Written by Mark Cares
I have often wondered if guilt is a God-pleasing emotion for a believer.
Let me explain. I’m using the word “guilt” very specifically and distinguishing it from sorrow over sin. Feeling sorry when I sin comes naturally and is healthy. In fact, something is wrong with me when that doesn’t happen. After all, I have disobeyed and failed the Lord who has done so much for me.
But should I feel guilty? One dictionary defines guilty as “culpable of or responsible for a specified wrongdoing.” Culpable is further defined as “deserving blame.”
It’s significant that the main message of the Bible is that, through Christ, we are not guilty. The wonderful biblical term justify literally means to declare someone righteous or innocent. Approximately 180 times the Bible describes believers as the “righteous,” or the innocent!
In addition, there are wonderful Bible passages which tell us there is no condemnation for believers. (See, for example, Romans 8:1 and John 3:18.) And then there is Romans 4:25: “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” In other words, Jesus was raised from the dead because God declared us not guilty, because he acquitted us.
Easter is God’s dramatic declaration that he had so fully accepted Jesus’ payment for our sins that he formally and legally declared us not guilty. Easter means God sees us as guilt-free.
Therefore, one of the best ways we can glorify God is to act like defendants who have just been acquitted! “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).
On the other hand, think of the message we send God when we remain burdened with guilt. That casts doubt on Jesus’ sacrifice and God’s justification. I can just picture God taking us by the shoulders and shaking us. “Didn’t you hear the verdict I have already pronounced? You are not guilty! Act like it!”
As you again visit Jesus’ empty tomb, picture yourself in God’s courtroom as he pounds his gavel while pronouncing you “not guilty.” Think of the relief and utter joy this would trigger. But this isn’t a dream. It’s reality. It’s the gospel truth. Easter means God sees us as guilt – free.
Celebrate Easter by being guilt-free – every day of your life.