Guilt has one purpose.
DECEMBER 29, 2022
Guilt has one purpose. And I’ll tell you what it is, on Key Life.
That was Steve Brown and this is Key Life. We’re dedicated to the teaching that the only people who get any better are those who know that if they don’t get any better, God will still love them anyway. Steve is an author, seminary professor, and our teacher on Key Life.
Thank you Matthew. We’re looking at the 19th chapter of Acts. It’s a part of our very long study in the book of Acts. And we’re looking at a place where bad doctrine caused bad problems. The apostle Paul goes into the city, meets twelve Christians, and they don’t even know who the Holy Spirit is, but they know that Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Paul was shocked, and then he began to teach them some of the verities of the Christian faith in general and the doctrine of the Holy Spirit in particular. They had been baptized into repentance, but they had not been baptized in the name of Jesus. So, Paul baptized them, fixing the truth problem that they were dealing with. So, we’re talking about doctrine, and I mentioned it to you yesterday and we’re going to talk about it some today. Bad doctrine not only leads to a knowledge problem, but – my people are dying from lack of knowledge, the Scripture says. But secondly, bad doctrine leads to a grace problem in Acts 19:3 through 4.
Paul says, “Were you baptized?” And they say, “We were baptized in the baptism of John.”
Now, what was that? That was repentance. John said, repent, be baptized. But Paul knew that Jesus was the second part of that. And if you only have the first part, you are in trouble. You know, if you look at some Christians, and I’m one of them sometimes, we could be quite self righteous. You know what happens when we’re self righteous? We haven’t stood before Jesus and heard the second part of the gospel. I quoted Jack Miller’s comment to you yesterday that the Christian faith was two sentences.
First cheer up, you’re a lot worse than you think you are. And secondly, cheer up. God’s grace is a lot bigger than you think it is.
There are a lot of Christians who only get that first sentence and they never see the second sentence. I’ve often said, and I believe that a lot of very condemning, mean, angry, self righteous Christians are that way because they left before they got loved. I mean, they got the truth, they got saved, but they left before they were loved sufficiently to love others.
You can’t love until you’ve been loved. And then you can only love to the degree to which you have been loved.
And in this particular incident, Paul knew that they knew about repentance. And vaguely understood forgiveness and he gave them the truth, and they were baptized into that truth, that would be in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. We need to get repentance. Now, what’s repentance? Repentance is from a Greek word, and I’ve told you this before, metanoia and it means not change, it means a change of mind, it means agreeing with God, it means understanding where you’ve gone, what you’ve done, and how offensive that is to God. It is understanding it, and it’s an attitudinal deal, and when you tell God, that you agree with him, that’s called repentance. Now, you’re not good enough to change yourself, so the people that say repent is changing, they don’t understand how deep and profound the fall is and how sinful we are. And that first statement in Jack Miller’s comment about the Christian faith, that we’re a lot worse than we think we are, that’s important that you see it, but once you see it and agree with God, repentance has done its work. Let me tell you something, guilt only has one purpose for the Christian, and it’s not to make you miserable, it is not to make you better, it is not to make you nicer, it is not to make you more pure. Guilt has one purpose and guilt is what sends you at the behest of the conviction of the Holy Spirit to Jesus. And that’s where the second statement begins to take place.
Cheer up, God’s grace is a lot bigger than you think it is.
And so, when doctrine, and in this particular case in the 19th chapter of Acts, when doctrine is inadequate or untrue or not sufficient, you have a grace problem. And we all have a grace problem. Martin Luther said.
We have to preach the gospel that is grace to each other, lest we become discouraged.
And we do become discouraged, don’t we? Guilt has one purpose. If you are sitting around and thinking about what you did ten years ago and you’re a Christian, stop it. If you are so guilty that you can hardly breathe and you think, I can’t serve Christ cause I’m not good enough, stop it. If you think about the things you have thought and the things you have done, the secrets you’ve never told anybody but God, and it has debilitated you, stop it. Because the guilt and the guilt comes from the measurement we have of the law of God in Scripture. And once you get that you violated it. And for those of you who are theologically oriented, I understand the third use of the law. It does, in a sense, make us better kind of, but that’s not the point. The purpose of the law is to let you know who you are. And then the Holy Spirit says when we say, all right, what do I do now? The Holy Spirit says, run to Jesus dummy. Run to Jesus. And when you do, you find that you are forgiven, that your sin is separated as the north from the south, that you are as white as snow. I, one of the things we talk about a lot on Key Life, and if you’ve been a part of this very long, you know that. It’s this statement that God is not angry at you. And I get questions, I was on a, I have a new book that just came out recently and I’m doing interviews at a number of places about the new book. And callers call in and bring up issues. And an issue that comes up repeatedly is this, you say that God’s not angry at me and I think he is. Where do you get that in the Bible? When I read the Bible, God is not somebody you mess with. He’s angry. Yeah, his wrath is a scary thing. But if you understand Biblical doctrine, if you understand the whole council of God, if you understand what this thing is all about and what it’s been all about from the very beginning, you know that forgiveness is at the very center of what it’s all about. Repentance, of course, repentance in the way I just described to you, but if you don’t go further than that, you don’t get the grace and a doctrine problem. When you don’t know whole truth will make you into a self-righteous jerk, and you’ll look at other people and their sins and you will say, I’m going to hold my white robe up so it doesn’t get besodded as I walk over all of this filth. And Jesus will say, drop your robe, come to me, bring your repentance and your guilt, and I’ll fix it. And I’ll fix it right now. So, if you feel guilty, stop it. You’ve truncated the theology of the entire Bible. It’s all about grace. It’s all about his love. It’s all about forgiveness. I don’t care where you’ve gone. I don’t care what you’ve done or who you’ve hurt. I don’t care what you’ve been drinking or smoking, I don’t care. That’s not the point. The point is the forgiveness. And if you know Biblical theology, Biblical doctrine, if you read the Bible correctly and you see what God was doing from the moment of Creation to the return of Christ in the future, it’s one thing. It is to tell you that he loves you, and he forgives you, and you’re free. If you’re a Christian it’s not about salvation. It’s about truth, and I told you the truth. You think about that. Amen.
Thank you Steve. That wraps up another great week of teaching from Acts. We’ll continue from here next year, which is to say next week. Remember, join us tomorrow for Friday Q&A. That’s when Steve and Pete will tackle this question. Does God care about the length of someone’s hair? Tune in for that answer. So, no kidding, this is it, last chance, your final opportunity to order this year’s Key Life print magazine. Any copies left next week? I don’t know. I’m selling them on EBay. In all seriousness, this is a dynamite issue. It’s packed with great articles from Chad West, the aforementioned Pete Alwinson, Kendra Fletcher, and yeah, of course, Steve. To claim your free copy of Key Life Magazine, just call us at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You can also e-mail [email protected] to ask for the magazine. And if you’d like to send a request by mail, just go to key life.org/contact to find our mailing addresses for the U.S. and for Canada. Just ask for your free copy of Key Life Magazine. And finally, would you partner in the work of Key Life through your giving? Giving is easy. You can charge a gift on your credit card or include a gift in your envelope. Or just pick up your phone and text Key Life to 28950 that’s Key Life, one word, two words. It doesn’t matter. Just text that to 28950 and then follow the instructions. Key Life is a member of ECFA in the States and CCCC in Canada. And as always, we are a listener supported production of Key Life Network.