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Have I Gone Too Far as a Christian?

Godís Parental Forgiveness (Part 2)

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

Read part 1

(4/22) John Greenleaf Whittier wrote these familiar words, "For of all sad words of tongue or pen the saddest are these: "It might have been." Donít raise your hand, but I wonder how many people still say after years and years, "If only I would haveÖ," or, "If only I wouldnít haveÖ" I think Paul felt this at times. Listen to His confession in Romans 7. but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. Ever felt that way? You have if you as a Christian have sinned, whether it was intentional, or unintentional, planned or unplanned, if you gave into your appetite, emotions, desires, etc. and the result is that you are living with guilt and shame. People around you may not know why you feel as you do. You may have done a good job hiding it or you may not have, but you know the sting of the guilt in your life. You may be wondering, how can God forgive me? I did what I did as a Christian, a child of God, and I exchanged my peace and forfeited my position, for a bowl of Jacobís stew. Does that fit you or anyone you know?

Last week we dealt with Godís judicial forgiveness which everyone in the world needs. This morning, I want to look at Godís parental forgiveness; when a child of God sins. What I want to do is to honestly help you, as one recovering sinner to another, to know how to deal with that guilt and to tell you how to have a fresh beginning.

Is that really possible? Can I have a fresh start? Honestly, the answer is both, "Yes," and, "No." No, you can not get your virginity back or the unborn childís life. No, you can not renew your liver or lungs, or the pain that you caused others. But, yes, you can have a fresh beginning with the rest of your life and live a life of purpose and peace. You see our God offers you these two things. The First is total, complete, full forgiveness of your sins of the past, the present, and the future. The Second is a Fresh Start. Listen to Isaiah 1:16-19. This is Godís Offer to us. "Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow. "Come now, and let us reason together," Says the LORD, "Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land. John says a similar thing when He says (1 John 1:9): "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

David experienced these two things; that is, the full forgiveness from God and a fresh start. Look at Psalm 32 for a moment. Notice David begins with a triumphal feeling of relief from his guilt and sin. He uses four different words for sin in his outburst of praise for the grace he has experienced.

  • Blessed (How Happy) is He whose transgression is forgiven. (A rebellious willful act of disobedience)
  • Whose sin is covered- (a deviation from the right path)
  • Blessed (How Happy) is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity- (a twisted crooked nature-"that man is a crook")
  • And in whose spirit there is no deceit or guile- (no treachery or deception)

But David knew that to get to this place of relief and blessedness, he had to deal with his sin and guilt and He was led by God to write this Psalm and others (38; 51) to encourage us to do the same. David had committed adultery, murder, and intentional

public deception to cover up his sins. You can read the account in 2 Samuel 11-12. This was a man that God said was a man after His own heart, a God chaser, a Spiritual man, a man of immense faith but, like Humpty Dumpty, he took a great fall. Psalms 32, 38, & 51, describes for us what was taking place inside of Davidís head and heart.

So, For the next few moments, I want to share with you two lists that are not exhaustive but will help you to understand what sin and its guilt does and how we can deal with it- Godís way.

10 Consequences of our Guilt (not in any order)

  1. Physical illness (Ps. 32:3-4; Follow and listen as I read to you Psalm 38:1-10) Guilt puts a strain on our bodies that causes it to break down and impede the immunity system.
  2. Depression, Despondency, Sadness, Lethargy as we live with regrets." We feel worthless, perhaps useless to God or even society. Christian psychologist, Dr. Gary Collins, writes: "Guilt has been described as the place where religion and psychology most often meet. Probably there is no other topic which is of equal interest to both theologians and professional counselors, and perhaps no other issue so consistently pervades all of the problem areas discussed in this book. Talk with people who are depressed, lonely, struggling with marriage problems, homosexual, alcoholic, grieving, dealing with middle age, or facing almost any other problem and you will find people who experience guilt as part of their difficulties. One other writer has even suggested that guilt in some way is involved in all psychological problems."
  3. More Sin. That is, sin leads to more sin. Some one once said that Satanís two biggest lies are, "One will never hurt you." and, "Now you are in too deep." The result of believing one or both of these lies is that we continue in that sin or we add others to it. Davidís adultery led to murder which led to deception and lies.
  4. Godís Discipline or Correction Ėto get our attention and correct us and help us live holy. This could be sickness, or other painful things that God uses to get our attention as Heb. 12:5-16 and many others reminds us.
  5. Loss of Spiritual Relationship- That is, sin and its guilt causes us to stop praying, stop reading our Bibles or devotional books, stop going to church because we donít want to see our Father or have to confront Him. Our relationship with Him is strained. We tell the children or our spouses to bless the meals or we stop giving thanks altogether.
  6. Lack of Faith- That is, we donít believe God can, will, or wants to forgive me. I am of no value to God or perhaps to others. Iíve gone to far, like the Vietnam veteran, I spoke of last week. This leads to further feelings of aloneness, feeling alienated from God, feeling anxious, perhaps even fearful.
  7. Desire for Pain- That is I believe I deserve to suffer and I even want to suffer to experience pain and some how pay for my sin.
  8. Over Compensation - That is, I do lots of Good stuff to try to work off my debt with God and society. Several movies over the years have been about people who are given a second chance to work off their debt so they can go to heaven. Being good is good but being good canít free us from our past; only Godís grace can release us and set us free.
  9. Cover Up Our Sin Ė with excuses, blame-shifting, rationalizing and self-justifying like Adam and Eve, or Aaron we try to mask or cover our sin.
  10. False Guilt- that is, the continual carrying of sin that God has forgiven you of. Some of you will confess the same sin over and over and over, because you have listened to Satan say, "You donít really think God lets you off the easy, do you? You need to carry this and deal with it over and over again."

II. 10 Steps for Dealing with Guilt and finding Forgiveness and Peace.

When I had outlined what I wanted to say, I was amazed at how much of what I am about to share comes out of the 12 steps of AA and similar programs. I have just combined a few of those steps. Bob and Bill (Men who started A.A.), believed that the Bible had the answers and that if they followed Godís prescription they could be well.

  1. Review- that is, Identify the source of your guilt. Without excuses, blame-shifting, rationalizing, etc. What did I do, say, think, or not do, etc., that is haunting my mind and conscience? This is not the millions of thoughts and words and attitudes, or the things I have forgotten. These are the ones I know that have affected my life and perhaps the lives of others. Step 4 of AA says, after the first 3 steps of realizing only God can help me, step four says, "Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." Was it drugs, alcohol, pornography, cheating on your taxes, a lie, adultery, deceptive business deals, angry words, hatred, bitterness, or what? You see God has a good purpose for that guilt that you are feeling (2 Cor. 7:7-10). Whenever you pray, Jesus said to say, "Forgive us our debtsÖ"(Matt. 6:11). David said, "Search me O God and know my heartÖ" (Psalm 139:23-24).
  2. Realize that Godís Remedy for sin is complete- and finished. You know that when Jesus died on that cross, He died for your sins, all of your sins. He was your substitute, your stand in, your replacement. He paid for all your sins. Thatís why there is no purgatory. He paid for your sins in full. He knew what you were going to do. When Jesus came all of your sins were still future and yet God knew them and all of them were charged to His account. (Romans 5:6-8; 1 John 1:7- 2:2; Isa. 53:4-6, 8; Col. 2:14). One of the last things that Jesus said from the cross is, "It is Finished," paid in full, (John 19:30). Listen to how the Bible illustrates this. Consider the following: Psalm 130:3; 103:10-11; Micah 7:18-20; Romans 8:1; Hebrews 10:17. There is power in the blood.
  3. Respond in agreement with God about your sins. Psalm 32:5; 51, 1 John 1:9; that is, to Confess (step 5- 7). "God, your word is right and I was wrong. Without excuse, without rationalizing, or blame-shifting, I acknowledge that I was wrong. What I did was sin and I am sorry."
  4. Repent Ė Here I mean to intentionally follow Jesus and His word in everything. I am not following my own ways any longer, or the worldís ways, I am going to follow Godís ways. Repent-means to intentionally turn around; to change my mind with a view of changing my actions. John the Baptist said, "Repent," so did Jesus our Lord and Paul and Peter, (Acts 2:37-38; Acts 17:30-31). Our Lord told the woman caught in Adultery, "Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more."(John 8:11 cp. John 5:14)
  5. Repair (steps 8-9) sometimes our sins have directly been against someone. We have hurt or offended them and we must without excuse go to them and seek forgiveness from them and if possible make reparations. Zacchaeus did that, as prescribed in the law (Ex. 22 and Lev. 6:1-5). (Matthew 5:23 "go repair a relationship) Again, no excuses or blame-shifting, it is what God wants more than worship. We will talk about how to do that in two weeks.
  6. Resist the Devil. Satan is an Accuser and a Liar. The Bible says that he will accuse you to God, to others, and accuse you to you. He will tell you to make excuses and to blame others. He will also tell you that you are unworthy to serve and honor God or that you can ever change. You canít be forgiven; you have gone too far; you have crossed the line, beyond hope and grace. Maybe God can forgive others, but certainly not you. You might as well continue in your sin, but these are all lies. The way you resist Him is to remind yourself that he is real and that he does want to destroy you and rob you of the peace and new life that God wants you to have. Thatís why just about every New Testament book mentions him and warns us to be aware of his schemes. (cp. Lordís prayer Matt. 6, Paul in 2 Cor. 2; 11; Eph. 6:10ff; Peter in 1 Peter 5:8) You resist him when you pray against him and embrace the truth (John 8:32)
  7. Rest in the Truth of Godís Word and not your feelings. I have from my heart followed Godís prescription and based on the authority of His Word and not my feelings, I am not condemned, Jesus paid it all, I am forgiven, I am clean in Godís eyes, I am set apart for God, I have Jesusí imputed righteousness given to me. I am a child of the King. Take a close look at 1 John 1:8-2:2. "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. 2 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world (He appeased Godís justice for all of us).
  8. Recite a Prayer of Thankfulness every day. That is when you pray, or everyday when you meet the new day, pause and thank God for His forgiveness. "God I am so grateful that my sins are forgiven, thank you for grace, thank you for the cross, thank you for the price you paid for me." (Psalm 103:1-3; Matt. 6:13: 1 Chron. 29:11; Ps. 32:1-2)
  9. Replace Negative Thoughts with Positive Ones. You do this by listening to and or singing worship songs or hymns like Jesus Paid all, and The Old Rugged Cross and Iím Forgiven, or Amazing Grace. (Phil. 4:8-10; Ephesians 5:18ff.) Then, by memorizing and repeating Godís promises, like 2 Cor. 5:17, "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have passed away, behold all things become new." Jesus has made me free and I am free indeed (John 8:32). He is with me and will never leave me nor forsake me! God will even use this thing for my good and His glory! I am clean, forgiven, and Jesus is my defense attorney. I can teach others from this experience (Ps. 51:13).
  10. Repeat Godís Grace to others. (step 11-12) When Jesus healed the demoniac in Luke 8:39- He told him to, "Return to your own house and tell what Great things God has done for you." (Cp. Luke 24:45-48) And Pay it forward. This will be our sermon for next week.

David did these things and found peace and forgiveness as a God follower who messed up; so did Peter, so did I, and you can to, because your Father loves you and like the Father of that young man whose story is in Luke 15, He is just waiting to throw a party and say welcome home, all is forgiven.

Does that mean that all the consequences will go away? Sadly, No, they will remain, but there is grace that is greater than all our sin and He is waiting for you to get yours. Arenít you ready to start fresh and clean?

Maybe you need to receive Jesus and His saving and forgiving grace today.

Numbers 6:24-26 "The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace."

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman