DayBreaks for 11/04/19: Cheap Guilt
From the DayBreaks archive, November 2009:
It was, I believe, Deitrich Bonhoeffer who originated the phrase “cheap grace” to describe the attitude of the heart that cheapens what was necessary for us to receive forgiveness and salvation. There were some who would say, even in Biblical times, that we should “sin that grace may abound” (Romans 6:1). Such are purveyors of the doctrine of cheap grace. We are reminded that we were saved not with the blood of bulls and goats, but the blood of the very Son of God (1 Pet. 1:19). There’s nothing cheap about that, nor about the sheer volume of grace that flows through Calvary from the throne of God!
But cheap guilt? Is there such a thing? In The Gospel According to Job, Mike Mason makes an argument for why he believes such a thing does exist: “But guilt too can become cheap. Cheap guilt enervates and paralyzes. Like a giant leech it latches onto the conscience and saps all the dignity and vitality out of it. True contrition, on the other hand, purifies the conscience, bathing it as in tears even while energizing it with the vision and the power for positive change.”
If I had a nickel for every person and every time that someone said to me that they feel like giving up because of their sin and shame and guilt (suspecting that those things add up to too tall of a pile for God to deal with in His grace), I’d own the L. A. Dodgers! I can’t honestly say that I’ve ever felt so guilty that I felt like just giving up this relationship with Christ. That could be because I am in denial about the depth of my sin, or it could be because I understand that I’ve been washed in the blood of Christ and touched by His grace – and that God’s grace is far greater than any guilt I may carry.
Guilt is a crushing burden to haul around on our backs. That’s why Jesus carried all our guilt and shame on his back to the cross – so we wouldn’t have to carry it anywhere ever again. Hebrews 10:1-2 (NLT) says: The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. Don’t miss the point of this argument: the old law couldn’t take away sin (“provided perfect cleansing”, vs. 2), but the sacrifice of Jesus which has purified believers “once for all time” (Heb. 10:10) allows “their feelings of guilt” to disappear. But we have to accept by faith (even if we can’t understand with our minds and hearts that it is so) that we have perfect cleansing and our feelings of guilt should have disappeared.
Have you still been toting a knapsack full of guilt on your back? It may be because you are victim of “cheap guilt”, letting it paralyze you instead of knowing that your guilt has been removed and that you are freed from guilt for all time. We must not confuse conviction of wrong-doing in our lives by the work of the Holy Spirit with guilt. One is positive and leads to repentance and restoration…the other leads to the pit.
PRAYER: Make us sensitive to our sin in a way that leads us to repentance, Lord, not to guilt that you died to take away from us! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>