The difference was stark: thousands of years of religious pagan darkness withering under the illuminating Light of The Living God’s Gospel of Grace!
(This is Part Three of a series on guilt. Part One discussed legal guilt. Part Two discussed social and religious guilt in contrast to the guilt-free Gospel of Grace as taught in the Bible. In this article we’ll survey from an historical perspective the ongoing war between religion and the Biblical Christian Faith.)
“So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her seed, who are keeping the commandments of God and have the Witness of Jesus Christ.” – Revelation 12:17
How do you fight a faith that frees people from their fear of judgement, and therefore their fear of death? You can’t. At best, if you can kill the last Christian, you can stop the viral spread of Hope…if. The problem was that as pagans watched Christians die, they found themselves craving what the Christians possessed: Peace! Peace that was free of fear, anger, bitterness and regret. Who could resist such a treasure? Not many.
And so Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire and eventually found itself in the Emperor’s own household.
Unfortunately, though Christianity was impervious to attacks from without, handling subversion from within posed new challenges.
When Christianity became the “state religion” (here we go) under the Roman Emperor Constantine, pagans were required (or at the least, aggressively encouraged) to swear fealty to the Emperor’s new-found “faith.” As more unconverted pagans sat side-by-side with the Christians, they brought with them their old, time-worn religious ideas. Somewhat surprised and overwhelmed by this “fortunate” turn of events, Christians were cajoled and persuaded to compromise essential fundamentals of the freedoms they had in Christ in order to appear “receptive” to the presence of their new pagan “converts.”
And so, for the next 1500 years, with each successive generation, the wrestling for the central truths of the primitive Christian Faith have continued between the “wheat” (those who understand The Original Gospel and have the Holy Spirit of Christ in their hearts) and the “tares” (those who profess they are Christians, but are not) that sit side-by-side in today’s Christendom (Matthew 13:24-30).
Which brings us to this very moment in time, dear Reader! For you see, the ongoing debate regarding the role the Law (of God) plays in Salvation and the disposition of human guilt is only resolved in the Person of Jesus Christ Himself.
“And the testimony is this, that God has given us Eternal Life, and this Life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the Life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the Life.” – 1st John 5:11,12
I have not forgotten that the topic of this series is guilt.
Because Jesus never sinned the Law (human or Divine) doesn’t apply to Him! The Law cannot accuse the One Who wrote it, nor can the Law accuse the One Who has never broken it! Both of these scenarios applies to Jesus Who, as the Word of God, spoke the Law from Mount Sinai and as the Messiah (having the very Nature of Deity) exceeded the demands of the Law in all respects.
Point of Fact: Jesus Christ not only met the demands of God’s Law, HE TRANSCENDED AND EXCEEDED THEM COMPLETELY!
Jesus is not equal to the Law of God, but is COMPLETELY SUPERIOR TO THE LAW. This is critical to a full understanding of The Gospel and where I’m taking you; stay with me…
Through The Cross Jesus COMPLETELY SATISFIED the demands of God’s Justice against sinners. Every sin committed by every human being FROM THE BEGINNING OF TIME TO THE END OF TIME was atoned for–even for those who would not accept God’s Offer of Amnesty, The Gospel (1st John 2:2).
Point of Fact: If all Sin was atoned for, then THERE IS NO MORE SIN.
Here’s where your imagination becomes critical. Every sinner that RECEIVES Christ is given the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9). Every sinner that has the Spirit of Christ IS NO LONGER A SINNER BUT A SAINT (Romans 8:16,17)…a joint-heir with Christ of God’s Kingdom. Every saint is then PLACED IN the Body of Christ (1st Corinthians 12:12-27).
The only way one could have the Holy Spirit of Christ/God and be placed in the Body of Jesus is if they were SINLESS before God…and guilt-free!
“I don’t feel sinless–or guiltless, for that matter.”
How you feel is irrelevant. Your confidence (faith) is based on what God’s Word (the Bible) says…not how you feel.
“What about 1st John 1:8 that says ‘If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us?'”
Stay in context; read the entire passage:
“This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” – 1st John 1:5-10
The “Light” here refers to God’s Saving Grace; the darkness refers to any other means by which humans seek acceptance from God. Grace means God treats me IN THE SAME WAY HE TREATS CHRIST, based on His Eternal Relationship with Christ and Christ’s Undisputed Righteousness, not my performance as a sinner (or a saint, for that matter). The error John is speaking against comes from those who considered themselves good Jews that believed (because of their bloodline as descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob [Israel]) that they were already accepted by God and that faith in Jesus as Messiah was just another star to add to their crown. In their hearts they didn’t really believe that they NEEDED Jesus to be saved, but were trusting in their pedigree and obedience to the Law of Moses. Paul attacks this idea in Romans Chapters Two and Three (Romans 2:17-3:20) as well as his letter to the Galatians.
“So what do I do with my guilt?”
We will answer that question in Part 4.