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The Guilt You Can't Wish Away Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
December 1, 2022 1:00 am

The Guilt You Can't Wish Away Part 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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December 1, 2022 1:00 am

Many of us carry a low-grade sense of self-hatred and disdain from our guilt. How do we distinguish between conviction and condemnation? In this message, we find four keys that unlock our prison of guilt. Even when guilt looms over us, God’s forgiveness declares freedom. 

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Maybe you've stolen money, had an affair, or even gotten away with a serious felony.

Life is closing in on you. No peace, no future hope. Today, the key to freedom from guilt and forgiveness from the God who can bestow it as a gift.

From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, if we understand the gift of righteousness Jesus can provide, how do we deal with the lingering guilt that remains, especially if the consequences of our sin are still with us? Dave, what we have to do is actually separate our guilt and what we have done from the consequences. For example, when David repented in Psalm 51, he knew that he could never undo the damage that his sin had caused.

Family destroyed, basically kingdom in disarray, but yet he said, restore to me the joy of thy salvation. That's why this message is so incredibly important. Now to everyone who is listening, I wish that you were in the studio here with me because I am holding a book entitled Have You Considered? Evidence Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. This is a remarkable book, 365 pages, one for every day of the year, written from the standpoint of creation, dealing with issues such as biology, geology, cosmology, all with colored illustrations. What an opportunity for you to give your children a scientific education that is interesting and illustrated. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. A Christian is a sinner clothed in the righteousness of Christ, standing in rich garments, it says here. The idea actually is festal robes, beautiful garments, holy garments, acceptable garments to the angel of the Lord, garments that are completely acceptable to God. The Jesus who would die on the cross centuries later would purchase for Joshua these garments. You say, well, how could this be already in Old Testament times? Well, the Old Testament saints were saved on credit. You know what it's like to buy something on credit.

Some of you who know something about what it's like to buy an item of furniture on credit, you wish you never heard of the practice, but that's the way it was. Because Jesus was looking through the corridors of time and knowing that he would die, he says, I'm redeeming people already based on the payment that I will make. And so Joshua, come here. I clothe you in pure garments so that you can stand before me without embarrassment, without any sense of humiliation and without wanting to run away. The garments that I have given you, not just your old garments made clean, but brand new ones. And now the issue wasn't really how dirty Joshua's garments are because I'm sure that there were people in his day whose garments would have been dirtier than his, but that was not really the issue.

The issue is the beauty and the wonder and the completeness of the garments that he received as a gift from the angel of the Lord, from Jesus himself. Now there's a third participant in this vision, and that of course is Satan, the adversary. Let me reread part of verse one. Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.

Follow carefully. What is supposed to be portrayed as reconciliation between a sinner and God, Satan now interjects something else and he tries to divide God and the sinner through his accusations. And so he's standing there at his right hand to accuse, to accuse. We have to pause here.

Let's not hurry over this. Who is it that's making the accusations? The accusations, are they being made by someone who himself is very pure and therefore has a right to talk?

Not quite. We're talking about someone who is the embodiment of evil, someone who loves evil. If Joshua is filthy, Satan is filthier still. If Joshua is unclean, Satan is more unclean. He is the essence of uncleanness.

There is no righteousness in him at all. And he's the one, he's the one who's making the accusations. It's not just that he's unclean, but also he's the one who instigates sin. He's the one who leads us into temptation. And after we have been led into temptation and we have sinned, he's the one there to accuse us and to tell us what big sinners we are and why we should run from God rather than toward him. He's there doing that. He's like a firebug that is also a firefighter. So he's constantly being sent to his own fires that he begins. And when he's there, he's there to accuse.

Look at that, you sinner. What is he saying? Well, from other passages of the Bible, we can put it together. So far as to us, he is speaking and he speaks through feelings and not just words. Remember that he speaks through feelings and not just words. And he says this to us.

So, so you're a believer. Look at what you've done. Don't you see how filthy you really are? If you really understood the full import of how filthy you were, you would know that there's no way for God to really forgive you. And you say that you have garments of righteousness, but just look at your heart.

Do you remember what you did in the past? And if you don't remember, I'll help you to remember because you have to be locked into your sin. Don't you ever think your conscience can be free when your conscience tells you to pay up.

There is no way for you to do it. Run from God because he's mad at you. That's what he's saying to us. To God, he has a different story. To God, he comes and says, now, wait a moment. Look at this sinner. If you allow him into heaven, if you allow him to have fellowship with you, you're going to disgrace your name. Your name is going to be disgraced because, you know, you say that you are holy. You say that your courts are holy.

And here you would have fellowship with people who are going to defile your courts. What kind of a God is that to associate with sinners and to have friends among those who have sinned just as greatly as I have, the devil says. Well, praise God. The Bible says in verse two, the Lord rebuke you, Satan. The Lord rebuke you, Satan.

The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem. Joshua is a brand plucked from the burning, but so are all of us. And you be quiet because my reputation is not going to be impugned. And the reason it's not going to be impugned is because I am giving these filthy people garments of righteousness by which they can approach me with complete holiness and have an entry point into my presence because I have clothed them with that which I accept, namely garments that have been woven by my precious son.

Be quiet, devil. What I'd like to do now is to give you four life transforming lessons. If we could learn these lessons, we could walk out of here free. And if not today, at least we could seek God this afternoon and be free by tonight. That's how important these are. Are you ready for the lessons?

I am. Number one, we must distinguish between the conviction of the Spirit and the accusations of the devil. We have to learn how to do that because if you don't, what if Joshua had stood there and what if the angel had not been there to rebuke him and Joshua would have taken all the things that the devil said to him as being true and honest and completely right.

And there he is being lacerated by the evil one and he'd have had to endure all that and slink away in shame and in disgrace. Because you see, there's a part of what the devil says that is right. We are sinners. We are filthy sinners, if I might use the word and not offend your sensibilities, though appeal to your honesty. We are, we are sinners.

So that part is right. But what the devil leaves out is the wonder of God's grace. The issue is not whether or not we're as bad as the devil says we are. The issue is whether or not God is going to treat us as though we are that bad or that God will treat us as a result of what Jesus did as having a righteous standing before him.

That's really the issue. Now here's what happens. Here's a Christian who commits a sin and then he confesses it and feels guilty later. And he says, you know what? I don't think I was sincere.

If I were really sincere, I wouldn't have these memories and these feelings. So the devil is capitalizing on that. So he says, Christian says to himself, this time I'm going to really confess my sin.

I mean, this time I am serious. And so he confesses the same sin. Moments later, he still feels guilty or maybe a day later. And he said, well, you know, I wasn't really sincere the next time I'm really, really, really, really going to mean it. So he goes through the same ritual. And after he really, really, really, really, really means it.

And the next day begins to have memories and feelings. He says to himself, well, you know, God's abandoned me. And he doesn't know that he's been listening to the devil, not the Holy Spirit. See, the Holy Spirit of God points out sin in our life that we might confess it when we receive Christ as savior. We receive the righteous garments that we've been talking about. And legally we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ. But you and I know that as we go through this life, we still get dirty and we still have to confess our sins. But the Bible says that if we confess them, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from each individual unrighteousness. But the devil says that doesn't apply to you.

Thank you. And so as the spirit convicts us and we have repented and confessed, it is then taken up by the devil who points out forgiven sin and begins to harass us over things that God has already put away. And if you don't know the difference, you can be in that quagmire of guilt.

We sometimes call it a bad self image, that low grade sense of self-hatred and disdain. And you'll never get out of it because you're listening to the wrong voice. What we need to be able to do is to say, be gone, devil. I rebuke you in the name of Jesus, who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect. It is God that justifies. Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died.

Yea, rather that is risen again that is even now on the right hand of the throne of God who also make of intercession for us. And my dear friend, please, please don't attack the devil this way. Devil, I'm not as bad as you were saying I am. In fact, I can think of church members who've done a lot worse than I am. I'm not that bad. Don't ever do that. Number one, you probably are that bad.

That'd be one good reason why that doesn't work. But the second reason is he has you for lunch. He has you for lunch and he'll take you for dinner and breakfast the next day. We defeat the devil by saying, okay, I am that bad, but there's my righteousness. There's my garments. Jesus is my garment. Like Martin Luther says, amen, amen. If I may quote Luther who is rather earthy in what he said, oh Jesus, I am thy dung, but thou art my righteousness. I am as bad as Satan may say I am, but today Jesus represents me before the Father. The garments have been placed upon me and I point to those garments and I stand not on the basis of what I've done and what I've not done. I stand on the basis of what Jesus did for me. I rebuke you, Satan, and then you can be free.

Let me give you a second lesson. Guilt should drive us toward God, not away from him. Listen to what Spurgeon, the great 19th century preacher said on this passage.

He says, stand where you are for remember you are standing in the only place where pollution can be washed away. You are standing before the angel of the covenant. It is before Christ that sin is to be confessed. Confess it anywhere else. Your sorrow is not repentance, but remorse. What is remorse? Remorse is repentance made out of the sight of Jesus.

True repentance is sorrow for sin in the presence of Christ. Foul and filthy as you are, there is but one voice that can speak you clean. Do not go away from that voice. There is but one hand which can touch you and make you pure. Stand where that hand is. Stand close there, filthy as your garments are. Shun not the face of your best, your only friend, but breathe out this prayer. Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. Purge me, oh, purge me now for thy love's sake. Run to Christ, not away from him. He's the only one who can purge you.

Go to your best friend. Guilt should drive us to Christ, not away from him. Third lesson. If we cannot forgive ourselves, if we can't forgive ourselves, we are participating in Satan's lies, in Satan's lies. You must forgive yourself.

If God has forgiven you, whose standards are so much higher, then you must forgive yourself and you must give those consequences to God. There was a father who had to take his son to school because his boy missed the bus and the father was very angry. And so as he zoomed down the highway in the truck, he, when he switched lanes, he swerved and the door of the truck flew open and his boy flew out and was hit by an oncoming vehicle and was killed. For the rest of the day, the father cursed himself. He cursed himself as he looked into the mirror.

He cursed himself as he paced the floor. And before the next morning came, he had shot himself with a 44 caliber rifle, 45 caliber rifle because you see his conscience says, pay up, pay up, look at what you've done. And so his executioner came and demanded the ultimate penalty and he paid the penalty that his conscience demanded.

But he would not have had to do that. If standing in the presence of Christ, God were to acquit him of his anger and to say, yes, I sinned because I was angry. I sinned because I swerved. But standing there in the presence of Christ, if God can speak him clean, he can face life even if others do not forgive him, even if there is no resolution of the difficulty. Yes, of course, to live with regrets is one thing, but to live with raw remorse in the presence of Jesus is not necessary. That's why Spurgeon says, remorse is repentance out of the sight of Jesus. Stand at the angel of the covenant. Stand there where you can be cleansed and forgiven and where your conscience can be purified. There's a final lesson, and that is that God honors all whom he forgives. It isn't just a matter of forgiveness. It's honor.

Look at what the text says. It says in verse six, the angel of the Lord, I'm actually ahead of myself. I wanted verse five. Then I said, put a clean turban on his head. So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him while the angel of the Lord stood by. The turban is symbolic now of the festal aspect of Joshua's priestly ministries and notice what it says in verse six. The angel of the Lord gave this charge to Joshua. This is what the Lord God almighty says.

If you will walk in my ways and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts. It's okay, Joshua, for you to walk in my courts where I live and where my presence is as long as you come clothed with the garments that I myself have provided you. God says, come and enjoy our fellowship because I have acquitted you and if God speaks you clean, there's no one in the universe who can declare you to be guilty. And it is God's intention that our consciences be purged. The goal of this series is a conscience void of offense before God and that's what we've been emphasizing in the future messages before man, but it's that we might be pure before God and that demanding conscience might be silence because everything that it has demanded has been paid for in Jesus.

That's why we sing Jesus paid it all. I'm told that in the movie, the Shawshank Redemption, it's the story of prison life in the Northeast in the 1940s. Apparently the film focuses on the journey of two men's hearts through the trials and the temptations of incarceration, what it's like to be in prison. Red, the ringleader and the most seasoned of the prisoners, explains what happens when you live within those walls too long. He says, at first these walls, you hate them. They make you crazy. After a while you get used to them and you don't notice them anymore. And then he says, the day comes when you realize you need them.

Isn't that the way slavery to sin is? First of all, you hate it. You hate the garments that have been soiled by sin. Then you get used to them and you say, well, I'm managing with my guilt. I'm managing. I'm living. I'm going to church.

I'm listening to messages. And then you begin to prefer it and to say, I don't want to deal with these issues. And you begin to prefer it and say, you know, it's manageable.

I prefer it. And then in the end, oh, may it never be. You actually say to yourself, I need, I need these dirty garments because that's who I am. And then you begin to live within those walls and you need them and you end up preferring slavery to freedom. Jesus said, if the sun shall make you clean and free, you shall be free indeed. Free to walk in the courts of the Lord. Free to have fellowship with God. Free to live without the nagging voice that says, pay up, pay up, pay up. Oh, it's been paid.

It's been paid. The terrors of law and of God with me can have nothing to do. My savior's obedience and blood hide all of my sins from view. My name on the palm of his hands, eternity cannot erase. Forever there it stands, a mark of indelible grace.

Let's pray. Our Father, today we want to thank you for this marvelous story. We thank you today for the fact that our dirty garments are taken away and we're clothed in garments that you adore. And we ask today, Father, for those who have never trusted Christ as savior, would you show them the beauty of exchanging their rags and their soiled garments for that which is holy and pure because it's a gift given to those who trust Christ. And for those of us who know you, we pray that we might never soil those beautiful garments.

May we never desire to. We ask that even when we do, we pray that we may be cleansed because we desire the purity that you have made us to be in Jesus. Many, Lord, are struggling with guilt, with a sense of self condemnation. Would you bring to them, Father, would you bring to them that precious gift of freedom because they know that they've been forgiven in Christ? We ask. Amen. Amen. My friend today, if there's anything I'd like to be remembered for, it is simply this, that I loved the gospel and I loved to preach the gospel. Let me ask you another question.

Are you looking for a Christmas gift for your grandchildren, for your children, for young people? I'm holding in my hands a book entitled Have You Considered? The subtitle is Evidence Beyond Reasonable Doubt.

Three hundred and sixty-five days of the year, your children, grandchildren, young people will be blessed with illustrations that are in full color about creationism. Here's what you do. Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Be among the first to have your copy of Have You Considered?, 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. Many who struggle with guilt find it returns to haunt them even after they've sought forgiveness from God. The good news is that God helps us handle sin's consequences once we reckon ourselves clean in His sight through Christ. Next time, more about what God does with forgiven sin. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-01 05:54:45 / 2022-12-01 06:03:29 / 9

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