Allen Jackson - Freedom From Guilt, Shame and Rejection
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It's an honor to be with you again. Our topic today is freedom from guilt, shame and rejection. You know, so many times I think we imagine that our faith is a limit on our lives. That somehow God has conspired against us to take things away from us: joy, pleasure, happiness, free, whatever it may be. It's a lie from the pit. The reality is Jesus brings freedom to lives. Sin and ungodliness limits you. It limits you emotionally, it limits you physically, it limits the joy of your life. Jesus brings freedom. We're gonna explore how to find freedom through Jesus for some of the most painful experiences of our lives. Don't believe the myth that Jesus wants to take something from you. It's just not true. Grab your Bible and get a notepad, but most of all, open your heart.
There's some wounds that human beings carry, and they're evidence of evil in the world. They're not God intended, they're not a part of his design for us, but there are wounds that come to every one of our lives. None of us escapes without these. And I'm gonna tag them briefly, we won't have time in just this weekend alone, but guilt, shame, and rejection are wounds that touch every life. And I wanna start with the first of those because I think it can be the most debilitating guilt. And I want to, at the start of this part of the discussion, acknowledge that there's a healthy guilt and an unhealthy guilt. A guilt-free life is not the objective. Life without any sense of guilt around anything would be destructive.
Look in 2 Corinthians 7, "Godly sorrow brings repentance and that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death". Godly sorrow brings repentance. So a question I would like to pose to you, and not for immediate answer now, but for some personal reflection, is what is it that brings sorrow to your life these days? What are the things you are grieving? What are the things that bring that sense, if there's a despair that ever touches you, what is the source of that? It'll help you understand a bit, whether that's rooted in something that's godly or something else. Godly sorrow, it says, brings repentance that leads to salvation. No regrets. Worldly sorrow brings death. You don't wanna allow yourself to be given over to a lot of worldly sorrow.
One of the things I encourage you to do frequently is not spend too much time consuming reporting about what's happening in the world. You wanna stay informed and be aware, but you don't need hours a day immersed in that stuff. It's overwhelming. So if we're gonna talk about healthy guilt, that helpful healthy guilt will lead you to repentance. Now, remember our definition of repentance. Repentance is a change of thought, how I think, and a change of behavior, the direction I'm going in. If you don't change how you think and how you behave, it isn't repentance. If you say, "I'm sorry" and ask God to forgive you, but you don't change your thoughts or your behaviors, you didn't repent.
So godly sorrow leads us towards repentance. There is a guilt, there is an awareness of something that is inappropriate, out of line, either in words or actions or thoughts, and your awareness of that is prompted by God to change your thought pattern and your behavior. If we'll cooperate with that, it will bring us to salvation, to a good place, to freedom, to healing, to wholeness, to redemptive repair in our lives and our persons. Harmful guilt is condemning. It's limiting, it's disqualifying. It leaves you forever cast aside, second class, irredeemable. That does not come from the Spirit of God. We're gonna talk a bit more about those categories. But I think we've had so much, we've had kind of a cheap grace that has been predominant in the church for a while, more than a while. Seems to me for a decade or more. And the results of that, is we have a pretty casual attitude about repentance and guilt in general.
We think guilt's just horrible and evil, and we don't wanna bother with that, we wanna be guilt-free. Well, the inability, the unwillingness to process guilt is destructive. If you don't ever recognize a sense of guilt in the context of your spiritual journey, it's a destructive absence in your life. It's as destructive as the inability to feel physical pain. Initially, that might sound wonderful. What would it be like to be completely pain-free? Well, from whatever the egg du jour might be, it is probably a tempting idea, but if you had a complete inability to feel pain, you would be very, very vulnerable to destructive things. You could put food that was way too hot to consume into your mouth and blister all the skin. Pain is a warning. It's a caution light.
Now, as a younger person, I remember, you know, thinking pain was something to be ignored. No pain, no gain, anybody else say stupid things like that when you were younger? I don't say those things nearly as frequently anymore. You know, now I'm in the mode of if it hurts when I do that, well, stop doing that, okay, that's not... there's a reason that that alarm is sounding. Well, guilt has that function. Guilt is a caution light. It can be a warning from the Spirit of God. Well, you can call it your conscience. I don't wanna get into the semantics of this, it's almost an endless circle if we do that. But that caution light that comes from the Spirit of God, where you're ill at ease, you're uncomfortable with an action, an attitude, a behavior, or response.
You can ignore that, you can override that. It's like hitting snooze on your alarm clock. You can keep punching that until the point, the scripture says, that your conscience becomes seared and you lose the ability, you lose that sensitivity. I interact with people from time to time, they really lack that fundamental ability to process what a conscience should bring to their life. That is not a good place to be. You wanna practice a sensitivity to the Spirit of God. To the words you use, to the attitudes that you hold, to the things that you do, to how you interact with people, or you don't. Ask the Spirit of God to help you see yourself and the way you interact with the world around you in the same way that God sees you.
Most of us want God to see us when we're handing him our to-do list. We want his undivided, focused attention and all the power of heaven available to us. I would submit to you, it's far more important that we be alert to God's perspective about us. Psalm 38 and verse 4. The Psalmist writes, "My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear". Or Isaiah chapter 1. This is God speaking to his people, his covenant people, his sacrifice offering, holiday observing, kosher keeping people. "When you spread out your hands in prayer, I'll hide my eyes from you, even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong". That's not written to a pagan nation.
If we put it into contemporary setting, that's not written to the non-Christians, that's written to the Christian community. "Stop doing wrong," he said. "Stop spreading out your hands in prayer and leading ungodly lives. Respond to that inner prompt I have given you. Change how you think and change the way you're behaving". We treat God as if those prompts for him are insignificant, minor. Folks, you don't manage evil, it will destroy you. Let's talk about the other side of that, that unhealthy guilt, destructive guilt. You probably need to make a distinction between sin and guilt, they're not the same. In Isaiah 53 and verse 10, it's describing the sacrifice of the Messiah, says, "It was the Lord's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and the Lord makes his life a guilt offering".
Jesus was our sacrifice. Our guilt was placed upon him. Sin is objective. Guilt is subjective. Guilt is what happens inside of us as a result of ungodliness or sin. Guilt is never having peace for very long. It's a consciousness of your inadequacy, of your failure. It's the imagination that you're second class, it's corrosive. It keeps you silent, it robs you of your courage. One of the reasons we lack the moral authority to engage our culture currently is we have winked and nodded this ungodliness and immorality for so long. We've tolerated, we've practiced it, we know it's been a part of us and we haven't truly repented nor have we truly been freed from our guilt. So we lack the courage to stand up and say, "There's a better way". We know there's a better way.
Look at Revelation 12 and verse 10. We looked at this verse a few sessions back. It's a picture of heaven. It says, "I heard a loud voice in heaven say, 'Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down". What does he accuse us of? What does he accuse us of? He wants us to feel guilty. Remember what he said about Job? Some of you remember the book of Job, it's right before palms. God was celebrating Job and his righteous life and his godliness and Satan presents himself with the angels and said, "Yeah, but he wouldn't do so well if you took your blessings away from him".
He's accusing him. And he accuses you and your thoughts and your emotions. And if you button up your own thoughts and you button up your own emotions, he'll use other people who were vulnerable to his suggestions to accuse you. You're not enough, you're inadequate, you're insufficient. He's unrelenting. The label he's given in scripture is the accuser of our brothers. He had the audacity to present himself to Jesus and tempt Jesus. I assure you he has the audacity to attack you. And as long as you're guilty, as long as you make space for those feelings of guilt and shame, your strength for serving the Lord is tremendously diminished. It's tremendously diminished. There's a way out of this. You don't have to spend your life imagining you're a second class citizen in the kingdom of God. It's wrong to imagine that God wouldn't do something valuable through you because you are not valuable. It's a lie.
So what's the remedy for guilt? Look in Revelation 12 and verse 11. Says, "They overcame him," "They" is the believers on earth, "Him" is Satan. "The believers on earth overcame Satan by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony. And they didn't love their lives so much as to shrink from death". I wanna start my discussion of that verse with the last phrase, "They didn't love their lives so much as to shrink from death". Understand we are in a direct conflict with Satan. I know that's not popular, I understand it's not fashionable. I understand we'll even parse that based on the Christian tradition we prefer to sit in. Some of you prefer traditions that don't talk about spiritual conflict, or you'll say to me, "Well, you know, the way I grew up, we just didn't have that discussion".
Well, okay. Grow up some more. Don't stop. I'm pretty sure when you grew up, you didn't talk about eating organic vegetables. Back in the day, we used think they were all organic. I know we were ignorant and unaware. I wanna walk with you through a few verses, and we're gonna say what they say about us. We're gonna take that guilt out by the roots before we go. And then we're gonna close with communion. Ephesians 1 and verse 7 says, "In him," in Christ, "We have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace". To redeem, redemption kind of has a technical meaning in scripture. It means to buy back. Like you would redeem something from a pawn shop, something that you had relinquished authority and control over, and you'd go in and pay the price, to retrieve it to regain authority over it.
Jesus redeemed us through his blood that we might have our sins forgiven. We don't earn it, it's not something we qualify for, it isn't merit based. It's in accordance with the riches of God's grace. The imagery in that verse comes from the Roman world. You know, I smile, when you study theology formally, they teach you about the social customs of the first century so you can understand what the scripture means because apart from that context, it doesn't, it isn't as significant, but when it comes to the 21st century, we're not sure it's appropriate to talk about our faith in the context of social customs. Do you recognize the discrepancy between those two positions? Our faith is theoretical unless we talk about it in terms of current events. It remains only a theoretical faith, and we won't flourish with a theoretical faith.
So we can say from that verse through the blood of Jesus, I have been redeemed out of the hand of the devil. Can we say that together? You've got it in your notes. Use your voice. "Through the blood of Jesus, I have been redeemed out of the hand of the devil". Look at 1 John 1:7. It says, "If we walk in the light as he's in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin". That's really good news. But it's a conditional promise. You don't get the benefit unless you meet the conditions, and your tears won't change God's mind. Pouting, sulking, throwing a fit, holding your breath, won't do it. The conditional promise, did you get it, said we have to walk in the light. The verbs are in the continuing present tense. We have to walk and continue to walk in the light. You have to choose to honor the truth that you know. You have to have fellowship with one another.
If you're not walking in the light, you won't want to have much fellowship with people who are walking in the light. I hate to admit that my parents were right, but you know, back in the day, when they used to tell you, your friends were a reflection of, yeah, whatever. They were right. The people you choose to spend your discretionary time with are a reflection of your heart condition. There was a time in my life, I didn't really like to be around Christians. I had a whole host of reasons. It was very uncomfortable for me when I realized the reason I didn't like to be around 'em is there wasn't that much Christ in me. If you have more fun with ungodly people than you do godly people, you need to talk to the Lord about the condition of your heart.
If we walk in the light and if we have fellowship with one another, if we're willing to have fellowship with other people that are endeavoring to walk in the light, then we get the benefit. The outcome of that obedience is that the blood of Jesus continually cleanses us from all sin. It's like time released. Is it's fully present at all times to cleanse me from sin? You see, the imagery is that we're not free of the pool of sin. We're not removed from the arena. Our profession of faith didn't make us immune to it. Wasn't some wonderful vaccine that you could keep boosting. Don't smirk. But that if we will walk in the light and walk in fellowship with one another, the blood of Jesus will continually cleanse us.
So when the adversary comes to you and reminds you of a scene in your past or an attitude in your heart or some dark chapter of your choices, your response is, "Through the blood of Jesus, I have been cleansed. You have no authority over me, no power over me". If I asked my heavenly Father about that, he wouldn't know what I was talking about. Because there was a tremendous price payed that I could be free. How dare you accuse me of that? But that comes with repentance. If you're practicing sin, that's a different outcome. So the statement from 1 John 1:7 is because I walk in the light, in fellowship with believers, the blood of Jesus continually cleanses me from all sin. Can we say that together? "Because I walk in the light, in fellowship with believers; the blood of Jesus continually cleanses me from all sin".
Look at Romans 5:9, "Since we've now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him"! Justify carries a kind of an expanded definition. It says if you've been on trial and you've been acquitted, declared not guilty, set free, made righteous. It was just as if there had been no offense. That's what justified means. We've been justified, how? Because I've endured enough sermons. I volunteered enough hours. No, it says we've been justified by his blood. But the outcome of that is we've been saved from God's wrath. So when the accuser is threatening you, if God only knew, if somebody else knew, I've been justified, declared not guilty, acquitted by the blood of Jesus, hallelujah. The statement is through the blood of Jesus, I'm justified acquitted, not guilty, made righteous, just as if I'd never sinned, wow! Let's say that together, "Through the blood of Jesus I am justified, acquitted, not guilty, made righteous, just as if I'd never sinned".
It's amazing. Now we're gonna receive communion together. So when you came in to service, I hope you received the elements of communion. If you didn't, there are some ushers who will be in the aisle way. They will share with you. If you're joining us at home, this is when you need your milk and Oreos, or crackers and water, or your whatever you had prepared. You see communion is not an empty ritual of the church. It's not a tradition we keep. It's something that we are, it's essential to our spiritual health and wellbeing. To understand that our status in the kingdom of God is not secured by attending a service or membership on a roll or the investment of our time. All of those things are reflections of the value that we give to the Lord. But our status in the kingdom comes, because of what Jesus has done for us and our willingness to receive it by faith.
Now, we've made these wonderful assertions based upon the scripture together. But now we're going to come to the communion table. Jesus put this in place. It didn't begin with a pastor or a denomination. He celebrated the Passover meal with his disciples, it's the night he's to be betrayed. He has horrible suffering in front of him and he's ministering to his disciples. The end of the meal, he took bread and he broke it, and he said, "This bread is my body broken for you. As often as you eat this, do this in remembrance of me".
Let's receive it together. And then he took a cup and he said, "This cup is a new covenant sealed with my own blood. As often as you drink it, you proclaim my death until you see me again". Let's drink together. I wanna pray with you. You made some wonderful declarations over your life tonight. And if you came and you need a change of direction and a change of thought, as you've taken that bread and the cup, tonight's the night. It's not about your strength of will, it's about the power of God to set you free. He can set you free from addictions and habits. He can set you free from secrets that you've kept. He's a redeemer, a deliverer, amen? Let's pray:
Father, I thank you for your Word. I thank you for the blood of Jesus, for the freedom it brings to our lives. I thank you that, in your great love for us, you sent your Son and that in his obedience he offered himself as a sacrifice on the cross. And as we have received the bread and the cup tonight, we receive your life into our lives. Lord, we acknowledge those places where we need to come in humility to repent. To lay down our self-righteousness, our determination to be correct, and to yield to your will. Forgive us, cleanse us, renew us. And I thank you that, through the blood of Jesus, we are cleansed, that we have been justified, that we have been sanctified, that we are children of the King. Holy Spirit, we ask for your help. Help us to walk in the newness of this way of life. Give us your thoughts and your courage and your boldness. Most of all, may you be pleased with us, in Jesus's name, amen.