Monday, July 1, 2013

Monday's Resolution {On Guilt and Duty}

We are picking apart Jonathan Edward's 70 Resolutions, one week and one resolution at a time. Don't forget to start where he did- "Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat Him by His grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to His will, for Christ's sake."

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35. Resolved, whenever I so much question whether I have done my duty, as that my quiet and calm is thereby disturbed, to set it down, and also how the question was resolved. 

I have a funny relationship with guilt. Frequently, when I doubt my being in the right, or feel as if I haven't done what I ought to have done, I wrongly do one of two things. Either I unload my guilty conscience before my husband or another close friend, hoping they will tell me I am just fine; or I stuff it down and try to ignore it. 

These are my wrong responses to personal guilt- seeking to be justified by myself or others.

Guilt is an unfortunate part of life in a fallen world. As sinners, we all stand guilty before God. But as Christians, we also know God's forgiveness of our guilt because of Christ's work on our behalf. 

What would a righteous response to guilt look like?

First, I think we ought to ask ourselves if the feeling of guilt is legitimate. Whenever Edwards' peace was disturbed by wondering if he had done what he ought to, he resolved to examine it genuinely and thoroughly. Am I feeling guilty because of personal sin? Have I legitimately neglected something I ought to have done?

If the answer is yes, it is time to confess and repent. We must acknowledge our guilt before God, ask for His forgiveness, and endeavor after new obedience in this area.

Sometimes the answer is no, however. It is easy to feel guilty because we haven't met someone else's expectations of us, or we didn't please everyone, or because we placed an unrealistic amount of expectations upon ourselves. If this is the case, we need to acknowledge it as false and unnecessary guilt, and move forward in the freedom Christ has secured for us.

We must remember that Christ covers all of our guilt! Because of Him, we can walk in freedom from guilt. Yes, I am a very guilty sinner. But my sin has been nailed to the cross, and my God has clothed me in the perfect robes of His Son's righteousness. Any remaining guilt I feel after genuine repentance is doubting God's promises to me and love for me. 

Today, I want to do my duty. To walk in obedience before God and faithfully follow His calling on my life. Yes, I will fail to do everything I ought to in the way I ought to. Yes, sometimes my calm and quiet will be disturbed by guilt over my failures. When this guilt arises, it is time for honest examination and repentance. After the examining however, in Christ I go out free. 

“[T]hough conscience weighs us down and tells us God is angry, yet God is greater than our hearts. The conscience is but one drop; the reconciled God is an ocean of consolation…” 
-Martin Luther

Today and all week, may you enjoy the "ocean of consolation" found in being reconciled from guilt to God! Amen?

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