Freedom from Guilt!
Propitiation is made
The Salvation Series 2003Part 10
ONE OF THE SWEETEST WORDS in all the New Testament is propitiation—when we discover its meaning. It means restitution is made, recompense is fulfilled, apology is accepted, atonement is complete, a pardon is granted, and guilt is gone. When we understand its meaning, it sounds even sweeter than the words "not guilty" might sound when handed down from a judge in court.
"What relief!" says the accused. "I am free!" Three powerful verses in the King James New Testament use the word propitiation. The word is lost in some other translations, but we will examine these verses and see the importance of what they set forth for these end-time days. Particularly, they deal with our guilt as we find our release into a right standing before God.
· Rom 3:25 (Christ Jesus) Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.
· I John 2:2 And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. · 1 John 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Propitiation is a wonderful word, but there is a mystery about it because it is not an everyday word. Many believers don’t know what it means. It is offered to us freely through the Lord Jesus. It means we can stand free in the presence of God to claim all His love and power offers. Yet, many of us continue with guilt hanging over us. This hinders us in His presence. It robs us of joy, peace, power, provision, and the ability to communicate with Him. And, it cripples us before the enemy—as well as in every human relationship we might have.
Guilt is the single most destructive force to the soul, whether it be guilt toward the Lord or toward other persons. It carries with it the feeling "I have failed God, therefore I am not worthy of His favor. Since I’ve done bad things, I must suffer. When I have improved myself, and when I have suffered enough, maybe I can receive what He offers." With many, this remains a very distant hope.
Unless we receive the propitiation that can be ours in Christ Jesus, we can never stand in that end-time company to which Dan 11 :32b makes reference. . . but the people that do know their God (intimately and without the wall that guilt throws up) shall be strong, and do exploits. With this article, we want to see this hope brought near.
Read those verses again! Memorize them.
GUILT MAY FEEL LIKE CONVICTION brought on by the Holy Spirit. There is a difference, however. Along with the Holy Spirit’s conviction comes a hope of deliverance. It leads to propitiation. Guilt, on the other hand, carries no hope. It weighs a person down almost to destruction.
Guilt is one of the most common ills of mankind. Often it comes after sin. Frequently it follows a bad circumstance over which a person has no control. Whatever its root, its work is deadly. And, whatever its root, the grace of God is ready to heal the soul in which it has grown.
Following are some—just some—common guilt syndromes. Some hide them and go on as though they do not exist. We can’t cover them all here, but the Holy Spirit can reach anyone bound in guilt and bring His healing.
· Guilt over someone’s death. Some, who have given every possible aid to a dying loved one, feel overwhelmed with guilt thinking they could have done something more. They recall the times they were slow to respond, the harsh words they spoke, their frustration, their anger and resentment and bitterness. These memories gnaw at a soul like a rat gnaws at a nut he has carried into his dark hole.
· Guilt in a parent with a weak or deformed child. This is common in parents who have given birth to a child with genetic weakness, or who see their child suffer because of an accident.
· Guilt over a failed marriage. Often this kind of failure fastens pain on the children, as well as the adults, involved. It can go on for generations. While those involved try to pick up their lives and find normalcy, the underlying guilt remains, often conjoined with anger and resentment. Then thoughts of revenge creep in, only to release in the guilty one deeper feelings of remorse.
· Guilt over not being able to provide enough for one’s dependents. This runs rampant in parents who feel their children are deprived, particularly of material goods. These parents compensate by permitting privileges more adult than is good for their children. This only increases the feelings of guilt in the parents.
· Guilt when one’s sickness causes inconvenience and trouble for others. This kind of guilt opens the door for self-pity, depression, and a martyr-like spirit, all of which put even more pressure on the caregiver.
· Guilt for having intentionally hurt someone, or unintentionally. When I was a college student, I paid my way by working in the dining hall. Sometimes I was cashier and took the money as each one paid. Just before my station someone added the amount for each tray. A handicapped girl, who had but one leg, worked there. She needed her job, but often did not add correctly. This went on for some time and I finally reported her to our supervisor, thinking the girl would receive a reprimand with instructions as to how she should do her job. Instead, she was fired. What guilt I felt! It remained with me for years, deep and gnawing. I’m a tender kind of person who doesn’t want to see someone suffer because of something I’ve done. The propitiation we have in Christ Jesus will touch even things like this. But, if left unresolved, the enemy can take advantage.
· Guilt over being the survivor in an accident that took lives. This is one of the more unreasonable forms of guilt, but it is very strong. Many ask, "Why did I come through unhurt when others suffered and died?"
· Guilt imposed by a manipulator. How frequently a sentence, a look, or one’s tone of voice can leave a person feeling guilty. Children manipulate parents, wives manipulate husbands, neighbors manipulate neighbors, and so on—all by raising their level of guiltiness.
· There is another to add, the very sad syndrome of guilt carried by children who have been sexually molested. We have found this through years of counseling. A molested child often carries the guilt that he or she did something to attract the molester. Until resolved, this brings its effect over into adult intimate relationships.
· The list could go on to include guilt over every sin that could be committed. This list might never end were it not for the grace of God and the propitiation He offers.
GUILT ALWAYS CARRIES WITH IT the fear of being exposed or confronted. Take, for one instance, the partner who has been unfaithful in a marriage. This one will live with fear—if the conscience is not hardened—of the other finding out. On we could go from this point.
Some persons develop their own means of dealing with guilt. The most common is to repress it. This means pushing it down somewhere in the human spirit so it will not make its constant demands on the emotions and conscience. But, it remains to emit its poison and offer some devices that are, at best, only destructive. Consider what can be the result of repressed guilt. These all arise against the will of the person involved.
· Insomnia. A person beset by guilt often loses sleep to worry and fret, to rehearse some scene, or to devise a plan of escape from an uncomfortable situation. All this only saps the energy of an already weakened person.
· Morbid depression. This is a retreat into melancholic lethargy in an attempt to escape the horrendous problems of life. In this, the emotions plummet while anxiety rules. Since these two are hardly compatible, the response of the mind becomes more confused as each day progresses till there is hardly more than a stupor of a response to living.
· Low self-esteem. This usually accompanies guilt. It says, "If I have done something terrible, then I am terrible. I won’t be successful, and I cannot expect God to bless me." Because these center on their weakness and failure, they never reach the full potential of who or what they could be.
· Destruction in relationships. Here the idea develops, "I have failed in my other relationships. I might as well destroy this one and get it over with." Guilt generally carries with it the inability to trust other persons, for often someone else also holds responsibility for the failure.
· Compulsive behavior. How frequent this is! A person who holds guilt often will feel, "I must redeem my soul from its badness. To do this I will give, and give, and give to my own hurt." Parents who have failed, so they think, in raising their children often continue doing things for their children to their hurt. They do this to assuage their own guilt for having raised their children so poorly.
THE SOUL IN ITS FIGHT TO SURVIVE can come up with some of its own answers like the following. Like the above, none of these are productive. In fact, they are all destructive.
· Hardening of the conscience. If one’s inner feelings become dull enough to subdue a sense of being at fault, then guilt can be forgotten. This leaves a potential criminal without conscience capable of doing any evil.
· Anger. In this the guilty one takes the feelings of remorse out on others, always trying to find someone else on whom to place the blame that eats away at his own soul.
· Illness. Sometimes a person will feel such remorse over a wrong done that he inflicts suffering upon himself in a vain effort to atone and, hence, find some relief from the gnawing guilt. Or sometimes guilty persons want some reason not to function, as an explanation or excuse for their wrong behavior.
· Alcohol and drug abuse. The guilt of some becomes so painful that a way of escape must be found. A temporary mask may be found in alcohol and drugs, but their use only compounds the pain.
· Suicide. Taking one’s life is no answer, but it is often the result since it is the only answer the sickened soul can come up with. Those who struggle with guilt often spend long hours contemplating how they can die. Even when this is not followed through, it is dangerous. Sad to say, some eventually succeed.
We come back now to the most prevalent device of the soul:
· Repression. This is a common way of dealing with guilt. It is simply to shove it down till it is covered over by other affairs of life. But, it remains locked in the human spirit where it continues its work without the mind considering what is going on. From a deeper level it rules the person’s spirit, which in turn influences the mind, the emotions, the will, and the conscience.
WE DO NOT HAVE to live with guilt. We can find relief from its demands, if we treat it like the fault that it is, a sickness that can be healed. When we are ready to do this, we can call in that powerful principle of spiritual life laid down in Jas 5:16. We have made reference to it over and over, but let us see it again. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Confess is from exomologéomai. (As we say often, don’t worry about pronouncing it.) We put it here so you can see the ex-used as a prefix. It adds strength to the ordinary word "confess." It makes it mean "confess out in the open." Bring your faults out in the open so others can see what you really are; withhold nothing. They already know more than you suspect anyway. Most people will be very compassionate. It may even help them confess their faults.
Picture yourself, if you will, in a meeting.
Small prayer meetings are best. They are times when we can become open and honest about ourselves in the presence of others who care and who will help us pray.
You can say, "I’m struggling, and I need help. Will some of you pray with me?"
This can be the beginning of your freedom. We’ve been in too many prayer meetings and have seen too much compassion in cases like this to believe that anything other than good could come from this kind of openness.
It would be good if you could see the last part of Jas 5:16 in the Greek. It is so powerful hardly any translation could do it justice. The closest we might come in one sweep is this: "Much strong supplication from a righteous person becomes a force of energy." That is what is needed to break the power of guilt, the release of an energetic force from God’s presence.
Prayer meetings, even with two people, can result in the release of this kind of power. Sometimes the guilt is of such a sensitive nature that it must be handled in a very small company. Cases like this are frequent. There was an instance when Glenda observed a woman in a meeting who looked hopelessly sad. She took her aside privately and found she recently had undergone an abortion. She had two children. When she became pregnant with the third, her husband demanded that she give it up because they could not afford another. She went to her minister and he advised her this was a right thing to do.
Afterwards, guilt set in. Her conscience was tender—too tender to have allowed what she did. The device her soul set up was for her to become remorseful and dysfunctional. Thus, someone brought her to that meeting.
Glenda told her it was too late to help the baby, but that she could confess it as the sin of murder that it was. When she did this, Glenda laid hands on her and released her from the devastating guilt. The understanding we had received from John 20:23, which we set out in Putting Off the Old Man, surely helped in this. Her real hope lay in receiving the mercy that was available to her from the Lord. She found an expression of it in those who ministered to her. Jas 5:16 worked. Everyone present beheld the miracle of her release. The change in her life influenced her whole family to come to the Lord.
FREQUENTLY REAL FREEDOM COMES only when we make confession to the one we have wronged, or that we feel we have wronged. They might help us walk our way out of our guilt. This is sometimes a big step for us, but it offers a way of healing that may come in no other way.
If we can talk with open honesty and brokenness to the one, or ones, toward whom we feel our guilt, we will most probably find them ready to forgive us and release us. This can result in the renewal of relationship, or at least in the removal of dread toward seeing the other person.
We just simply say, "I have been wrong. I ask you to forgive me."
When we do this, we open the way for that other person to find a new relationship with the Lord also. Remember, when we have wronged another person, that one probably feels resentment and anger—or bewilderment—toward us. If we can help them forgive us, we bring them to the wonderful possibility regarding what Jesus taught. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you—Matt 6:14. If we do not help another person forgive us, we may actually shut them off from their forgiveness from God.
When we ask if amends can be made, we may find a way to restore a joyful relation. It will require humility and honesty, but these are two powerful qualities of God’s Kingdom. We need never fear taking them on.
If the person to whom we go is not willing for amends to be made, at least we have presented ourselves to the possibility of it. We can be clear and free before the Lord. And, our prayer life will receive new strength.
LET US PRESENT ANOTHER POSSIBILITY for freedom. This is one many would not consider, but one that offers the only solution in some severe cases. Guilt can open the way for seducing spirits to come in, and it will never leave until the spirits are gone. If we are haunted by guilt, obsessed with the continual feeling of being wrong, or are overcome by some of the devices guilt builds, then we probably need to be delivered from a spirit of guilt.
We need not be afraid of this. The Lord Jesus has dealt very effectively with demon spirits. He has stripped them of their power. The authority of His Name coupled with the power of the Holy Spirit will drive out any of them.
If you do no know how to deal with the spirit yourself, find some believers who know their authority in Christ and ask them to pray with you.
As you wait before the Lord, command the spirit of guilt to depart, in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Call the spirit by name. Expect it to go.
Now, here is a little secret we have found. We are learning to keep these spirits away by maintaining our relationship with the Lord. If even a tinge of the old guilt tries to creep back in, we can instantly say, "Wait a minute, demon! The Lord Jesus Christ has set me free from your power. You depart from me this instant. You have no more authority in me. I have confessed to God the sin in which you became my accuser. I am cleansed and set free through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus."
LET US ADD this important note. Close to feeling like guilt is the conviction of the Holy Spirit. In many, guilt is real and there is a reason for it. The Holy Spirit wants us to repent when we are wrong. So, whether it is the condemnation of an unclean spirit or the conviction of the Holy Spirit, we can let it lead us to repentance before God. The way David prayed in Ps 51 is a good example for us in this. After we have repented, we can effectively deal with the spirit of guilt.
NOW, LET US LOOK AGAIN at the first Propitiation verse, Rom 3:25. We will come back to I John 2:2 and I John 4:10 later. They all present the real hope that is ours in Christ Jesus. Only through Him can the demand that guilt makes of us find its full satisfaction.
In Rom 3:25 the word propitiation is from the Greek hilastérion. It means mercy seat; of which we cannot now speak particularly (Heb 9:5). Both propitiation and mercy seat are from the same word in the Greek New Testament. The "mercy seat" was that covering over the Arc of the Covenant in that ancient Tabernacle of Moses. It was there the sacrificial blood was sprinkled in the presence of God on the Day of Atonement. (See Heb 9:1-5.) The blood of the Lord Jesus becomes our propitiatory offering that conciliates God and makes our atonement with Him possible.
When we repent of our sin and believe this offering has been made, we can make the following statement in line with Rom 3:25. "God hath set Christ Jesus forth to be a propitiatory sacrifice for me. This becomes mine through faith in His blood. When I believe what He has accomplished for me in His death, and I yield to its power, I find my propitiation. My pardon is granted. My restitution is made. My atonement is complete. My guilt takes its flight and I am free. His righteousness becomes the declaration of my life. God Himself declares this to be so for the remission of my sins that are past."
"This propitiation becomes mine through the forbearance of God. This means He has been patient and long-suffering with me to bring me to this moment. Now I am free!"
Remission is another beautiful word. It means "forgiveness"—straight
and simple, with no embellishment necessary on our part to receive it
except that we repent and believe.
—Of course, this must be continued.
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