Recently I was walking down the street and singing the chorus to the song, “Peace Like A River” – ‘it is well with my soul’ – and the Lord by His Spirit had me rejoicing in my spirit and giving thanks to God that it is true: it is well with my soul! And yet, I considered how annoyed and impatient I can be; how I am not considered by others for good works particularly; how I have to fight so many unclean thoughts. So what is it then that I can be singing in truth that it is well with my soul?! It is because Jesus is my guilt (trespass) offering, and I have peace and security in my relationship to God as my Father through Messiah. And if I know that I have acceptance with my Creator and Redeemer, then I can also relate to my brothers and sisters in the Lord, as well as to people still of this world, on the basis of that reality. When my heart condemns me – which it does at times for those very things mentioned above – God is greater than my heart.
The sin offering is primarily for what I am: a sinner by nature, and the Lamb of God has come to take away the sin of the world. The guilt offering is primarily for what I do: I sin and trespass; and the Son of God’s name is Yeshua, who will save His people from their sins.
The Son of God has set us free: free to acknowledge our sins and confess them to God, and at times to one another, because He forgives us – and we are to do likewise to others. There is therefore no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. (Rom 8:1,33) We are free to love others, to do unto them what we would like them to do unto us, even if they do not demonstrate that they love us! If I know in my own spirit that I desire to love God and to be faithful to the New Covenant in Jesus, then my conscience is clear before both God and man, even though Satan accuses me, my wife and friends misunderstand me, and I myself wonder at the grace of God to die for someone as useless as me! (1Jn 3:18-24)
Is there guilt then in the believer’s life? Of course! – whenever we sin knowingly, or whenever the Holy Spirit shows us or reminds us of something we had done unknowingly or unintentionally which was, in fact, a sin – either against our relationship with the Lord directly, or indirectly through another person. If we do not address the matter and either ask forgiveness, or perhaps grant forgiveness to another, then we honestly do our part to accept our responsibility as those who would be in Christ and walking by the Spirit, and not in the flesh.
Last week Lisa was baptized, which is the answer of a good conscience towards God (1Pet 3:21), in that it testifies to the personal belief that Jesus Christ died, and rose from the dead, and ascended to Heaven, where He is both Lord over all and makes intercession for us as our great High Priest. When we truly believe this and walk in this truth, we know that God has justified us through faith and by His Spirit. Guilt and the bondage to fear of judgment are removed, and instead love is perfected. (1Jn 4:17-19)
At the Lord’s Supper we are each to examine and to judge ourselves. If our participation depended on satisfying the demands of someone else’s conscience, or of keeping the commandments of Jesus as if we ourselves were Jesus, then no one could eat God’s own covenant meal that He has Himself invited us to! But when our communion is in the holy and righteous and blessed truth that Jesus is Himself my guilt offering – and when I maintain my relationship with God and my brethren on that basis – then I can rejoice in His joy over someone like me, or like you. Did you know that bread in Hebrew (lechem) has to do with warfare – a conflict and battle for survival, for justification in the eyes of others, for victory over our enemies – real or imagined? In Greek the word for bread (artos) contains the thought of expiation — to lift off and to remove. Is not this the truth of the New Testament fulfilling the hope and promise and struggle of the Old Testament? Jesus has come to give peace to all who put their trust in Him as having been sent from God the Father. He removes the heavy load of our guilt before God and before our fellow man. The victory is His on the cross; it is ours as we, too, deny ourselves each day, take up our cross which He has given to each of us, and follow Him. Allow Him to righteously take away your guilt, and believe God when He says He has!
In Jesus we are NOT GUILTY, but FREE to live for Him!
Make Jesus your guilt offering (Is 53:10-12), and rejoice in the goodness of the LORD! Amen.