Surrendered to God’s Grace

“The eyes of both of them were opened” Genesis 3:7

This is the first time any person ever felt guilt. Adam and Eve’s attempt to cover their guilt was futile. Covering for guilt and the ultimate removal of guilt would require the death of a substitute. Guilt caused them to flee God’s presence instead of coming to Him. Guilt still does this to those who are yet to be forgiven. Those who most vehemently oppose God are the one’s sensing guilt the strongest. Their sin is against God and only He can forgive their sin. To remain just, a satisfactory substitute would have to die. Adam had brought about a fundamental change in his being which must die. Only a new creation could allow him into God’s presence again.

With the guilt came conviction of sin for which Adam and Eve had no remedy but to flee God’s presence. This did nothing to diminish the conviction or remove guilt. Instead of desiring God’s presence they wanted to hide from Him. People who have believed Satan’s lie still prefer to hide from God.

We observe here that God pursued Adam and Eve until He caught up with them. He then gave them opportunity to have a change of heart which they eventually accepted. First they played the blame game. Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent but in reality they were both blaming God. This characteristic of fallen people can be readily observed in all spheres of society throughout history and is still very evident today. It is, we accuse, always someone else’s fault!

When they eventually surrendered to the grace of God, God clothed them in animal skins thus picturing the means by which they and all who choose to believe what God has said will be saved. God is still in pursuit of people but sadly most will not heed His words of love, grace and forgiveness. Don’t be among them but be among those who humbly acknowledge their sin against God, turn to face Him and receive His gift of forgiveness. Paul wrote, “The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

One who has received the gift of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ will not run away from God when they sin. Having experienced His forgiveness before, they will return to Him whenever they are aware of sin (1 John 1:9). This is a mark of one who has truly chosen to reject Satan’s lie and believe what God has said.

No Fear in Meeting God

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” Hebrews 10:31

Like all verses in the Bible it is important to understand the context and not assume a context. The immediate context is the quotes from Deuteronomy, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay” and “The Lord will judge His people” but the broader context of chapters nine and ten is a comparison between the temple sacrifices and Christ’s sacrifice of Himself.

We are discovering that many people groups have stories of a great flood and the survival of just a few ancestors in a vessel of some sort. We also have in many people groups the practice of offering blood sacrifices to appease their god. It would seem that both these have their origin in Noah and the ark. When Noah emerged from the ark he offered blood sacrifices (Genesis 8:20-21).

The law given through Moses also required sacrifices but the writer of Hebrews affirms that such sacrifices did nothing to turn away God’s wrath for sin. They were but shadows (Hebrews 8:5; 10:1). If I promised a new car to my son and only gave him a photograph of that car he would be disappointed. The photograph is useless for the function of a car. It may be cheap but it won’t take him anywhere. Likewise, shadows have no substance. They promise but do not deliver. Jesus Christ is the only sacrifice for sin and all others are mere shadows or representations to point to Him. Anyone holding onto the shadow is the subject of verse 31 quoted above.

Jesus Christ offered Himself “once to bear the sins of many” (9:28; 10:10, 12, 13) so any continuance in offering the shadow is to say that Christ’s death is insufficient or inadequate. It would also deny all the attestations of God that He is the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” In essence they are trampling the Son of God underfoot, counting the blood of the covenant a common thing and insulting the Spirit of grace (Hebrews 10:29). Not surprisingly, they have a fearful expectation.

We may also fall into this trap if we are not careful. It is possible that we may be offering sacrifices of service or money with a wrong motive. We read, “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God … for by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified” (10:12, 14). When we offer service or money from the motive that seeks removal of guilt or to gain God’s favour we deny the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice. By doing so we call God a liar and no believer would want to do that.

Rather, we are not among those who are in fear of meeting our God, we are “those who eagerly wait for Him” for His second appearing “apart from sin, for salvation” (9:28).

Free From Guilt

“You meant it for evil against me, but God meant it for good” Genesis 50:20

The pangs of guilt will hang on indefinitely unless dealt with in the God-given way. Like a whale must surface to breathe they keep on re-surfacing at unexpected times throughout our lives until “killed.”

When Joseph’s brothers travelled to Egypt twenty years after they had sold him to slave traders they were still sensitive to the guilt of their sin. When Joseph (whom they did not recognise) questioned their honesty and accused them of being spies they immediately remembered their guilt for selling Joseph (Genesis 42:21). The memory and guilt were still as fresh as the day it happened. Worse, they believed that it had meant the death of Joseph (v 22) and that it was God who was punishing them for their sinful act (v 28).

It would appear that Joseph’s intent was to bring his brothers to the place of repentance from which they would seek forgiveness from God and himself. Joseph knew that this was the only way his brothers could be released from the pain of guilt. Though they had hurt him deeply he still sought their freedom from that guilt. This is evidence of a man after God’s own heart. A sinful man would seek revenge on those who had done him harm.

Joseph knew that God would forgive them if only they would humble themselves and ask. He also knew that he had already forgiven his brothers and had seen God’s hand in all that had happened (45:5-8; 50:20).

We will try all sorts of ways to get rid of guilt except repenting of it and asking God’s forgiveness and all we succeed in doing is suppressing it until it surfaces again. When it emerges again it is all the stronger having been nourished by our pride and stubbornness. In old age it will manifest itself in bitterness, anger, selfishness and intolerance, to name a few manifestations, unless it is done away with through confession and forgiveness.

There is only one way to be rid of guilt and it is not by suppressing it. It is by coming to and seeking forgiveness from the One against whom we have sinned. Jesus dealt with our sin on Calvary’s cross where He died for the sin of the whole world. Therefore God is justified in forgiving our sin when we come in repentance and ask.

“If we confess our sins, He faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). This requires naming the specific sin, agreeing that it is sin and believing that Jesus Christ bore that sin on the cross. When we accept that forgiveness as a gift from God through Jesus Christ we will experience the joy that comes with being free from guilt.

The commencement of a new year is often a time when people reflect. If you find guilt resurfacing as you reflect do not suppress or ignore it. Seek forgiveness firstly from God for He will surely give it for Jesus’ sake. If you have sinned against or wronged another person do all you can to restore that relationship. Time does not heal guilt. Only God’s forgiveness removes guilt and He is able to do so because Jesus died for our sins.

No Debate

“Your nakedness shall be uncovered, yes, your shame will be seen; I will take vengeance, and I will not arbitrate with a man.” Isaiah 47:3

It appears that many people think that God is much like our legal system that can be moved to give puny sentences, even for fairly serious criminal offences, or even be given what amounts to a non-sentence – a “good behaviour” bond.

After being found guilty of a crime lawyers do their best to get their client off the hook so far as penalty is concerned. They may claim it is someone else’s fault or the result of unexpected circumstances. They may try and shift the blame to society, to parents, to friends or just being with the wrong crowd; anything in an attempt to reduce their client’s responsibility. An appeal that it is “out of character” is always false. We all act according to our character. An offender may come to court with an outward appeal that is unrecognisable to their friends. A new suite, neat hair and groomed in all outward appearance including body attitude and facial expression; anything that gives an appearance of righteousness is appropriated.

Anyone who thinks that God can be fooled by this hypocrisy will be bitterly disappointed. The unforgiven sinner who appears before Him will be wholly exposed as to his guilt as one naked before God. There will be no hiding behind the excuses that one may use in an earthly court and no one will be cleared by blaming the devil. He did not make them do it.

Isaiah 47:4 reminds us that God is holy and is therefore unable to allow sin in His presence. This is the basis of God’s judgment. He is holy, He is sinless and totally without corruption.

Anyone who thinks they will be able to debate or argue with God with regard to entrance into His kingdom is grievously mistaken. He says that He “will not arbitrate with a man.” Each person will have to accept responsibility for their own choices and actions. They will not be able to shift blame and they will be held accountable.

But there is good news! Christ Jesus died for our sin! Paul writes, “The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). We cannot gain eternal life or entrance into heaven by attempting to mitigate our culpability or reduce the penalty for sin. God will not arbitrate. However, we may gain eternal life and heaven as a gift but that gift is bound up in Jesus Christ. John writes, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe on His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (1:12, 13). Later John wrote, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

If we try and debate with God about our sin He will not hear or participate. He knows all there is to know and He judges with perfect justice. However if we agree with His judgment of our sin and the due penalty He pleads with us to ask Him to forgive us our sin as a gift; the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.