Friday, April 20, 2012

Not Guilty

This post is something that has been in the back of my mind since February. I suppose in my aging it takes me longer to process things and then actually write them. My mind and my fingers don't always work at the same time these days.
If you read the One Year Bible (OYB) then you know back in February we were reading through Leviticus. Now, I will be the first to admit that I am one that finds it easy to skim over things at times. Yet, I have really purposed in my heart this year to read details. I know there has to be a reason why the Lord put each word in the Bible and it's kind of rude of me not to read them! Can I blame it on having to take a Speed Reading class in High School-you know the class where you learn how to skim over the page and just pick out the highlights!!
One of the interesting things is how many versions of the Bible we have nowadays. My normal study bible is NKJV, but I enjoy reading NLT and of course the OYB is NIV.
Back in February, while reading Leviticus 7, I kept noticing it talked about the sin offering and the guilt offering. After looking at other versions of the same verses, I realized that the term 'guilt offering' wasn't used-I only found it in the NIV. Now, there are always people who spend their time arguing over different versions of the Bible and there are some legitimate arguments. However, I do believe that because God is God, He can speak to us through anything.
Here was this phrase 'guilt offering'. It got me to thinking. I thought how many of us (at least I think there are many of us) would still like it if there were a 'guilt offering'.
Years ago, while still living in Vista, I remember Pastor Rob teaching and saying how many people are in institutions because unforgiveness or guilt turned them into a different person-someone not able to cope with reality.
Most of us, especially we women, are doers. We like to do things, we feel productive when we are busy and doing something. We complain about how much we have to do but I think deep inside it gives us a feeling of satisfaction, a sense of usefulness. Many of us enjoy knowing that something has been accomplished and we played a role in the accomplishing.
As Christians, we profess and believe in the finished work of the cross. Jesus, as He hung upon the cross said "It is finished" Nothing more needed to be done for the atonement of sin. The spotless Lamb paid the punishment for all of our sin. What was left was for each person to choose whether or not we would put our faith in that finished work.
Whenever it was for each of us in our lives to make that decision, we realized that we were in fact forgiven. We were cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. We learned through verses like 1 John 1:9 that when we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us. What a sense of joy, a feeling of relief-knowing that we are forgiven.
Yet, I couldn't help but think about guilt. Maybe I am the only one, I don't know, but guilt is difficult to get rid of. I also believe it is something the enemy loves to throw back in our face-to get us to doubt the forgiveness of God. How can it be that one moment we rejoice when reading 'as far as the east is from the west, so far He has removed our transgressions from us'. Psalm 103:12. How is it that verses such as those can bring such comfort one minute and then some time later this overwhelming flow of guilt comes in about something we have already confessed.
Then, when reading Leviticus 7, even though the phrase 'guilt offering' is in NIV version-it popped out to me in a tremendous way. Oh, I thought, how good it would be to have a guilt offering even now. How much easier would it be to physically offer something-to do something to take away the guilt.
You know, some religions have you 'do something' as contrition. A lot of Christians point their noses down at this, and yet, I believe that there are many Christians who try 'to do' something to get rid of their guilt. 'Oh God, I am going to read this many pages in my bible today, I am going to perform this duty today'. We want to do things to try and make up for the bad we did. We want to make ourselves feel like we did something to make it all better. A guilt offering...yes, Lord-if I could just bring something to be sacrificed, watch with my own two eyes that it was indeed used to atone for my guilt, it would make life so much easier. I could sleep better, I wouldn't be haunted by memories of what I did wrong, I wouldn't have to wonder if I was really and truly forgiven because after all, I saw the smoke, I saw the offering for my guilt.
Ah, but we are called to walk by faith and not by sight! We are called to put our faith in the finished work of Christ, His forgiveness. He whom the Son has set free is free indeed!! Why are those verses so difficult to trust in at times?
I think of Thomas and how he wanted to touch and see before he could believe it was Jesus. Again, it's easy as Christians to look down at someone like this-but if we are honest, how much better would it be to tangibly touch something-God gave us senses...touch, smell, taste, sight...we were made to use them. But, there are those times when we have to put those aside and have faith. Have faith in what Jesus did and continues to do.
Conviction? Yes! Condemnation......NO!!! Consequences? Yes!! Guilt.....NO!!!! We need to learn not to entertain thoughts of guilt for something that we have confessed to the Lord.
I listened to a teaching once about Peter and the rooster crowing. The pastor brought up something I hadn't thought about before-but think about it for a minute. For the rest of his life, Peter would hear a rooster crow. Probably every morning, wherever he was, there was a rooster crowing. Peter could have been crippled by guilt. Hearing that rooster undoubtedly was a reminder of his denying Christ. Peter could have spent the rest of his life in a corner crying and feeling sorry for himself for what he did. But he didn't. He allowed himself to be restored by the Lord. He allowed the blood of Christ to cleanse him from all unrighteousness, all guilt and he was used mightily by God.
Faith is not something we can see with our eyes-it's something we have to believe in. We cannot 'see with our eyes' that our guilt has been washed away, we have to believe it. We have to believe the words of Jesus when He said 'It is finished'. And, in believing, we learn to walk in that forgiveness, we learn, like Peter, that though we have sinned, though we have often times grieved the Lord and probably others, we can be forgiven, we can be restored. Is there a rooster crowing each day that reminds you of something you would like to forget? Give it to the Lord! You have been cleansed, you have been forgiven, allow Him to set you free and walk in that forgiveness, walk in that restoration!! There is no longer a need for sin offering or guilt offering. It is finished!!!