with his step mother. Paul was right to rebuke them in love.

The Holy Spirit brings conviction of sin to our hearts (John 16:8-11), and with that conviction He also assures us that Christ has paid for our sins by His death on the cross. The true believer is genuinely sorry for his sins, regrets his life of sin, and sees that Christ went to the cross for him. But as he repents, the Spirit also assures him that he is fully forgiven and is now included in the family of God. The Bible says:

1 John 1:9-10: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

Romans 3:23-24: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:1: Therefore, there is no no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:16:The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

Godly sorrow, or “godly grief” (ESV), results in genuine repentance and the receiving of God’s gracious forgiveness and inner cleansing. And it also results in a change in direction of life. The one who is truly repentant, truly sorry for his sins, will experience the great touch of God in his soul assuring him of his new standing, and motivating him for sincere worship and service.

Worldly sorrow, on the other hand, merely produces guilt and more guilt. Worldly sorrow is the human effort to make people feel bad about their sins, and it does not offer full forgiveness and full acceptance – just unending and unresolved guilt. We are to live in the reality of God’s grace and forgiveness, not in the constant reminder of our failures. Though we never forget the reality of God’s grace, that we are accepted only by Christ, our focus is on the payment by Christ for our sins and not on the sins themselves.

Paul said he lived each day in this reality, “And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20b). If we let the Spirit convict, then we will see more godly sorrow and less worldly sorrow. If we struggle with worldly sorrow, then we need to return to the cross in our minds and our hearts and simply believe that Christ has paid for our sins there, and then rejoice in our salvation and forgiveness.

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Pursue Righteousness

November 18th, 2016

But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. (1 Timothy 6:11)

In the 1972 Olympics, Finnish runner Lasse Viren competed in the 10,000 meter race – a grueling long distance. Finnland had not won a gold medal since 1936, and expectations were low for the relatively inexperienced Finnish policeman. The race began and quickly the leader pack of five separated from the others, and surprisingly, Viren was among them. But just before the halfway point, through no fault of his, Viren’s legs got tangled up with another runner’s and they both tumbled onto the track.

In such a tight race, a fall is virtually guaranteed to put one out of the race altogether. But Viren rose to his feet and raced after the leaders. By 6,000 meters he had not only caught up with the leaders but taken the lead himself. From that point on in the race the lead changed hands (or legs) between Viren and other runners, but at 600 meters he surged ahead to win.

Paul’s words echo throughout this story, “Forgetting those things which lay behind, stretching forward to those things which are ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14). And now, in the text above, he admonishes Timothy to do the same.

The “things” he was to flee were the things of the world, notably the love of money. But other things are mentioned as well – envy, strife, evil suspicions, useless arguing, rejection of the truth. To flee such things means that the problem is not only with others but within ourselves as well. Our problem is not only with the world “out there” but with the world “in here,” in our hearts and minds, as well.

How can a man flee his own soul?

We will only find success in fleeing evil in our personal pursuit of righteousness, in the pursuit of Christ and His fellowship and His life. The old sinful nature is always with us, but we may find victory by constantly giving ourselves to Christ, constantly allowing Him to strengthen us, constantly pursuing Him and His will.

Two natures beat within my breast.
The one is foul. The one is blessed.
The one I love. The one I hate.
The one I feed will dominate.

In God’s grace, we must forget our failures as well as the failures of others. It is easy to obsess on some moment in our life, as though it was a remarkable moment – and whether the fault was mostly ours or mostly anothers or shared equally, those times of failure are things of the past. Sin and failure, having confessed them and repented of them, must always be forgotten under the grace of Christ, placed in the category of those things that are matters of the past, not matters of our future.

The matters which Paul admonished Timothy and us to pursue were listed in the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). We may simply say that we are to pursue the life of Christ, the daily filling of the Spirit. The listed attributes Paul gave to Timothy were of special interest to him, and we may let the Spirit do the same with us, to see those elements of grace that we are weaker in and need to grow more. But the standard is the “perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13 NKV).

If you have fallen on your face in your Christian life, if your devotion and love of Christ lie in the dust of failure, get up and pursue Christ by the calling of His love and in the power of His grace. The race is not over.


The Land of Whatcouldhavebeen
by David Packer

A guest in the land of Whatcouldhavebeen
One restless night I spent.
Cold ivies entwined the darkened display
Her city’s walls expressed.
No mirth from a band welcomed those who came
To stroll its nation’s malls.
Upon every street I feared I would find
Records of where I failed,
Etched by the hand of memory’s regret
I feared I would unveil
Artworks recording lost opportunities
Squandered in rebellion,
Lost treasures of days from lazy neglect
In weedy overgrowth,
Monuments to what time had washed away,
Never to be regained.
Riches on the left, fortune on the right
Never to be regained.

In shaken cadence I passed through the streets
Seeking the urban heart,
Closed-eyed to the scenes of each avenue
In dream I walked ahead.
Then on cobblestone I stumbled upon
The central city’s theme.
A monument rose from ground to the clouds
My soul’s greatest loss. Fearfully I gazed
Upon the stirring shrine:
A hand outstretched from heaven to the earth
Whose grasp beckoned to me,
A jagged nail-scar marked its Owner’s Name
Revealing His intent.
The greatest of my soul’s neglects had been
Lost time alone with Him.
All other of my soul’s deepest regrets
Trivially faded.

As I stood with open gaze upon God’s
Crucified loving hand,
The fingers moved in pantomimed message,
Closer, closer, nearer!
Take My hand, walk with Me, and hear My heart,
Some daylight still lingers.
My hands grasped one finger, my knees knelt down,
And my tears flowed freely.
My life’s collected failures and lost dreams –
Wealth, influence, friends, fame –
Un-reclaimable are forever gone,
Never again my own,
But grasping God’s hand of limitless love
Awash in grace’s flood,
I wondered how I could have missed it all –
To know Him is my life!
All other pursuits pass away with time
But He is forever.

I woke from the land of Whatcouldhavebeen
And shook its fears away.
I have today, tomorrow, forever
To know my Savior’s love.
The flame of hope that raw regret douses
He rekindles in grace.

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