Tag Archives: awareness

What Would Be a Healthy Response to My Guilt Over Past Sins?

As you look back, you are filled with guilt and remorse over the sin you committed, either as an unbeliever or a backslidden or immature Christian. It’s important to remember that your sin and backsliding or immaturity isn’t unique. Israel as a nation was often unfaithful to her covenant relationship with Jehovah. Peter denied the Lord, wept bitterly, and later was publicly restored (Matthew 26:69-75; John 21). The Lord also reproached the believers in Ephesus because they had left their first love, and He urged them to “remember,” “repent,” and “return” (Revelation 2:1-7).

Even though the Bible tells us we receive a new life when we believe, we are still influenced by the “flesh,” the “law of sin” within us (Romans 7). The old nature is still part of us and continues to affect us (1 Corinthians 3:1-3; Ephesians 4:22).

I am a pastor’s son, but I never experienced genuine conversion until I was in my mid-20s. By that time I had already attended a year of seminary. I have many regrets that deeply trouble me. The more spiritual vision we gain, the more we sorrow over the wrongs we’ve done.

Accordingly, there are three facts I’d like you to consider:

First, I doubt that anything you did was worse than the things committed by two of the greatest men of faith, David and Paul. David not only committed adultery, but had a good man killed to conceal his sin. Paul persecuted and murdered Christians. Yet both Paul and David were forgiven, though their past sins caused them legitimate sorrow. Our salvation has nothing to do with the extent of our past sins. It is entirely based on the infinite suffering of the Son of God himself, who fully and willingly bore the consequences of all our evil.

Second, sorrow over past sins has an important function. It softens the heart and engenders humility and compassion, qualities essential to the work of the kingdom. Consider the words of the prophet Ezekiel:

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26 KJV).

All of us need to realize the fools we were before we were willing to surrender our hearts to the Lord.

Third, don’t overlook the power of God’s grace. Even if we can’t repair the damage we have caused, God is able to bring healing and restoration in ways that would be impossible for us to anticipate. We can still pray for the healing and restoration of those we’ve injured.

Remember the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). God is always ready to welcome us as long as we are willing to humble ourselves and turn towards home.

 

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Why Should I Get Involved in the Imperfect Church?

Selfishness, hypocrisy, and other “people problems” in church can be discouraging. But selfishness and hypocrisy shouldn’t drive us away from church involvement. Rather, it should make us aware of how much we all need it!

As children, we grow up in a world governed by adult authority figures who appear all-knowing, just, and wise. But as we approach adulthood, we learn how flawed and imperfect adult authority is. This awareness creates disillusionment, some of it painful. Disillusionment often turns into rebellion. As teenagers, most of us rebel to one degree or another against adults we perceive as arbitrary and unloving.

If we are fortunate enough to have loving parents, we are encouraged to “work through” our rebellion and anger. As we gradually mature into adulthood, we become aware of our own imperfections and conflicting ideals. This awareness of our own imperfection usually has the effect of humbling us, making us more realistic, and changing our rebellion into understanding and forgiveness.

Organizations, whether secular or religious, are made up of imperfect people. As adults we sometimes continue to expect perfection from organizations long after we have stopped expecting it from other individuals or ourselves. But just as teenagers grow into adults,Christians mature in their relationship with Christ. As we mature, we begin to discover how much we owe to God’s grace and how little we earn through our own efforts. This makes it easier to see how God is able to use His church, which, like us, can serve as an instrument of divine grace in spite of imperfection and sin.

Sinful individuals or a sinful church can’t produce lasting effects for the kingdom of God, but the power of God’s Spirit working through them can! ( 2 Corinthians 4:7 ). As Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” ( Mark 2:15-17 ). If we were all perfect we wouldn’t need the church. It is our imperfection that calls for the purifying process of membership in the body of Christ. Our mission is to love each other ( 1 Peter 4:8 ) in such a way that we gain the spiritual strength that can only be developed in union with other believers ( Ephesians 4:14-16 ).

We shouldn’t overlook the hypocrisy and problems that exist in the church. We need to do what we can to confront and deal with them in loving ways. The apostle Paul was probably as aware of hypocrisy and imperfection within the church as anyone who ever lived, yet he wrote:

Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load (Galatians 6:2-5).

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