Allen Jackson - Freedom From Guilt - Part 2
It's an honor to be with you again. We're working on a series called "Truth Be Told," and we're looking specifically at some components of God's truth that bring freedom to our lives. We're going to continue in this session with "Freedom From Guilt". Guilt is a weapon of our enemy, our adversary. He tries to make us feel guilty 'cause it silences us.
A couple of things we should always remember, sin is not subjective, it's objective. God has defined sin, he doesn't need my opinion nor yours. We have to comply with his boundaries. But guilt is subjective, there's guilt that's legitimate and guilt that's not, and we need to learn to recognize the difference. When the Holy Spirit's convicting us, we can be free. When Satan is condemning us, we can tell him to leave. We don't have to spend our lives in condemnation. That's the point of the redemptive work of the cross. Well, grab your Bible and a notepad, but most of all, open your heart. I believe God would bring freedom to your life in some new ways today. Enjoy the lesson.
The practice of sin will destroy you. You don't get away with it. Pastor's not the judge. The people you worship with are not the judges, 'cause all you have to do is change churches, you get a clean slate. Ephesians chapter 4 describes the challenge. Paul's writing to a church. He's not writing to a community of pagans, but to a community of believers. He said, "I tell you this. I insist on it in the Lord that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do in the futility of their thinking". He didn't say they were stupid, he said their thinking is futile, it won't bear fruit, it won't bring a good outcome. And then he describes it, he says, "Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity with a continual lust for more".
They've lost any sensitivity to the Spirit of God, and they've given themselves over to gratifying their sensual nature. It's not a bad descriptor of contemporary American Christiandom. I read the surveys. The marketing people say there's really no difference in marketing products to the Christian community and the non-Christian community. We respond to the same prompts. We've lost some sensitivity. Similar message in 1 Timothy chapter 4. It says, "Such teachings come through hypocritical liars whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron".
I talked to you a few minutes ago about the convicting nature of the Holy Spirit, that he'll make you uncomfortable with things. Sometimes it'll be a setting where you're in, sometimes it'll be something you've said. It can be a whole menu of things, but you know what that is like. But if you ignore him, if you turn the volume down on that, if you refuse to listen, see, it's possible to become so calloused and insensitive to ungodliness that we don't even know how to make the distinction. We can't afford to spend too much time around ungodliness. Don't use your discretionary time to give exposure to ungodly things. Don't do that. Don't accommodate wickedness. Don't make excuses for it. Don't tolerate it in your own realm of influence.
I understand we live in a fallen world, you can't withdraw from that, I'm not suggesting that you should. But in your realm of influence, don't make excuses for ungodliness, immorality, wickedness, dishonesty, greed, envy, jealousy. If we do, we will lose our perspective. We have lost our perspective until marriage was redefined and we hardly said anything. We said, "Well, we need to be understanding and inclusive". They took prayer out of our schools and we didn't pray at our home, so why should we bother if they pray at schools? We've lost our balance. The practice of sin is destructive. Church, we've had an arrogance. We've embraced a cheap grace. Look with me in Galatians chapter 5, it says, "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious".
When I read that, I thought obvious to whom? Because the things that are about to be listed would not be obvious in our culture as acts that are sinful. Sexual immorality, and I'll give you the short course on that. God said the marriage bed is pure, and holy, and undefiled. Sexual activity beyond that is immoral, before marriage, beyond marriage. "Impurity, debauchery, excess, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, and factions, envy". Envy's in the same list with sexual immorality, drunkenness, and orgies. You know, for everything listed there, they start in our carnal self, in that old, adamic, earthly part of us. When you're born again, your spirit is made new, you become a totally new creature.
Your spirit is made alive to God, but you still got the same earth suit with all the same tendencies and dispositions. You still have the same way of thinking. And we have to yield our mind, and our will, and our emotions to God. Now that is a struggle, and that's not accomplished just when you say the sinner's prayer. That's not accomplished by sitting in church. You can sit in church and be extraordinarily carnal. That's not accomplished by spiritual experiences. You can speak in tongues and be very carnal. You can pray for the sick and cast out demons and be very carnal. Jesus said people will approach him at the end of the age and say I did miracles in your name, and he'll say depart from me, I never knew you.
Now, that's not a criticism of the supernatural or the miraculous, it's an acknowledgment that those external signs of religion are not the real litmus test. That carnal nature within us is given expression through that list. Now, it's not an inclusive list, we'll look at another one in a moment. It could be expanded, but it's a pretty good indicator of how that part of us that isn't yielded to god would like to behave. It's never enough, that's debauchery. We just can't get enough, we need more. Indulgent, jealous, and for every, if you begin to give indulgence to your carnal nature, you will get an assist from an unclean spirit. And what begins as a choice that you make, you will lose your freedom of choice over it, 'cause there'll be an unclean, unholy spirit that will begin to add momentum to that.
We see the result of all sorts of destructive addictions within and beyond the church. It's a serious warning. Look at the next sentence, it's important. He said, "I warn you as I did before". This is something he said to the Galatian church multiple times. "I warn you as I did before that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God". You can't practice sin. You cannot put sinful behavior into your portfolio of habits and think that we can receive the benefits of the kingdom of God, not my opinion.
Now, the struggle with sin is similar but different. You see, temptation is universal. Everyone is tempted. Pastors are tempted, Sunday School teachers are tempted, but yielding is not. We have choices to make. Look at Hebrews chapter 12. We're being coached through this. It says, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, he's the author and the perfecter of our faith". He's the one that initiates our faith. It's through faith in his name that we're saved, but it's through faith in him that we will have the courage to put to death, to crucify, our old carnal nature. So, it requires a greater focus on the lordship of Jesus after you become a Christ follower than it does to become a Christ follower. He's the author of our faith, but he's the one that can bring our faith to its completion. And then it's gonna describe the Jesus journey. "Who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame".
See, shame doesn't just say that you failed, shame says you are a failure. Shame is toxic. Guilt and shame are lousy long-term motivators. Don't use them. How many of you believe Jesus could've been tempted to think at the point he's arrested, his closest friends abandoned him, within a few hours he'll stand on the steps of judgment in the city of Jerusalem. The people to whom he has come as Messiah, that had been looking forward to his arrival for hundreds of years, will be given a proposition by a Roman governor that says I'll release your Messiah to you, or I'll release a murderer, and they screamed, "Give us Barabbas". "And what should I do with the one that you say is your Messiah"? "Crucify him," it would have been a temptation to feel like you had failed, but the author of Hebrews says he scorned the shame, he pushed it away, he sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
"Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood". You see, we struggle with sin internally. We struggle with our own temptations, with our own propositions of ungodliness that come to us through thought, our invitation, through other persons, through a myriad of ways, they come to us. We all understand that to be true. The carpet's brown, I'll help you, those of you that are checking it out. We all struggle with internal temptation, but we also struggle with sin in the broader world.
Sin brings problems to us, not our own sin always, sometimes the fact that we live in a fallen, broken world means we're put in circumstances where we are disadvantaged, or we are put upon, we're mistreated. Jesus was crucified not because of his sin, but because of the sin in the world. He suffered horribly. His disciples didn't abandon him because he was a poor trainer, they abandoned him because of the temptations of their own life. So, when you and I think of the struggle with sin, the easiest way is to think about it in terms of your own invitations to ungodliness. The larger challenge and the greater challenge we've gotta lift our eyes to is the fact that we live in a fallen world, and we've been called to be salt and light, to stand against, and having done everything we can do, to still stand. We have to put on the armor of God not because internally were corrupt, but because we live in a sinful, fallen world.
Hebrews chapter 4, "We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses". Or if you said it in the positive, we have a high priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, "Because we have one who was tempted in every way, just as we are, yet he was without sin". Again, it's very important to understand that temptation is not a failure, because the enemy will tell you because you were tempted, because you had an unclean thought, you had an impure idea, because you made a mistake, that you're a failure. That your faith is no good, it's a lie. Temptation is not a failure, temptation is universal. Jesus was tempted, we just read it. It said he was tempted in every way. I believe that. I believe every possible temptation available to a human being was put before Jesus. "He was tempted in every way, just as we are, yet he managed to do without sin". So, he is our high priest is a safe place for us. You could talk to the Lord when you're tempted. Don't hide from him. Don't accept the guilt of being tempted.
Now Jesus, how much time have we got? He's our guilt offering. You know, in the Hebrew Bible, in the Old Testament, we're reading through the Old Testament. I hope you do that with us. It describes the sacrificial system, all the offerings that were invited. You and I can be forgiven through prayer, but prior to the implementation of Jesus's sacrifice as the Passover Lamb, there was a rather elaborate system of sacrifices, and the sacrifice you would offer would have to do with the nature of the sin you'd committed, and your own personal circumstances, what was available to you given those circumstances. Imagine if every time you committed a significant sin, you had to have a bull and bring it to church. We'd have a whole parking lot out here, right? Especially suited for trailers to unload bulls. And given human nature, don't you know there'd be bleachers out there, 'cause there'd be a group of people taking note of how many weeks in a row you had to bring a herd of bulls to church.
Well, Jesus offered himself as our guilt offering. Not my opinion, it's the Scripture. I'm not going to build the case completely, but I'll give you at least a representation. Isaiah 53 in verse 10, it was the Lord's will. Isaiah 53 is a messianic prophecy. It's a chapter in the book of Isaiah, 500 years before the birth of Jesus. Isaiah described the Messiah and what God would do in him, to him, and through him. It was offensive enough that scholars, both Jewish scholars and liberal Christian scholars, said Isaiah 53 was not original, that it had been added to the text after Christianity emerged, and it had been manipulated. You know, there's fashion in theology just like there's fashion in the educational system.
But in 1948, when the nation of Israel was being reborn, and they had access to the land of Israel, there was a shepherd boy that in a cave near the Dead Sea found some scrolls. It's a long story. They made their way to Bethlehem, at least the legend is, to the store of a shoemaker, and he was about to cut the scroll up into shoes, and somebody came through his shop and recognized it, but the oldest copy of the scroll of Isaiah, the book of Isaiah we had was from about 1.000 A.D. So, it enabled the Jewish scholars to say the Christians corrupted the text, and it enabled the Christian scholars to say the text has been manipulated, there really was no Isaiah. And when that scroll was found and it was examined by the scholars and dated, it was a thousand years older than the oldest scroll we had, and it was almost letter for letter exact, Isaiah 53 and all.
So, this is Isaiah 53, just one verse, verse 10. "It was the Lord's will to crush him," it's talking about the Messiah, "to cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand". Jesus was offered as our guilt offering. Romans chapter 8, this is the New Testament perspective. "There is therefore now no condemnation," "No condemnation to those in Christ Jesus". See, we read that as if it said there's no condemnation to those who are at WOC, or who are Methodist, or Presbyterian, or Catholic, or Church of Christ. We kind of insert our own thing. Our primary allegiance is to the lordship of Jesus of Nazareth. And if we put something else ahead of that, we're idolaters. "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh as an offering for sin". Jesus was our guilt offering.
Look at Hebrews 13, "The high priest carries the blood of animals into the most holy place as a sin offering, so Jesus also offered outside gate, the city gate to make the people holy". The word literally is to sanctify the people, "Through his own blood". Jesus offered his blood on the altar so that you and I might be sanctified, set apart for the purposes of God. Remember our definition? Hebrews chapter 9, "When Christ came as the high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not manmade, that is to say not part of this creation".
Can I go back for just a moment to science or spiritual things? It's not either and, it's both and. It's not either or, it's both and. There's a heavenly tabernacle. The spiritual authority impacts our physical journey. If we try to make it through time without relying upon the spiritual authority that's given to us, we will lead diminished lives. Because our victory isn't just in time, it's for all eternity. Same chapter, verse 12, "Jesus did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves, but he entered the most holy place once and for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption". Jesus, our high priest, offered his blood as the sacrifice to obtain our redemption, to buy us out of the slave pit, and the price that was paid was his blood. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.
We have been bemoaning and discouraged by a shifting in the systems of the world. Our Redeemer is alive. He's preparing our hearts. Same chapter, 9, look at verse 13. "The blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean. Sanctify them, so that they're outwardly clean". They could go through the ritual of the law and it would externally address the problem. Yes, you were sprinkled with the appropriate water that had the ashes of the red heifer, but it didn't change fundamentally what was happening within us. "How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit, offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God".
You see, the blood of Jesus doesn't just cleanse us ceremonially, it cleans our conscience. So when the enemy says, "Do you remember"? You can go, "Well, actually I probably do, but let me read you a verse". And you may need to keep several of these verses at hand for awhile if guilt has been a problem. If you've imagined because of your failures, and your inconsistencies, and your ungodly past, that you are a second-class citizen in the kingdom of God, you'll need to keep some of these verses.
1 John 1:9, "That if we confess our sins, he's faithful and just". Or maybe you'll want Hebrews 9:14, "That the blood of Christ was offered by the eternal Spirit so that we could cleanse our conscience". Yes that is me in the video you're reminding me of, but let me remind you of a cross, and an empty tomb, and the blood of the Lamb that has washed me clean, and I am free. And I will pray for my children, or I will pray for my neighbor, or I will pray for the school system, or I will ask God to bring life and health when someone is sick. Not because of my righteousness, or my holiness, or my perfection, but because through the blood of Jesus, I have been redeemed, sanctified, justified, and delivered out of the hand of the enemy. Folks, we've been diminished long enough.
The practice of sin will destroy us. The struggle with sin is universal. We need to know the difference. We cannot afford the luxury of indulging and practicing sin. We have to come to the Lord and repent and choose a new path. The struggle with sin we all know, but it's the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross that promises us freedom. I want to pray with you. If you've got the courage, ask the Holy Spirit to show you any place where you need God's forgiveness.
Father, I thank you that through the blood of Jesus, we have been redeemed out of the hand of the enemy. That every claim against us has been canceled. It's been marked paid in full through Jesus's redemptive work. We thank you for our freedom, in Jesus's name, amen.